Honey Bee Hive vs. Wasp Nest: How to Identify the Difference

Are you dealing with honey bees?

We frequently receive calls from people saying they are having trouble with honeybee hives, when what they really have are yellow jacket or hornet nests. Below, we'll outline the difference between honey bees, wasps/hornets and bumble bees.

If you believe you're dealing with honey bees, and would like help having them extracted from your property, please click on this link and search the list for a registered beekeeper near you.


Examples of honey bee hives

Honey bees prefer to nest in a hollow tree, a hive box, or other man-made structures. They never nest in the ground.

Examples of honey bees inside structures

It is possible for honey bees to start a hive inside a siding of a home or other structure. In that case, extracting might be required. Please contact BEE REMOVAL SOURCE for a beekeeper that has registered to help.


If you see a ball of bees hanging from a tree branch or a bush or occupying a bench, or any other structure, this is a swarm. Please note that if they’re undisturbed, they are not aggressive!

Examples of honey bee swarms:


There are many kinds of wasps in the U.S., most familiar are yellow jackets and hornets.

Examples of wasp nests

Wasp nests are usually gray and paper-like. They could build their nest in the open (in trees, under picnic tables, etc.) or inside of a structure (garage, shed, attic, etc.). Some yellow jackets nest in the ground. The wasp nest only last for a season. If they are not bothering you, please consider leaving them alone as they are beneficial predators. If they are a danger to you or people around you, you may need to exterminate them. Connecticut Beekeepers Association members do not move or extract wasp nests or do exterminations.


Bumble bees nest underground (abandoned rodent holes, under sheds or in compost heaps). Some will nest above ground, like in thick grass, in bird boxes or in trees. The bumble bee nest only last for a few months. If they are not bothering you, please consider leaving them alone as they are extremely beneficial pollinators. Connecticut Beekeepers Association members do not move bumble bee nests.

Example of bumble bee nests:


Carpenter Bees

What are Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bees get their common name from their habit of boring into wood. Carpenter bees do not eat wood but cause damage to structures by drilling circular holes to create tunnels inside wood. Unlike other common bees, such as honeybees and bumblebees that live in colonies, carpenter bees are not social insects and build individual nests into trees outdoors or into the frames, eaves or sides of buildings.

About Connecticut Beekeepers Association

Connecticut Beekeepers Association promotes and supports all beekeepers and their local organizations. Our goal is to provide a common forum for the beekeepers of Connecticut to come together to share information and ideas.

  • Facebook
  • YouTube