A common misconception among many people is that yellow jackets are a type of bee. They are in fact wasps. Those who consider them to be bees might also wonder then whether they make honey. The answer is no – yellow jackets do not make honey. This does not mean that wasps are not capable of making honey. In fact, some species of wasp do make honey for their own consumption.
What Purpose do Yellow Jackets Serve?
Most people consider yellow jackets pests, but they are actually a very important part of the ecosystem. Like bees, they are pollinators, but they also feed on other pests that might be damaging your garden plants such as caterpillars, beetles, and grubs.
What Are the Differences Between Yellow Jackets and Honeybees?
It is easy to see how some people mistake yellow jackets for honeybees at first glance as they are a similar size and color. However, on closer inspection, it is easy to see how these two insects differ. Yellow jackets have distinctly less hair than bees and their bodies tend to be thinner. Their wings are also thinner than the honeybee’s and yellow jackets are slightly smaller (although this may be difficult to determine with the naked eye).
Honeybees will feed primarily on nectar from plants, while yellow jackets will eat nectar and anything else that takes their fancy, including meat and sugary items (which they are particularly fond of). This is why yellow jackets are often found hanging around humans having picnics. They are waiting for an opportunity to steal some food!
Another major difference between honeybees and yellow jackets is in their ability to sting. Honeybees have barbed stingers that remain in their prey after they have stung. When the bee tries to flee, the stinger rips off part of its abdomen resulting in fatal injury. Yellow jackets, on the other hand, do not have barbed stingers and can sting multiple times. Understandably, the honeybee will only sting as a last resort and will typically only do so when protecting its home or when it feels directly threatened.
In terms of making honey, the honeybee’s main purpose is to work for the good of the colony, and a part of this is the production of honey. These social insects live together in hives and each bee has a role within the hive. There are three different casts of honeybees: the queen bee, the drones, and the worker bees. The queen’s job is to lay eggs, while the male drones are required to mate with the queen. The worker bees are the ones that look after the queen, nurse the larvae, make honeycomb, collect nectar, protect the hive, and make the honey.
Do Yellow Jackets Steal Honey?
Yellow jackets are also social insects, but they do not make honey. They do, however, eat it and when other resources are low, they may locate a beehive and attack it, killing the bees within and robbing the honey.
Healthy beehives are rarely at risk of an attack from yellow jackets, but beekeepers can take steps to protect their colonies. One of the best ways to prevent yellow jackets from getting into a beehive is to use fewer entrances. If your colony is weak then having fewer entrances to guard will help to minimize a full-scale attack. Some beekeepers will also use traps around their hives that contain bait. Once in the traps, the wasps will either die of exhaustion or can be humanely killed by the beekeeper.
Yellow jackets and honeybees are similar in size and color but there are distinct differences between the insects, particularly in their behavior. Unlike honeybees, yellow jackets do not make honey. While honeybees feed on nectar and pollen, yellow jackets also eat meat and will feed on various other insects as well as foraging for human food, particularly sugary items.