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Bees and Wasps
Though related, bees and wasps differ in important ways. Most wasps have a narrow “waistline” where the front portion of the abdomen tapers to become a small tube as it attaches to the middle body section, the thorax. Bees do not have this narrowing of the abdomen. Another difference is that bees feed nectar and pollen to their young (larvae), while wasps feed their larvae insects and spiders. Yellow jackets and hornets also scavenge food including fruit, sweets, meats and carrion. One thing bees and wasps have in common is that some species are solitary and others are social. A solitary bee or wasp lives alone, making its own nest and raising its own larvae. Individuals of social species live together in colonies consisting of many “workers” and one or more “queens.” The workers specialize in different tasks, and cooperate to raise the queen’s offspring. These species should be considered a greater threat to humans than solitary species. This is because social species, such as honey bees and yellow jackets, will defend an entire colony, and have more individuals available to do so. Solitary species, such as mud dauber wasps, defend their nest alone.
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