One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve – Bee Quiz!

Hey there!

I–Hickory–posted a little tribute to bees in my Monday’s column, then Nutmeg grabbed the idea and ran with it. She’s encouraged me to quiz our human readers at bit more with a few bee and bee relative photos we’ve received from one of our readers–thank you, Nancy!

So, here’s my idea. I’ll just number the photos and you humans can make your guesses for it you think it’s a honeybee, a different type of bee, a wasp or a hornet. And, if you are really into the identification, you can use the Native Bees of North America on Bug Guide to try your hand at a more specific identification. We have most of these identified, but not all of them–fair warning that I can’t claim we’re experts on bees and bee relatives.

For some general identification reminders, scroll back or click back to Friday’s post.

Even if you only know one or a few of them, guess! Use the number above the photo with your answer.

And here we go!


mystery bee #1


2. mystery bee


3. Mystery bee


4. Mystery bee


5. Mystery bee


6. Mystery bee


7 Mystery bee


8 mystery bee


9. Mystery bee


10 Mystery bee

I’ll check back later for your answers!


Hi folks! We had one brave human post answers to our quiz–thanks, Kalamain from the UK! If you checked the comments, Kalamain got some correct and some wrong, and two we now aren’t sure of! Told you, we are not experts. I will note those two, and please if anyone knows the correct identification, on those or any, please speak up! We are not at all bashful about correcting our mistakes.

#1 Yellow Bumble Bee

#2 Wasp on Lateflowering Thoroughwort (see the pinched ‘waist’–that usually indicates a wasp, though we squirrels just sort of gleaned that from somewhere and none of us can recall where.)

#3 Honeybee on aster (This is one we now question!)

#4 Diadasia, we believe, from looking at Bug Guide

#5 European Hornet (That biting mouth for eating the insects can seen!)

#6 Honeybee in rose

#7 Unknown native bee in a Morning Glory (Well, we agree it’s a bee, but we didn’t think it was the same species as #3 until Kalamain pointed that out…so it might be!)

#8 Paper wasp on a milkweed leaf

#9 Common Eastern Bumble Bee in a Thistle (Thought this might be a carpenter bee, but we, uh, didn’t know how to tell when the photo was didn’t get a look or a photo of the back. It looks a bit fuzzier than photos we’ve seen of carpenter bees, so we picked bumble bee.)

#10 Common Eastern Bumble Bee on a daisy (We believe! ID photos seem to have variable abdomens–from all black to striped, so we’re a bit confused.)

We’re looking forward to hearing if anyone disagrees or agrees–confirmation is good, as we squirrels have witnessed human birdwatchers doing over and over!


A honeybee is a wasp who turned vegetarian.

Did you humans know this? We squirrels didn’t. But doing our bee research–actually trying to identify some bees–we learned that honeybees descended from wasps and they aren’t at all good at pollinating some vegetables that originated in North America, like blueberries!

Rather than chitter and chatter about these neat facts, we suggest you readers just go to the Native Bees of North America article on Bug Guide, especially if you have some of those ‘other’ bees and wasps hanging about your garden and want some confirmation they belong.

Or maybe you’d like to know what they are? We did.

Because wasps and hornets are the older species, it only seems right to let them go first. And stay a respectable distance away–this is all the closer Hickory wanted to get to this European Hornet.

european hornet

When they are all black and yellow (or white!), how can you tell it’s a wasp and not a bee? Wasps have little or no hair on their bodies. Their legs hang down while they fly. And maybe you don’t want to get this close to look at one’s face…

european hornet face

but those are biting mouth parts, not sipping ones! Wasps and hornets eat other insects, which is a really good thing in the animal world! Even squirrels leap aside when we see that warning flash of yellow and black–a sting will hurt! But wasps kill and eat many harmful insects…insects that eat your human foods. Insects that eat our food! One tiny wasp feeds on the eggs of Gypsy Moths, which like to eat White Oak leaves, which harms our acorn supply!

You humans have probably all seen a paper wasp nest. Here are the paper wasps.

paper wasp

They live in colonies like honeybees do, and feed on caterpillars, flies and beetle larvae–all of which eat garden plants–so are a huge help to humans growing food.

Most wasps live alone. The potter wasp makes its own little home out of clay.

potter wasp

But they are really hard to find. (In other words, send us a photo if you have one to share!) Other bees hide over winter in hollow stems. You can help them by not cleaning up your yard too much. Or if you do cut those dried flower stalks, set them in a corner until spring warms up. Or consider making and maintaining a ‘bee hotel’.

wasp and bee house

No, it doesn’t need to have this many rooms, and yes, we mentioned maintaining. It’s not something you can just put up and leave alone, according to The Pollinator Garden. These insects can fall ill if the hotel becomes moldy, or is placed in a spot that gets too wet. This website offers detailed instructions, for both Britain Isles and North American species. Start with The Pollinator Garden’s Make A Bee Hotel guide for Britain, which has most of the details and valuable cautions and links, and look for the North American link at the bottom.

Wasps and hornets may scare you humans since you don’t have protective fur, but every species helps our natural world in some way, so we encourage you to give them a chance!

When you run across a bit of danger…

There’s nothing like leaping branch to branch through in a tree. Sometimes Hickory and I feel we’re flying like the birds, we move so fast.

Then you come upon something that really makes you think I need to watch where I’m going!

Paper Wasps building a nest

Yep, paper wasps. Building a new nest. Luckily, we had swerved to avoid the wild rose tangle they were in and missed leaping into them. Also luckily, this was a tiny piece of new nest, with not many wasps around. This late in the summer, that means a nest broke in a storm.

“Or did the hive split and these ones are establishing with a new queen?” Hickory  asks with a twitch of his tail.

Well, we didn’t stick around to learn the answer.