A poster outlining distinguishing features of bees, wasps and flies. Click on the image to see it full sized.

The differences between bees, wasps and flies

This video shows a honey bee along side a group of wasps, and illustrates some of the latter's eating habits (warning this video is a little graphic):

Check out this citizen scientist pollinator monitoring guide for more details on the differences between bees, wasps, and flies.

There's also a great video here that offers a fascinating overview of the many different types of bees.

Photo credits:

Title : Honey Bee Macro by Karunakar Rayker (CC-BY-NC)3A wasp by Trounce/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

Intro: Blue by Louise Docker (CC-BY)Native bee by Nuytsia@Tas (CC-BY-NC-SA)Female Metallic Green Bee by sankax (CC-BY-NC) Nomade -- Cuckoo Bee by Gilles Gonthier (CC-BY) After the heat by Jean and Fred Hort (CC-BY-NC) Large Cuckoo Wasp (Stilbum cyanurum) by David Cook (CC-BY-NC) Wasp in low light by jeevan jose (CC-BY-NC-SA)My best pose by Buddy Venturanza (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Anatomy: IMG_2996 by klaas de gelder (CC-BY-NC) European Wasp on a white background by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos ( CC-BY-NC)

Food: Bee by Trey Ratcliff (CC-BY-NC-SA) Abeille (me tirant la langue) sur une fleur de pissenlit by Thomas Bresson (CC-BY) Hungry bee by Jaume Tor�n (CC-BY-NC-SA) Metallic Green Bee_crop by mommamia (CC-BY-NC-SA) Thread-waisted wasp with prey by Patrick Coin (CC-BY-NC-SA)Meat Bee by Beej Jorgensen (CC-BY-NC)Blue Flower Wasp by Louise Docker (CC-BY)Apple eaten by wasps by metal213 (CC-BY)

Nest: oh, hi! by Rob Cruickshank (CC-BY)Bees Nest by Steve Harris (CC-BY-NC)Apis mellifera by Ernie (Public domain)Hylaeus emerging by Rob Cruickshank (CC-BY)Save the Habitat! by Karunakar Rayker (CC-BY)Paper Wasp (Polistes major) by Bob Peterson (CC-BY-SA)10 wasp nest by Sharon Brogan (CC-BY-NC-SA)Zeta argillaceum's nest construction process by Alex Popovkin (CC-BY)

Flies: Thick-Headed Fly? by Bob Peterson (CC-BY-SA)Sicus ferrugineus by Christophe Quintin (CC-BY-NC)Spot eyes by Jean and Fred Hort (CC-BY-NC) Marmalade Hoverfly by Goutam Gujjar (CC-BY-NC-SA)Florida Bee Killer (Mallophora bomboides) by Bob Peterson (CC-BY-SA)Hoverfly by Dendroica cerulea (CC-BY)

As a beekeeper I often have the opportunity to speak to people about why bees are dying or colony collapse disorder (CCD). In response I’ve developed the Honey Bee Murder Mystery Game.

bee mystery - preview page 1

We've put together two versions for different age groups. Choose the one you would like to download here:

1) For kids (pdf 4.9M).

2) For teens - adults (pdf 5.3M).

3) See the bottom of this page if you want source files or other variations of the above.

Here is a sample game card from the two different versions:

sample of different versions

Watch a slide show of all the cards here.

Age: 10-adult. Time: 30 minutes.

Intro ideas: 5 minutes

- Importance of pollination if not previously discussed or bees and co-operation(it’s a co-operative game).

- Explain they are going to play a murder mystery game. A beekeeper named Billy has lost all his bees and that they will each receive a character card. They will take on the role of this character and talk to each other to discover what happened to the bees.

Hand out game cards: 5 minutes

- There are 16 game cards.

- The first page of 8 game cards should be enough to play the game if it is a smaller group.

- If you make two sets of cards, larger groups can be split into teams and compete to solve the mystery first.

- Each person should get one card. Give them a minute or two to get familiar with their character.

Playing the game: 15 minutes

They will then be asked to work as a group, sharing information with each other to try and solve the mystery.

Conclusion: 5 minutes

Have the students explain their conclusions. Let them know it’s a real phenomenon called CCD and discuss any questions the game raises.

bee mystery - preview page 2


Groups using the full set of characters should be able to identify stress of transportation on bees, pest/diseases, queen genetics and poor nutrition for bees on mono-crop farms, and pesticide use as contributing factors.

Related resources

More than Honey (FIlm)

Queen of the Sun (FIlm)

5 Things Kids Can Do to Help Pollinators

What You Can Do For Pollinators

Get the Buzz on Honey Bees (Various elementary lesson plans from scholastic)

Understanding the Science: the Impact of Imidacloprid on Bees (web page)

Killing Bees: Are Government and Industry Responsible? (online video)


To the Toronto Beekeeper’s Co-op for all I’ve learned with them, Dave Barr for writing the simplified version of the text, Melissa Berney for editing the texts, and all the photographers who made their photo’s available for me to use via a Creative Commons license (see game file for details).

Other Versions

1) The teen-adult version with solid white behind the text (pdf 4.8M). - This might help those having trouble getting readable photocopies.

2) This version has no text on the game cards (pdf 3.8M). - Use this if you'd like to write your own text.

3) This is the ziped PSD file (zip 58M). - Use this if you want to use photoshop to edit the game cards.

4) Game text of kids version - Use this if you would like to translate the game into another language. I will make new graphic game cards from translated text.

The Honey Bee Murder Mystery Game is published under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0. You are free to copy and distribute this work for non-commercial purposes as long as you attribute it to: Shawn Caza of http://www.beekeeping.isgood.ca