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Wasps and Hornets Don't Collect Pollen

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Bees and wasps and hornets are in the same family, Hymenoptera, but have certain differences. In all cases, only the females can sting, as the egg-laying ovipositor also functions as the stinger. The female bees also are the sex which collects pollen, either in special structures called corbiculae, or in hairs on their bodies. For bees, pollen collection is necessary as bees make a mixture of pollen and nectar which serves as the food source for their young.

You won’t find pollen collecting structures on wasps and hornets as they feed their young some form of meat.   Most of them capture insects or spiders, paralyze them with the toxins in their sting, and lay their egg on this fresh source of food.  Yellow jackets, however, feed their young masticated meat, particularly from caterpillars.  So these often aggressive insects do have benefits for us vegetable gardeners.   

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.