Monday, August 19, 2013

Bees vs. Wasps, and Stingers

Abe's drawing

Thanks to several books and websites, we now finally know the difference between a bee and wasp. Hooray! The children drew pictures showing the distinctions between them.

I was pretty impressed with Daisy's!

Malachi's drawing

Sebby's drawing

This was a little demonstration just showing how bee stingers and wasp stingers (and queen bee stingers) differ from each other. Worker bee stingers are barbed, kind of like the screw at left above. Queen bees and wasps have smooth stingers, more like the nail.

To show how the two stingers act in different materials, we poked them into cardboard and stryofoam. The barbed stinger and the smooth stinger both pull out pretty easily from cardboard (though the barbed one leaves a bigger hole). The cardboard is like another insect's exoskeleton. Thus, worker bees, queen bees, and wasps can all sting other insects without harm to themselves. 

The stryofoam is like the softer flesh of a mammal. When the smooth stinger pokes into a mammal's flesh, it can pull out again. But when the barbed stinger enters a mammal, it sticks inside and the barbs keep it in place. Thus, when the bee flies away after stinging a mammal, the stinger rips from her body, eventually killing her.

Here is a nice picture of a bee's stinger.


  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comparison pictures, what deep and authentic learning that shows. Would you mind if I 'shared' your barbed vs smooth stinger demonstration? i can think of a simpler and more effective demo.

    1. Wow, thanks! You're welcome to use any ideas you want. Good luck! :)


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