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Bee or Wasp - What’s the Difference?


Not all bees look the same. Depending on their habitat, they may be darker, lighter or have paler or brighter colors. Wasps, bumblebees and hornets look very different depending on the species. In this article, we’re concentrating on the kinds that are most commonly found where we are. So those that we might find in our homes, backyards, balconies, gardens, cafés, restaurants and beer gardens. These are:

  • Bee: Western honey bee
  • Wasp: German wasp, common wasp
  • Bumblebee: Garden bumblebee, early bumblebee
  • Hornet: Vespa crabro

What Color Are Bees?

Bees and bumblebees are pale yellow, yellow, amber, brown and black. They tend to be a little darker than wasps and hornets. The transition between the colors is soft.

Honey Bee

Honey Bee - Photo: Mirek Kijewski/Shutterstock


What Color Are Wasps?

Wasps and hornets have bright, bold, shiny colors that catch the eye. The colors are clear, and have sharp transitions. This is mostly due to the fact that they don’t have any hair to “blur” this transition. The hornet’s special coloring is unmistakable: they are dark to black at the head and bottom with red-brown markings at the head and top part of the body, while the abdomen is black-yellow.


Wasp - Photo: Evgeniy Ayupov/Shutterstock


  • Bee: Yellow, amber, brown / dark brown
  • Bumblebee: Yellow-orange, brown/black
  • Wasp: Yellow, black
  • Hornet: Orange-red brown, yellow, black

Color Intensity:

  • Bee: Matte; yellow, amber, brown
  • Bumblebee: Deep, rich; yellow, orange, brown, black
  • Wasp: Bright, light, bold
  • Hornet: Bright, light, bold


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