Identifying Washington Wasps and Bees in Your Backyard

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on June 01, 2023 · 3 mins read

Are you curious about the buzzing insects in your backyard? Do you want to know which ones are friendly and which ones to avoid? In this article, we’ll introduce you to the most common types of wasps and bees found in Washington state, and help you identify them.

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.

The Buzz About Bees

Bees are essential pollinators that play a vital role in our ecosystem. There are over 600 species of bees in Washington state alone! Here are some of the most common ones you might see in your backyard:


Honeybees are the most well-known type of bee. They are typically small and brownish-yellow, and are known for their ability to produce honey. If you see a cluster of bees flying in and out of a small hole, it’s probably a hive of honeybees.


Bumblebees are larger and fuzzier than honeybees, and they come in a variety of colors such as black, yellow, and orange. They are important pollinators for crops like blueberries and tomatoes.

Mason Bees

Mason bees are a solitary species of bee that doesn’t live in colonies or hives. Instead, they lay their eggs in small holes in wood or masonry. Look for small, metallic blue or green bees buzzing around your yard.

Wasp Watch

Wasps often get a bad rap because some species can be aggressive and sting. However, many wasps are actually beneficial to have in your yard because they prey on other insects. Here are a few types of wasps you might see:

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are perhaps the most well-known type of wasp. They are often mistaken for bees because of their black and yellow stripes, but they have a slimmer body and less hair. Yellow jackets are social insects that build large nests underground or in trees.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are named for their papery nests, which are often found hanging from eaves or tree branches. They are slender with long legs and are usually brownish-yellow in color.

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers are solitary wasps that build small nests out of mud. They are usually black or metallic blue in color and have a very thin waist. Mud daubers are beneficial because they prey on spiders.


Now that you know more about the buzzing insects in your backyard, you can identify which ones are friends and foes. Remember, bees are important pollinators that should be welcomed in your yard, while wasps can be beneficial or harmful depending on the species. By being able to recognize different types of insects, you can create a safer and more welcoming environment for both yourself and these important creatures.