Most solitary bees are small, except the carpenter bees which bore holes into dead timber. Carpenter bees are either completely black or black with a yellow band near the head. Their stings are very painful.
Honeybees are social bees living in colonies with a queen and workers. Most of the honeybees are small, not aggressive and seldom sting. The exception is the giant honeybee. These bees make enormous hanging combs on branches and buildings, are very dangerous and must never be disturbed.
Female solitary wasps build mud nests where they lay their eggs. They prey on small insects by paralysing them with stings. They then stock their prey in the nests so that the young larvae can feed on these paralysed, but live, victims. The sting of the solitary wasp can be quite severe; fortunately, they do not sting unless severely provoked. They never inflict multiple stings and therefore are not dangerous.
Social wasps will defend their nests aggressively and will attack if their nests are approached. Multiple stings from the larger wasps such as hornets are dangerous, and the victim needs to be hospitalised immediately. Some victims have died from hornet stings. In Singapore, the common hornets are the banded hornets, the lesser-banded hornets and the slender-banded hornets. These are black with an orange band on the body.
Other social wasps are smaller than the hornet and will also attack if their nests are disturbed. The night wasps nest in bushes and enter our homes because they are attracted to light. They will sting if they land on one’s skin. They usually sting just once.
Although bees and wasps do not sting unless disturbed, they pose a threat to humans when they build their nests near our habitats because sometimes they can be accidentally disturbed.
- It is advisable to destroy the nests or hives. Do not do this yourself. It is dangerous and must be handled by a professional pest control technician.
- To destroy the nest, a professional will spray it with an insecticide to kill the insects. Then the nest will be burnt and removed.
- It is best to spray the insecticide at night when all the bees or wasps have returned and are also inactive.
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