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How to Identify a Honeybee and Other Flying Insects in Texas

When we get a call for a live honeybee hive removal in North Texas, the first step is to make sure the insects we are going to remove are actually honeybees. Some people see a flying insect and assume it is a honeybee, but in North Texas we have a variety of flying insects often mistaken for honeybees, including carpenter bees, bumblebees, southern yellow jackets, mud daubers, and lots of different types of wasps. Not all flying insects are the same! We’ve put together a handy little blog to help you sort out what kind of flying insect you may have zooming around your backyard.

How to Identify a Bee

First, they are cute! We might be a little biased, but we love honeybees. One key visual identifier for honeybees is that they are hairy. Southern yellow jackets and other wasps have no hair. Their coloring is golden brown with black stripes across their abdomen. If you take a closer at a North Texas honeybee on a plant, you can see yellow on their legs. Honeybees have little “baskets” on their legs to store pollen.

Unless you have Africanized honeybees, most are docile. They do not usually sting unless you smash one by accident or somehow attack the hive. Honeybees are interested in flowers and flora and are not very interested in humans.

Another key identifier of a honey bee is the nest. Honeybees build their comb out of the wax they produce. It can be hard to find a hive though because they are often hidden behind a wall or cavity. We can help identify and confirm if honeybees are the insect you see at your home with some simple questions we ask over the phone.

How to Identify Bumblebees

Per Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas is home to nine different species of bumblebees. Bumblebees are bigger than regular honeybees and are also hairy. Their body is covered with fuzzy yellow and black striped hair.  They are most often confused with carpenter bees. The main differentiator between bumblebees and carpenter bees is bumblebees have a smaller head and hair on their abdomen. Carpenter bees have a larger head and no hair on their abdomen. If you have a chance to get an up-close look, you will see that bumblebees also have pollen baskets on their back legs. If you see one pollinating, you will hear a buzzing sound. That noise helps them remove pollen from plants.

Unlike honeybees, bumblebees live in the ground and build their nest in abandoned mammal holes and under porches and in wall voids. You won’t find a hive or honeycomb with a bumblebee.

How to Identify a Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees are the larger than honeybees and bumblebees. The carpenter bee looks a lot like a bumblebee. They have a black body with yellow and black hair on their head and thorax. Their abdomen is bald and shiny, not fuzzy like the bumblebee belly.

If you see a larger bee coming in and out of a hole in wood, for example, a fence post or pergola, that is a carpenter bee. They build their home in unstained and unpainted wood.  They create a hole in wood that appears as though it was created with a power drill, perfectly round. You will find a small pile of sawdust underneath the hole. Unlike bumblebees, carpenter bees are solitary. The female carpenter bee lays her egg in the holes in wood they create. Males cannot sting but may fly at you aggressively. Females can sting but do not unless you stick your finger in their nesting hole or swat them.

How to Identify a Yellow Jacket

European and Southern yellow jackets are our least favorite flying insect at Little Giant Beekeepers. If you’ve been stung and it hurt like heck, then you might have encountered a yellow jacket. Due to the similarity in coloring and size, yellow jackets are often mistaken for the more docile honeybees.

One big differentiator from a honeybee is yellow jackets have a narrow waist and are hairless. They have a shiny yellow and black striped abdomen. Their coloring can make them look like bees, but they are in the wasp family. They do not have pollen baskets on their legs since they do not pollinate.

A main yellow jacket descriptor is their personality. They are aggressive. They can sting multiple times with their barb, and it is quite painful.  They will aggressively defend their nest and do not die after stinging you. You will not usually find yellow jackets on a flower or in a garden unless they have a nest nearby. Yellow jackets are considered carnivorous and eat other insects like ants.

Southern yellow jackets build their nest out of a paper fiber; it almost looks like papier mache.

How to Identify a Mud Dauber

Mud Daubers look scary but are harmless! They can sting but they most likely will not. They get their name from the elaborate nest they create out of mud. Usually, they have blackish brown bodies with yellow markings. They have a very small thread-thin waist, linking the thorax and abdomen and have a large head.

