How to Identify Bees & Wasps in Texas

A bee on a flower
A bee on a flower (Image: Bee image by Tamas Majer from

Wasps and bees are common throughout the United States. Along with ants, bees and wasps belong to the Hymenoptera order of insects. There are more than 1,000 types of bees in Texas. The Hymenoptera order sports 70 families and more than 18,000 species across North America. Worldwide, there are 125,000 known species; it is one of the most diverse insect groups on the planet.

Things You'll Need

  • Binoculars
  • Magnifying glass

Observe the wing structure of the insect under magnification, if possible. Use the magnifying glass or the binoculars for this purpose. Typically the Hymenoptera order has two pairs of wings, with the hindwings usually smaller than the forewings. Ants are wingless in most stages of their life.

Notice that the wings of the insect has few cross-veins.

Observe the antennae segments. A male will normally have 13 segments, a female 12. However, there can be as few three and as many as 60 segments. The antennae will be longer than the head.

Observe the stinger. Females can have stingers. This is an overdeveloped ovipositor, which is used for laying eggs and paralyzing prey.

Observe the chewing mouth parts. Some types have tiny "tongues" used for sampling nectar or fluids.

Observe the many stages of the Hymenoptera order, as they all go through complete metamorphoses.

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