Bees, Wasps & Hornets
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently considered as a cladeAnthophila. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven to nine recognized families, though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.
Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Most pollen is used as food for larvae.
Bees have a long proboscis (a complex “tongue”) that enables them to obtain the nectar from flowers. They have antennae almost universally made up of 13 segments in males and 12 in females, as is typical for the superfamily. Bees all have two pairs of wings, the hind pair being the smaller of the two; in a very few species, one sex or caste has relatively short wings that make flight difficult or impossible, but none are wingless.
Tiny bee stingless bee species exist whose workers are less than 2 mm (0.079 in) long. The largest bee in the world is Megachilepluto, a leafcutter bee whose females can attain a length of 39 mm (1.5″). Members of the family Halictidae, or sweat bees, are the most common type of bee in the Northern Hemisphere, though they are small and often mistaken for wasps or flies.
The best-known bee species is the European honey bee, which, as its name suggests, produces honey, as do a few other types of bee. Human management of this species is known as beekeeping or apiculture.
Bees are the favorite meal of Meropsapiaster, the bee-eater bird. Other common predators are kingbirds, mockingbirds, beewolves, and dragonflies.
A wasp is any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. Almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it or parasitizes it, making wasps critically important in natural control of their numbers, or natural biocontrol. Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in agricultural pest control as they prey mostly on pest insects and have little impact on crops.
Dolichovespulamaculata is a North Americanwasp commonly called the bald-faced hornet, white-faced hornet, white-tailed hornet, blackjacket or bull wasp. Its well-known features include its hanging paper nests and the females’ habit of defending them with repeated stings.
The bald-faced hornet actually belongs to a genus of yellowjackets in North America, but unlike many congeners it lacks yellow coloring. Instead, it is called a hornet in the American sense of a wasp that builds paper nests. It is large compared to other yellowjackets, with adults averaging 2–3 cm long. It is sometimes confused with the similar-sized European hornet, the only true hornet in America, but is distinguished by its mostly white “baldfaced” head and three white stripes on the end of its abdomen.
It is best known for its large, football-shaped papernest, which it builds in the spring to rear young. The nest, one of the largest of wasp nests, can be up to 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter and 23 inches (60 cm) in length.[The population of a nest varies from 100 to 700 individuals, averaging around 400.
The bald-faced hornet is protective of the nest and will sting repeatedly if it is disturbed.This wasp is more aggressive than most yellowjackets of Dolichovespula and the genus Vespula, and the nest should be observed only from a distance