Identifying honeybees from wasps

I’ve started taking part in the FIT (flower-insect timed) count project which involves spending 10 minutes counting the number of pollinators that come to a 50x50cm patch of flowers. However it’s made me realize what a novice I am at identifying species! I’d appreciate it if anyone could give me any tips on identifying between honeybees and wasps? I think wasps are brighter and less fluffy but I’m not sure!

Use the species browser of the species dictionary here to look at images of these. There are lots!
Alternatively, the excellent has useful ID notes for most species, that will tell you what to look for. Then you can browse again here, and see if you can match up what you see with these hints.
Searching for a simple insect anatomy picture on the web might help, unless you’re fluent in entomology!


Thank you for the tips @Amadan

I’m surprised it got through WP:NOT (Wikipedia is not a field guide), but there this

I would have thought that the problem was not just distinguishing honeybees from wasps, but also honeybees from other bees, and honeybees from hoverflies (count the wings), and so on.

1 Like

I actually find identifying bumblebees and hoverflies easy. It’s honeybees I struggle with because I’m unfamiliar with them, they’re fairly slender with stripes like a wasp.

Thank you for the link @lavateraguy :green_heart:

These were more or less the only two insect species on the hogweed, initially they all looked the same but difference appeared once you started looking a bit closer.

1 Like

I rarely venture into entomology, but iSpot posts are so encouraging; so, if ISpy that the bee has pollen sacs - does that get me an insect badge, Miked?

I thought you already had lots of badges! Shame we lost the social badges we used to have but there are others on this forum system which people seem to gain without ever noticing. When I click on your icon in the forum it shows 12 badges but it is not clear which of them you actualy have (is it all of them) which is not all that helpful.

Well, 10 years on iSpot and this is the first time I have clicked on my own, (or anyone else’s) icon. I’ve looked at many people’s profiles when trying to make helpful suggestions, of course.


As you say, I have a dozen badges earned and/or awarded. Some quite interesting or unexpected as in the list of “most liked”. And have I really read 4.6k posts?

Asking you for a badge for pollen sacks was just a joke, though I see that I have icons for inverts, which will be mainly marine, though with the help of others (to whom thanks) I’ve got a few terrestrial insects in my list of observations.


I wonder what other parts of iSpot I have not visited…. Unknown unknowns (Rumsfield 2002).