Black-and-yellow striped

Bees in this category are the most wasp-like of them all. They typically have bold black and yellow striping similar to many of the mason and potter wasps (Eumenini), paper wasps (Polistes), and yellow-jackets (Dolichovespula and Vespula) in the northeast. Your bee might belong to one of the following genera:


  • nearly complete yellow bands on abdomen
  • common in gardens or disturbed areas


  • tiny, black bean-sized
  • cream-colored spots on abdomen
  • only found in heavily urbanized areas


  • brightly colored legs and abdomen
  • often encountered in spring hovering over ground


  • “smiley face” on thorax
  • wings often held out
  • seen in summer to coincide with longhorn bee hosts

None of these look right? Perhaps your bee is a bee mimic–a fly or a wasp! To learn more about distinguishing bees from non-bees, visit this other guide.

Paper wasp (Polistes)
Hover fly (Eristalis)

Still doesn’t match? Go back one step or to the start.