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European Wasps and Bees

How to identify the difference between European wasps and bees, and what to do if you find an infestation in Knox.

What's the difference between European Wasps and Bees?

Wasp and Bee

European Wasps

European wasps are approximately 15-25 mm in length and have bright yellow and black stripes on their back half with black dots between the stripes, down each side of the abdomen. They also have bright yellow legs and have longer, thicker antennae than bees.

European wasps can nest in various locations including wall, ceiling and tree cavities however the most likely place to find a European wasp nest is in the ground.

European wasp nests are easily sighted by the constant activity going to and from the nest and particularly just above the nest however the entrance to the nest may be well hidden.


Bees are approximately 15 mm in length and display a dull shade of yellow or a golden brown colour and have black stripes around their body. They have black legs, unlike the European wasps that have yellow legs.

Bees often nest in tree or wall cavities and can nest in compost bins. Bees, unlike European wasps, are generally not aggressive and will go about their day to day activities unless they feel threatened or are under attack. Try to stay away from the path of swarming bees or wasps.

What to do about Wasps and Bees on Council Property

Bee Hive

If you locate a wasp nest or bee hive on Council property ie: public parks, walkways, nature strips and reserves and you believe it poses a risk to the public you should report them by contacting Knox Council’s Parks Services on 9298 8000.

Bee image courtesy of Ken Walker: Museum Victoria

What to do about Wasps and Bees on Private Property


Council does not treat wasp nests or bee hives on private property.

Bee hives can be removed by a registered apiarist if it is hanging from a tree or shrub however if the hive is located in a log or a wall cavity, eradication will be required by a licensed pest controller. You can contact the Victorian Apiarists Association or by calling 5446 1455 to locate a qualified apiarist in your area or through the Yellow Pages.

If you have found a wasp nest on your property it is recommended that you contact a licensed pest controller from the Yellow Pages to treat the nest. If you are confident enough to treat the nest yourself there are a number of products available through hardware stores or supermarkets. You are always advised to carefully read and follow any product instructions.

DO NOT treat a wasp nest yourself if you are allergic to wasp or bee stings.
Wasp image courtesy of Ken Walker: Museum Victoria

What to do about Wasps and Bees located on Power Poles

For wasp nests or bee hives located in or on power poles please contact SP Ausnet on 13 17 99.

Keeping Bees in Victoria

To keep bees in Victoria, you must register as a beekeeper with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) and comply with the Apiary Code of Practice. There are strict guidelines for keeping bees in Victoria and you should always be mindful that bees can often become a concern for neighbours.

For more information about bee keeping in Victoria, please contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186.

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