Bees get all the nice PR in contrast with wasps, however how do their skills measure up? New Scientist pits these bugs towards one another in eight completely different classes, from cognitive expertise to stings, structure to crafty


12 July 2022

A bee and a wasp perch on flowers

Ian Grainger + JJ Gouin/Alamy

IT IS a good looking, sunny day. The scent of a barbecue is within the air and a bee is bumbling from flower to flower. All the things feels excellent. Then a wasp seems, stirring up fairly completely different emotions: worry, loathing, anger.

Our widespread dislike of wasps – and love of bees – goes again a good distance. “Hornets and wasps… are devoid of the extraordinary options which characterise bees,” wrote Aristotle greater than 2000 years in the past. Was he proper, or is there extra to wasps than most individuals assume?

It’s laborious to pretty examine completely different animals, however we take pleasure in a problem, so right here we pit the abilities of bees towards these of wasps in eight classes, from cognitive expertise to stings, structure to navigation. Which of those bugs ought to we be buzzing about?

European honey bee (Apis Mellifera) project

MYN/Clay Bolt/naturepl


“Most social bugs talk with a vocabulary of chemical substances and vibrations,” says Fred Dyer at Michigan State College. This consists of bees and wasps.

Honeybees use their abdomens to drum up vibrations to create a “get to work” sign. Wasps additionally interact in gastral drumming, banging their abdomens towards the partitions of the nest when there may be meals close by.

Bees and wasps emit hisses, buzzes and chirps, and wasp larvae make a popping sound to alert adults that they want meals. On the chemical entrance, particular person social bees and wasps launch substances to speak and provoke responses, similar to recruiting others to affix them in getting meals or inciting them to defend their residence. Queen honeybees produce a chemical combine known as the “queen sign” that physiologically alters the event of different bees, suppressing copy and preserving all of the …

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