Wasps, Hornets and Bees

One of the best things about Spring and Summer many look forward to is the buzz of bees. The other thing that happens, however is one not so pleasant - the buzz of hornets and wasps. Wasps have hairless skinny bodies with narrow waists. Hornets have bulkier bodies and shorter waists, almost looking as if there are only two separate parts rather than three. Bees have wide, hairy bodies, stout legs, and spend most of their time flying from flower to flower to collect pollen. Whether bee, wasp, or hornet, the basic life cycle is the same—egg, larva, pre-pupa, pupa, adult. Fertilized eggs produce female bees, while unfertilized ones produce males. Eggs are placed in individual nest cells and provisioned with a food source for the newly hatched larvae to eat—a loaf made of pollen and nectar for bees or a paralyzed insect for wasps. Some eggs hatch in a few days, while others wait until the next season to emerge. The larvae eat, grow, and molt their skin up to 5 times. An egg laid in the spring can take all summer to reach the pre-pupal stage, then styagante until Spring. The pupa looks like an adult, but is pale in color with no wings. Once it becomes an adult, it will chews its way out of the nest and immediately begin to work.

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Bees Identification


For the most part, bees are not aggressive and only sting in self defense. Most species of bees collect pollen to make honey and are beneficial to man. For the most part they are docile and can easily be managed with the right knowledge. Apart from the occasional story we hear about Africanized Honey Bee attacks, most honey bees here in Washington State are handled by beekeepers when there is a call in for them. Bees eat pollen and nectar, making them important pollinators. In fact, the stingerless males do much of the foraging. With the exception of honey bees and bumblebees, most bees are solitary and live in underground nests or artificial bee huts created by man. Swarm season generally occurs between spring and early summer. The swarm may move anywhere from 1/4 to 1 mile each move. If given a choice, bees will relocate an average of about half a mile from the parent colony. They prefer a sight off the ground 8-15 feet, in cavities such as eaves, attics, sheds, and tree knots. Swarms generally are harmless and should be left alone. Contact your local beekeepers association for swarms.


In the U.S. there are no native hornets. The primary hornet seen is the European hornet. It looks like a large yellowjacket—about ¾ to 1½ inches long and nests in the ground or in hollow trees. Their bodies are mostly hairless, have bulky abdomens, and can sting multiple times. All hornets are aggressive and should be addressed as soon as they are located so they do not build the famous large nests we see in the press. Hornet nests are typically built in hollow trees, but can be found in barns, sheds, attics and wall voids in buildings. Frequently, the nests are built in the openings of protected cavities. Nests built in wall voids may emit an odor. Often times home owners will hear buzzing or chewing sounds in the walls. Mature nests usually have 300-500 workers, but they can number up to 1,000 or more if the nest has not been disturbed over the years.

Bald Faced Hornet

The bald-faced hornet is actually not a hornet at all but a large bodied paper wasp. It is a relative of the yellowjacket, and gets its name from its black color and mostly white face. Known for their aggression, Bald Faced Hornet nests are best left to the professionals, as they have been known to attack even if you walk within a few feet of the nest by accident. These insects may swarm you in a concentrated attack, and will chase you. Because their stingers are smooth, each bald-faced hornet will be able to sting you multiple times without causing harm to itself, unlike honey bees.

Yellow Jackets

The yellowjacket is an aggressive social paper wasp that will nest above or below ground. Many of the famous pictures you see on the internet of wasp nests covering cars, taking over entire sheds, and other buildings are yellow jacket nests. Yellowjackets have lance-like stingers with small barbs, and typically sting repeatedly, though occasionally a stinger becomes lodged and pulls free of the wasp's body, killing it as it does honey bees. All species have yellow or white on their faces. Yellowjackets are meat eating hunters living in colonies containing workers, queens, and drones. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens are found in protected places such as in hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities, and in man-made structures. Queens emerge during the warm days of late spring or early summer, select a nest site, and build a small paper nest in which they lay eggs.


Wasps play a vital ecological role in controlling pests. Social wasps are predators, collecting pest insects and arachnids which are then stung, paralyzed, and put into egg chambers for newly hatched larvae to eat alive. In the fall, all the social wasps die off except for the fertilized queens. They overwinter in protected spots such as hollow logs, under loose tree bark, or in a soil cavity, and emerge in the spring to start a new colony. Solitary wasps depend on their larvae to mature in spring and start a new generation. Wasp nests can be above or below ground. Be aware if you are mowing in areas you have not touched all year there is a risk of wasp nest activity, Since wasps prey on some bad bugs, they should be considered beneficial to gardeners. Adults feed on nectar, doing some accidental pollinating at the same time, so they are minor pollinators. However, they are drawn to meat and sweets, scavenging whatever they find, so they can be a nuisance for outdoor dining and will congregate around trash cans. If you encounter them, don’t swat at them or act in an aggressive manner or you risk being stung. They will also sting to protect their hive. Wasps are capable of stinging multiple times.

Asian Hornet

A new invasive species that has been found in North West Washington is the Giant Asian Hornet. The Asian giant hornet (AGH) is a social wasp species. Its native range extends from northern India to East Asia. This pest was first reported in the Vancouver Island area of Canada in August 2019 and has since been detected in the far northwest corner of Washington State. It is unknown how they were introduced, however the USDA Is working hard to find and eradicate this species. They are aggressive, and the hornet's potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened to hot metal driving into their skin. It is best if you suspect you have seen or have an Asian Hornet to immediately call an exterminator. There is NO mistaking this insect as they are 13⁄4 to 2 inches on average, with a wing span of 3 inches, and a stinger 1⁄4 in long. So far only Whatcom county has encountered this amazing insect.

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Bees Control Methods

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Wasp and hornet nest elimination can be handled in several ways depending on species and location. Normally a chemical that affects their hormones and sterilizes the pupae, pre paepae and eggs is used to saturate the nest. Please avoid area until the following morning after treatment. If there is still activity please call to schedule an additional service.

Modern Pest Control's Dedication to Customer Satisfaction

While there is no such thing as a guarantee against Mother Nature, we as Modern Pest Control will guarantee we will do everything humanly possible to ensure your family is safe from wasps and hornets. We work with local beekeepers through the county websites for honeybees, and take into serious consideration the ecological impact of our products. Often times, unless asked, we will leave the nest where it is located to naturally decompose into the compost and environment.

Please avoid the area for at least a day as there will be unpleasant wasps or hornets around the area. Nesting site is under warranty to the end of the calendar year.