One of the easiest identifiers of a mud dauber is their mud nest. The female makes a nest out of mud on the exterior of a structure, like a porch, overhang or eave. They are a solidarity creature. One female creates the nest and lays the eggs. Mud daubers can be great for spider control as they feed their larvae spiders.

These are just some of the flying insects you might encounter in Texas. If you find you are having honeybee issues and need a live honeybee hive removal or another flying insect removed, please call Little Giant Beekeepers at 972-980-0923 for a free estimate. We will ask you some simple questions over the phone to find out what flying insect is buzzing around your house.

Honey Valentine Gift Ideas for your Honey

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Love is in the air, but do you have a valentine gift planned for your honey? Is your heart pounding because you don’t know what to get your honey for Valentine’s Day? Sure, a little blue box is lovely, but it’s not the perfect fit for all gift recipients. Here are some Valentine’s ideas Little Giant Beekeepers has come up with to make your love’s heart pound…and you relax because you found a great gift.

They say a couple that hobbies together stay together, so why not start a new one you both can enjoy? Beekeeping is picking up momentum as a fun, unique backyard hobby. We won’t lie, it’s not as easy as a Netflix bingefest, but once you get it going, it can bring joy for years to come. It’s often a shared hobby because it is a little labor intensive. A hobby that helps the environment and a couple, what’s not to love? Also, this truly is the gift that keeps on giving… honey.

Now that we are talking ambitious gifts, how about a Valentine’s home reno project a couple can get behind? Why not update a backsplash or bathroom floor with this adorable honeycomb tile design?  Retiling a bathroom or backsplash might not seem that romantic at first, but there are tons of couple reno shows on cable now so why not give it a try yourself? If you ask us, the hexagon or honeycomb, is the new subway tile and, it’s #trending everywhere!  Bees have known this for ions of course, but the hexagon is not only aesthetically pleasing it is also a super strong design. According to Sue Cobey, a bee researcher at Washington State University, “The geometry of this shape uses the least amount of material to hold the most weight.” Man, those bees are smart.

How about some less ambitious Valentine’s plans? Say, you’re gonna plan a lovely candlelight meal with your honey at home. Well, nothing speaks romance more than the dim glow of candles. How about some candles that won’t interfere with the smell of your dinner? Real honeycomb wax candles are a beautiful way to light the night and won’t emit a floral or fruity smell like so many candles, a perfect accompaniment to our next idea.

Light the beeswax candles and make a romantic dinner. Steak anyone? Honey plays a role in the perfect marinade. Here is a delicious black pepper honey steak recipe from the Splendid Table. The honey, garlic, and red wine recipe had us salivating. Enjoying your dinner with the family, including the littles? How about making homemade chicken tenders and creating your own ever-popular honey mustard sauce?

Getting ready for a big Valentine’s night out? Don’t forget the honey Valentine gift! Honey has played a role in women’s beauty routines since before Cleopatra. Her most famous beauty secret was her ritual of bathing in milk and honey. The lactic acid in milk acts as an exfoliate, and the soothing honey makes you soft and smell wonderful. Get ready for date night by adding 2 cups of milk and ½ cup of honey to your bath at home. Cleopatra also used honey in a face mask. Blend 1 tablespoon of honey with two tablespoons of cream and let it set for 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water and get ready to glow.

Of course, we love bees and honey at Little Giant Beekeepers! But, we also realize you don’t want them residing in the eaves of your house. If you’re are looking for a live hive honeybee removal company in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we are your Valentine! Call us at 972-980-0923 to ask questions and to schedule an appointment today.

Honey Gifts for the Holidays

Looking to DYI some homemade holiday honey gifts? How about some sweet ideas to make with honey?

Jar of Honey

We love a simple gift of a beautiful jar of honey and a honey dipper. Honey can help with everything from allergies to eczema so local honey can be a hit with neighbors and friends. You can usually find it at a local health food store or local green market.

Honey Roasted Nuts

Everyone loves honey roasted nuts, how about this simple recipe for the homemade version? They are perfect for holiday parties too. Add a cute tag and you are ready to gift!


