‘Float like a butterfly … ’

By Nancy Black

I got stung by a bee! Yikes. It hurt.

I was moving a huge plant I bought at an estate sale from the back of my van into my garden. As I placed the large container down, I felt a quick sting on the knuckle of my ring finger. Then I saw the culprit. I wasn’t a bee, it was a wasp.

What’s the difference between a wasp and a bee? I wondered about this as I waited to see if my finger swelled up. Turns out wasps and honey bees are both members of the Hymenoptera order of insects. According to Diffen.com, bees are pollinators, which essentially means that they collect pollen and sip on nectar. Wasps are usually predators who eat other insects such as caterpillars and flies. Bees use the poison in their stingers to protect their hives or themselves. The stinger of a honeybee is sharp and pointy. It stays in the skin after a person is stung. When a bee stings you, its stinger is ripped from its thorax and the bee dies.

Wasps are more aggressive and will sting you just because you’re in their way, like I was. The stinger of a wasp is smooth. Their stingers do not detach and embed in skin, so they can sting multiple times. Wasps do not die after they sting you.

I did not have any adverse reactions after being stung by the wasp, but many people do. A small percentage of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, the Mayo Clinic reports. Anaphylaxis from bee stings is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. If you do have an allergic reaction to a sting — like nausea, convulsions or fever — seek emergency help immediately.

I wish Muhammad Ali were still alive so he could “sting like a bee” that mean old wasp for me.