I found some bees or wasps, in my garden.

Auckland, New Zealand 13mm long head to abdomen, fluffy on thorax and head. Abdomen is orange brown with black stripes.

The nest or hive is underground (otherwise I'd suspect honey bee, though they seem a little smaller even than honey bee workers).

I managed to catch one eventually, but then I realised the container had oxide powder, so the bee in the attached picture is a lot blacker than it was in life. It is also dead ( just in case that's not obvious)

They don't seem to be aggressive - there is a new fence being built right past their nest, they don't seem to be bothered by it.enter image description here

I am a beekeeper but only beginning, so I do have honeybee workers to compare it to, but not a whole lot of experience.

NOTE: it is autumn (fall) here - high temperature was 23° c (73° f)

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, that stinger looks dangerous $\endgroup$ Mar 21, 2018 at 2:09
  • $\begingroup$ What is the approximate size of the nest (number of individuals)? tens, hundreds? a few individuals? $\endgroup$
    – Bugmo
    Mar 21, 2018 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ As I said, the nest was underground, so I don't know how big it is. I'd say there were about 30 individuals within about a meter radius of the entrance coming or going at any time (sunny day - my beehive had about 5 times that number at the same time). I'd say thousands to maybe 10,000 inside, extrapolating from my hive, comparing apples to oranges. $\endgroup$
    – Jay Bee
    Mar 21, 2018 at 6:07

2 Answers 2


It is a vespid wasp (family vespidae). Bees are generally hairy, and this one has the typical wing folding of a vespid. Genus Vespula. There is a New Zealand website that shows the differences among common NZ wasps here: https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/science/plants-animals-fungi/animals/invertebrates/invasive-invertebrates/wasps/identification/key-differences

  • $\begingroup$ All the pictures I can find of these are quite yellow - these are much more orange. Also, these pictures show a small amount of hair - these are furry like honey bees, on thorax and head $\endgroup$
    – Jay Bee
    Mar 21, 2018 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ Bees are hairy on the abdomen. That is not a bee. $\endgroup$
    – Karl Kjer
    Mar 21, 2018 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ Rephrasing my previous comment: these are furry on thorax and head, like bees, but (unlike bees) not on the abdomen $\endgroup$
    – Jay Bee
    Mar 21, 2018 at 6:26
  • $\begingroup$ @JayBee Vasps are often hairy on the thorax and head. Look at the link included in this answer (of google Vespula) $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2018 at 10:59

Looks like it might be a European tube wasp

tube wasp

  • $\begingroup$ Why do you think so? What details make you suggest this wasp rather than others? $\endgroup$
    – bli
    Mar 21, 2018 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ Wasps are differentiated by their wing patterns, the way they fold their wings at rest, their eye shapes,wing veinal pattern and abdominal colouration pattern. The sample is dead and not at rest, and is discoloured by the oxidation. But the colouring most closely resembles the one I selected. The rest of the characteristics are too obscured. But there's likely a nest nearby so he could capture another one. $\endgroup$ Mar 21, 2018 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ The head and jaws don't look like Ancistrocerus but are perfect for Vespa or Dolichovespula $\endgroup$
    – Samuel DR
    Aug 13, 2018 at 11:22

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