Getting to Know Rhode Island Wasps and Bees

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on May 25, 2023 · 3 mins read

If you’re spending time in your Rhode Island backyard, it’s likely you’ll come across a few flying insects. While some are harmless, others can be dangerous if provoked. Here’s what you need to know about wasps and bees in Rhode Island.

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.

Different Types of Wasps

There are several types of wasps that you may encounter in Rhode Island. The most common are paper wasps, yellow jackets, and bald-faced hornets.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are brown with yellow markings and are often found building their nests under eaves or on tree branches. They are not typically aggressive unless their nests are disturbed.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are black and yellow and have a smooth stinger, which means they can sting multiple times. They are known for being quite aggressive and will defend their nest if they feel threatened.

Bald-Faced Hornets

Bald-faced hornets are black with white markings and build their nests high above the ground in trees or on buildings. Like yellow jackets, they are also very aggressive when defending their nests.

Types of Bees

Bees play an important role in pollinating plants and flowers, but some species can be a nuisance or even dangerous.


Honeybees are the most common type of bee and are usually docile unless their hive is disturbed. If you come across a swarm of bees, it’s best to stay away and contact a professional beekeeper to have them removed.


Bumblebees are larger than honeybees and have a fuzzy appearance. They are not typically aggressive, but they do have a painful sting.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are large, shiny, and black with a yellow underside. They are known for drilling holes into wood structures, such as decks and fences, which can cause damage over time.

Identifying Wasps and Bees

If you’re unsure whether you’re dealing with a wasp or bee, there are a few ways to tell them apart. Wasps have pointy waists, while bees have thicker, more rounded ones. Bees are also hairier than wasps, and their legs are wider and flatter. Finally, bees feed on pollen and nectar, while wasps feed on other insects and sugary substances.


Now that you know more about the types of wasps and bees you might find in your Rhode Island backyard, you can take steps to avoid getting stung. Remember to steer clear of nests, wear protective clothing if necessary, and contact a professional if you need help removing a hive or swarm. By being aware of these pests and taking precautions, you can enjoy your outdoor space safely.