Quite a few people often get confused between bees, wasps and hornets. Bees are fuzzy insects with yellow and black stripes. They may either be honey bees, bumble bees, or one of the many native bees we have here in Australia. In contrast to the fuzzy bodies of bees, wasps and hornets have hairless bodies with more defined segmentation. The main difference between the two is size and color with Wasps being smaller and having black and yellow rings while hornets are larger with black and white rings. Bees are beneficial to us humans since they pollinate plants while wasps and hornets eat other insects which can also be considered beneficial in a way.
However, all three of them (for the most part) can prove to be dangerous if they decide to set up shop near your house. Stings from all three insects are painful to varying degrees and, in some cases, may prove fatal. These insects generally will not sting a human unless the latter is in close proximity to their nest which makes them feel threatened. In the case of bees, they die after stinging someone whereas wasps and hornets soldier on and can use their stinger more than once. Ouch!
Unlike some other kinds of pests, these insects make sure their presence is felt. You will know you have an infestation if you see a few of these buzzing around near your house and, if it is safe to do so, you can confirm your suspicion by checking nearby trees, ceilings, walls, attics etc. for nests/hives. Another differentiating characteristic between bees and wasps is that the latter usually choose to build their nests closer to areas where people often gather. So if you hear the occasional buzzing while you sip your afternoon tea in your backyard, there’s a fair chance a group of wasps invited themselves to your tea party.
Note: European wasps are an increasing problem in Australia. This specie is considerably more dangerous than most others so it is absolutely essential that you reach out to AusWide if you see signs of European wasps near your house. For more information regarding European wasps and how to identify them, visit the following link: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/environmental-health/pesticide-use-and-pest-control/common-pests-in-victoria/european-wasps-pest-control
What you can do
We highly recommend that you absolutely do not try to get rid of these insects on your own and call us instead. Removing a nest is very dangerous and only experts such as those at AusWide know how to take the proper precautions when doing so.
As far as prevention is concerned, try to steer clear from any nests in the area so the insects don’t feel threatened by your presence. Try not to wear strong smelling cologne or perfume if you are going to be near a nest and definitely try to avoid eating outside as the insects will be attracted to your food. Bees also tend to be attracted to bright colored clothing so try not to wear bright colors.
If you are stung, make sure you remove the stinger ASAP. The longer the stinger is left in your skin, the worse the sting gets. This can be done by using a thin, hard tool such as a credit card or a butter knife to scrape at it. After ensuring that there isn’t a stinger in your skin, make sure you move as far away from the place where you were stung before tending to the area that was stung. This is to ensure that you don’t risk getting multiple stings as it doesn’t take too many of them to put someone’s life at risk. Once you have moved away, wash your skin with warm water and soap. To ease the pain and swelling, you can ice the welt, take painkillers and apply hydrocortisone cream if available. This will put you at ease for the time being but if the pain does not subside or if you were stung multiple times, it is best to seek medical attention. You should also seek medical attention if you experience dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath or any form of swelling other than the welt where you were stung.