Grrrr… where do we start when talking about wasps. As beekeepers, we hate wasps. They attack and rob beehives of their honey and their bees. To us, a dead wasp is a good wasp.
New Zealand has thousands of species of wasp, most of them are tiny native species that cannot sting. The German wasp and common wasp are introduced species that have invaded the beech forests. In some beech forests, the weight of all the wasps combines is greater than that of all the birds combines.
Unlike bees, wasps are not known for their pollination but are more known for their aggressive behaviour.
Wasps cause damage to insects, birds, and mammals. A good article on the effects of wasps in New Zealand can be found here.
Bees vs. Wasps
Most bees have hairy bodies. The hairs are branched or feathery. Bees, by design, are good pollinators. Bees are vegetarian and mostly feed pollen to their larvae.
Wasps have few or no hairs. The adults feed their larvae on insects, spiders, and other invertebrates and mainly eat sugary food such as nectar.
The main difference between wasps and bees is in the shape of their bodies. A wasp’s body narrows at the middle where it attaches to the thorax or rear of the body. A bee does not have this narrowing in the middle of the body. In addition, wasps can sting several times and not die, but the honeybee can only sting once, as its stinger is dislodged from the body.
The most common wasps found in New Zealand are paper wasps (generally harmless) and German wasps (with a yellow and black striped body). If you have a wasp infestation the best thing to do is to call a professional pest controller.