Identify Local Bees, Wasps & Hornets

Bees, Wasps & Hornets


Our region is home to many species of stinging insects  ranging from the beneficial honeybee to the wasp.

Primary Species In Our Region

South Dakota’s State Insect

The Honey Bee


The Honey Bee has stripes on it’s abdomen and a fuzzy thorax. They are not as brightly colored as wasps. You can sometimes spot them by their full pollen pouches. They live in hives. In some states it is illegal to spray a honey bee hive. Even in SD, beekeepers will move them for you to save the dropping numbers of honey bees.

Bald Faced Hornet


Workers are about 5/8-3/4 inches; queens are 3/4 of an inch long or more. Mostly black in color with a white pattern over its face, bald-faced hornets build paper enclosed, gray aerial nests that are generally found in trees, chimneys, under eaves, or behind siding on your property.

Carpenter Bee

Image result for carpenter bee

Carpenter bees range in size from 1/2 to 1 inch long and are distinguishable by their shiny, black abdomen and “hovering” flight pattern.  The adult female carpenter bee uses her chewing mouth parts to bore dime-sized holes into wood to create a 5 to 8 inch long chamber in which to lay her eggs.

Paper Wasp


Around 1 inch in length, paper wasps are dark brown in color with black wings and yellow markings.  They are often mistaken for yellow jackets as their body coloring is similar.  Nests are found under eaves, behind attic vents, inside outdoor lighting, grills, and other enclosed areas.

Yellow Jacket


Adult workers are 3/8 to 5/8 inches long, depending on species; queens are generally longer. Yellow Jackets are black in color with yellow markings on the body and prefer to construct their nests in the ground, but can be found in attics, behind walls, inside hollow trees and other landscapes.

Why are they here?

Bees, wasps, and hornets are commonly found every spring and late summer. Their main goal is finding food, so if you see them, that’s what they’re trying to do. In turn they help by pollinating 1/3 of our food supply. Without them there would be less food for us!

 There is a small flurry of activity in the spring as the queens emerge from their overwintering sites to locate new nesting locations and begin developing their populations. In the late summer, that’s when the worker bees and wasps really get active and aggressive. During that time of year, their whole goal is to carbohydrate-load (nectar, pollen, sweets) so they can feed the queen so she can survive the winter to carry on their colony in the spring.  All the other bees/wasps die off in the winter.

Are They Dangerous?

Bees, wasps and hornets are often considered a nuisance pest. While they are capable of causing varying reactions with their stings including mild redness, swelling and even death especially to those with a severe allergy, generally many of them do not harm if not provoked.

There’s more here! Check out the links below!

Click Here to Read About Local Bees and Wasps.

Click Here to See our Project

Click here to see how we are working with the Washington Pavilion.

Click Here for Challenge 1

Click Here for Challenge 2

Click Here to Play a Bee Game on Scratch