  • 1/2 cup Sue Bee® Honey
  • 6 cups nuts (any desired combination)
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted nuts)


  • Melt together honey and margarine.
  • Pour over nuts and mix.
  • Spread mixture on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with seasonings.
  • Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes stirring several times until golden.
  • Spread mixture onto waxed paper and cool completely.
  • Break nuts apart and store in airtight container.

Infused Honey and Other Ideas for Honey Gifts

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Infused honey is another great idea for honey gifts.

“The natural flavors of the honey and the herbs will come together for a delicate waltz of sweet floral and earthy tones. You can then use your herbed-honey for baking, dressings, sauces, beverages, or simply drizzled over warm bread.” –

If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, there is still time to get your Etsy honey gift orders in too!

Check out Pinterest for a plethora of amazing honey ideas.

Happy Honey Holidays from Little Giant Beekeepers!

What exactly are Africanized honey bees?

Africanized honey bees, Africanized bees or killer bees – whatever you call them, sound like something right out of a horror movie script. As a matter of fact, the 1978 horror movie The Swarm was based on Africanized honey bees. Unfortunately, their threat can be a real horror and over the last 60 years since their introduction to the Americas, Africanized honey bees have been known to kill dogs, horses, cattle and even humans upon occasion. The truth of the matter is their sting is no more vicious than the docile European honey bees’ sting, it’s how they react when protecting their hive that should give you a scare.

What exactly are Africanized honey bees?

Africanized bees are a sub-species of honey bees that like their name would suggest are originally from Africa. Bees have different sub-species throughout the world and they have some differences in the way they behave and breed. In Africa, honey bees must compete with an aggressive set of predators. From wasps, honey badgers, and desert environments, bees in Africa have a lot of elements they must fight for survival. All this makes for a strong, aggressive breed of bee.

In the 1950’s a scientist imported some of these African honey bees to San Paulo, Brazil in attempt to breed them with European honey bees and increase honey production. That next year many of the queen bees and swarms of European worker bees accidentally escaped the apiary. They started breeding with European honey bees colonies across Brazil and then beyond and started spreading their more aggressive genes. As time passed, these bees have spread further north and into Texas and beyond. As they continue to breed with European honey bee colonies, these colonies take on more aggressive traits. It is almost impossible to tell just by looking if a colony is Africanized or not. Most of the time you must decide if it is Africanized simply by the behavior and level of aggression.

Why should I worry about Africanized honey bees?

An Africanized honey bee hive reacts differently to disturbance than a European honey bee hive. They are much more aggressive in nature and territorial of their hive. Also, they have a larger danger zone in which they will attack. They have a greater number of “guard” bees in their colony too. If a person is to accidentally disturb an Africanized hive, the bees are more prone to swarm and sting the “intruder” as well as give chase. These bees do not react well to sound. Each summer, we hear a news story of an unfortunate home owner who happens to be minding their own business, mowing a lawn, and is repeatedly attacked by a colony of killer bees. Africanized honey bees are more defensive than their European honey bee counterparts and sounds and vibrations, such as from a lawnmower too close to their colony, can set them off. Unlike a more docile European honey bee colony, disturb an Africanized colony and they can give chase up to a ¼ of a mile.

We love doing live honey bee hive removals at Little Giant Bee Keepers. Often we will send our bee technicians out to a live removal and only when we start the job realize we are dealing with an Africanized honey bee colony. In general, it is not a good idea to do a live hive removal on an Africanized bee colony. We do not want to introduce these bees to a traditional European honey bee apiary and have them cross breed more with European bees. It is also dangerous for our technicians to deal with an angry swarm of Africanized bees. It is dangerous for the people of the house and neighborhood since they can attack for up to ¼ of a mile away from a nest.

What should you do if you think you have Africanized bees?

Do you feel like you have found a hive that seems aggressive in the Dallas Fort Worth area? Are bees swarming you when you try to mow the lawn or simply go out to enjoy your yard? Has your dog or pet been stung just hanging out in their yard? Call or email Little Giant Beekeepers and we can help rid your house or yard of Africanized bees.

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