Understanding New Jersey Wasps and Bees: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on May 16, 2023 · 5 mins read

If you’re a homeowner in New Jersey, chances are you’ve seen some buzzing and flying around in your backyard. But do you know which ones are wasps and which ones are bees? And more importantly, do you know how to keep yourself and your family safe from stings?

DIY Wasp removal recommendations

For non aggressive wasps I've had great luck spraying the nests with this Spectracide wasp remover in the evening. For more aggressive wasps I also use this rediculous looking upper torso Beekeeping suit. It seems silly, but trust me, it's amazing.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of New Jersey wasps and bees. We’ll start by discussing the common types of wasps and bees found in the state, how to identify them, and their behavior. Then, we’ll share some tips on how to keep your backyard safe and bee-friendly.

Types of Wasps in New Jersey

New Jersey is home to several types of wasps, including paper wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are named after the papery nests they build in trees, shrubs, and eaves. They are long and slender with narrow waists and can grow up to 1 inch in length. Their colors range from brown to black, with yellow or orange markings.

Paper wasps are not typically aggressive unless their nest is disturbed. If you see a papery nest in your backyard, it’s best to avoid it and call a professional if you need it removed.


Yellowjackets are small, black and yellow wasps that are often mistaken for bees. They are aggressive and will sting repeatedly if provoked. Yellowjackets build their nests underground, in voids, or in cavities such as tree stumps.


Hornets are large wasps that can grow up to 2 inches in length. They have a black and white striped body and a distinctively shaped head. Hornets build their nests high up in trees or on buildings, and they can be very aggressive when their nest is threatened.

Types of Bees in New Jersey

New Jersey is also home to several types of bees, including honey bees, bumblebees, and carpenter bees.

Honey Bees

Honey bees are the most well-known type of bee. They are small, fuzzy, and yellow and black in color. Honey bees are social insects and live in hives. They are important pollinators and play a crucial role in our ecosystem.


Bumblebees are larger than honey bees and have a black and yellow striped body. They are also social insects and live in colonies. Bumblebees are important pollinators and are less aggressive than other types of bees.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are solitary bees that bore holes in wood to create nests for their young. They look similar to bumblebees but are larger and have a shiny abdomen. Carpenter bees can cause damage to wooden structures, but they rarely sting.

How to Identify Wasps and Bees

Identifying wasps and bees can be tricky, but there are a few key differences to look for. Wasps are generally longer and slimmer than bees, with a more defined waist. They also have smooth, shiny bodies without the fuzz that bees have.

Bees, on the other hand, are rounder and fuzzier than wasps. They have branched hairs on their bodies, which helps them collect pollen.

Behavior of Wasps and Bees

Understanding the behavior of wasps and bees can help you avoid getting stung. Wasps are typically more aggressive than bees and will sting multiple times if threatened. Bees, on the other hand, will usually only sting once before flying away.

It’s important to remember that both wasps and bees are important pollinators and play a crucial role in our ecosystem. If you find a nest in your backyard, it’s best to call a professional to remove it instead of attempting to do it yourself.

Keeping Your Backyard Safe and Bee-Friendly

There are several things you can do to keep your backyard safe and bee-friendly. First, avoid disturbing wasp and bee nests. If you need to remove a nest, call a professional.

Second, provide plenty of flowers and plants for bees to pollinate. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your yard, as they can harm bees and other beneficial insects.

Finally, make sure to keep food and drinks covered when eating outside to avoid attracting wasps and other flying insects.

By following these tips, you can enjoy a safe and bee-friendly backyard in New Jersey!