Bees, Ants and Wasps are well-represented in the order Hymenoptera as some 18,000 species are recognized just in North America with about another 115,000 found worldwide. This order produces a variety of species types that make for a variety of relationships with humans – some of these insects are excel at controlling other pest populations while others provide much appreciated honey and wax for usable goods while still others can serve as valuable resources to medical and research communities. There are those, however, that are inherently more aggressive and willing to sting humans (sometimes generating allergic reactions) or build their colonies close to or inside homes. If these species rely on people food sources, inevitably making their way into our food stores, earning them the label of “pests”.
Species in this order may walk or have wings to fly, but all have flexible mouth parts for chewing. Most are highly social creatures living in large masses known as colonies or hives. This group of insects may be active in the day or at night though most are guided by the light and warmth of the summer sun and activity generally depend on the seasons. Bees are different from Wasps and Ants as they feed off of nectar and pollen and will use these food sources to feed their young. Wasps and Ants, though, are more predatory species and may hunt prey or feed off of nectar and honeydew sources and will feed their young any prey that is caught.
As some of the most social of insects, Hymenopterans thrive in large concentrations of their kind where each member of the community has a purpose that benefits the group. Participants also teach newer generations so as to pass on tasks to growing young. These tasks include defense and repair of the colony or hive, child-rearing or food gathering to ensure the next generation has a chance of survival. Warrior and worker types (“Drones” among Bumble/Honey Bees) are females without the ability to procreate while queens mate and the males die shortly after. Once a hive or colony is begun, a queen does not have to mate again. She carries enough “fertilizer” to conceive millions of eggs. The queen of some of these species has the power to select which eggs become fertilized based on the needs of the colony. Eggs that are fertilized produce females while unfertilized eggs produce males.