Understanding The Differences Between Bees And Wasps

Many people are afraid of getting stung by a bee. This fear has given bees a bad rap. Wasps are more likely to sting people, however. This article will breakdown the main differences between bees and wasps, as well as tell you how to find out if you are allergic to their venom.

Bees vs. Wasps: Aggression

Bees do sting, but they are not as aggressive as their cousins, the wasps. There are two common types of bees you will encounter: honeybees and bumblebees. You might find a bumblebee in your garden searching out nectar. They are not aggressive. They are not likely to attack and sting unless you get up close and try to manhandle them. Honeybees are also not aggressive. Some beekeepers don't even wear protective gloves while handling their bees.

Wasps are aggressive. The two most common types are hornets and yellow jackets. Some people confuse yellow jackets for bees. They have a similar yellow design as the bumblebee. However, unlike the docile bumblebee, yellow jackets will attack. They are very territorial.

Bees vs. Wasps: Habitat

Bumblebees nest underground. Honeybees will build large, above-ground hives, often in trees. Beehives are made of the bee's waxy saliva.

Yellow jackets nest underneath the ground. Hornets tend to nest above ground. Wasps chew up wood and then use the pulp to build their nests. They will build their above-ground nest on the side of a house or in a tree. The easiest way to tell the difference between a honeybee beehive and a hornet's nest is that the hornet's nest will be gray.

Bees vs. Wasp: Venom

Bee venom is more potent than wasp venom, but they only sting once. Once they sting, their stinger remains stuck in the person's arm. Wasps, on the other hand, have less potent venom, but they can sting you multiple times. They retain their stinger.

The two creatures' venoms are chemically different, yet they produce the same results in your body. They release histamines, which can produce a deadly reaction in people who have a severe allergy.

A normal person will not be injured; however, someone who is severely allergic to venom can go into anaphylactic shock if they are stung. This can lead to a closure of the breathing airways and death.

Bee vs. Wasp: Determining Sensitivity and Precautions

There are two ways to determine if you have a serious allergy to bee or wasp stings. The first is a skin test. A doctor will prick your skin with needle that has a tiny amount of venom. It will not cause a severe anaphylactic reaction, but you will develop a raised bump. Sometimes multiple venoms are used because a person might not be allergic to one type of wasp or bee venom.

The second test is done using blood. Bloodwork is done on you after exposure to bee venom. The lab will measure the amount of antibodies in your blood. This will determine how bad a reaction to the venom you will have.

If you or your children are allergic to bee venom, and you are planning on going on a picnic or hike in the woods, then you must take an EpiPen. This is a device that will deliver epinephrine. This helps to prevent airways from closing. It will help prevent death from asphyxiation.

For more information about allergies, testing, and protective measures like EpiPens, check out websites like http://www.oakbrookallergists.com.