Bees, according to the Illinois Department of Health, each year asserts 50 to 100 people die from their stings. However, the honey bee play a key role in helping our environment and are very needed. They pollinate more than half of all fruits and vegetables. They also produce about 200 million pounds of honey per year. Without the work of this insect, our menu becomes very limited. There are three types of bees you'll most likely see in Chicago and the surrounding areas:


1. Honey Bees - Not to be confused by the Yellowjacket, it has more of a honey brown color. Whereas the Yellowjacket is black and bright yellow. They can survive the winter, therefore their colonies can grow to up to 50,000 individuals. You may see a swarm in the springtime but they are in transit and usually leave their resting place between 2-4 days.

2. Bumble Bees - You'll hear them buzzing around and they will rest under porches. They live in colonies of up to 200.

3. Carpenter Bees - It looks similar to the bumble bee but has a shiny, all black abdomen. They are solitary pests. The female will bore holes into wood and lay eggs. You will see the male carpenter bee guarding the hole but fortunately the male cannot sting.


Though related and often confused, these two insects differ in important ways. Wasps possess a narrow "waistline" where the front portion of the abdomen tapers to become a small tube as it attaches to the middle body section. the thorax. Bees do not have this narrowing of the abdomen. Another difference, honey, bumble, and carpenters feed on nectar and give pollen to their young (larvae), while wasps feed larvae insects and spiders. Yellowjackets and hornets will seek scavenger foods, including fruits, sweets and meats. Yellowjackets sting repeatedly, while others sting and lose their stingers.