You might know that the stinger of a bee and a wasp differ because bees have barbed stingers and wasps do not.
When we look at bumble bees though, this is not the case. Of course there will be differences by species; however, the European Tree Bumble Bee (Bombus hypnorum) does not have a barbed stinger!
Having a stinger with no barbs means that these bumblebees could sting you multiple times, just like wasps and hornets.
Wasps rely on their venom to subdue prey, whereas bumblebees only use theirs in defence.
Don’t think for a second that bumblebees will not defend their nests robustly. It’s a crazy myth that bumblebees don’t sting. The good news is that the sting of a bumble bee is usually not that serious.
From experience, we know very well that the venom of a wasp sting causes far more pain and swelling than the venom of a bumble bee.
Wasps are also more capable hunters than bees, so you might be fortunate to escape from bumble bees, but wasps are a whole different ballgame.
Wasps will also try and attack anywhere on the body, but again, from experience, we know that bumble bees of all the species we have encountered go straight for the face.
Conclusion: Wasps are a far more dangerous proposition, but bees have the edge when it comes to homing in on your face!
Bristol has five species of commonly encountered paper wasps. Hornets are also paper wasps and are one of the paper wasps species commonly encountered in Bristol, especially on the periphery of Bristol.
Why Are They Called Paper Wasps?
We call them paper wasps because the wasps build nests out of chewed up wood products. The most popular way that wasps acquire or harvest wood pulp is from fences and garden furniture.
The top layer of timber will soften over time, becoming green and easy to dislodge.
Paper wasps use their powerful mandibles to cut away the timber and mix the wood fibres with saliva to form small balls. The wasps carry this material back to the nest and use it to make small additions to the nest.
The paper-like product produced is very resilient and can last decades, undisturbed in attics, lofts and floor voids, etc.
Why Are The Wasps Described As Social?
The wasps are classified as social because they have a queen who is in charge and workers (cast) that maintain, build, defend and nourish the nest.
Nests can contain thousands of insects, requiring impressive levels of organisation.
Where Do Wasps Nest?
Wasps nest in different places and this can be species specific. Lofts, floor voids, sheds, garages, playhouses, trees and shrubs are all locations where we commonly encounter wasps nests in Bristol.
How Many Wasps Are In A Nest?
Nest numbers can vary, but most nests will contain a thousand or more insects as they reach maturity. Some nests will contain over 10000 insects!
Each species of wasp will have its own specific nest numbers, sizes and other factors such as prevailing weather to contend with. Some nests are huge, while others are very small.
How Are Wasps Controlled?
The most common form of control is using an insecticidal dust called Ficam D. This is injected into the nest or nest entrance. The dust is a contact poison that quickly incapacitates and kills the wasps within five minutes of contact.
Other control products include sprays of various different formulas that quickly incapacitate the wasps. Sprays are used to achieve a sudden and devastating level of control.