I got in the shower the other day and felt a sharp pain on my leg. A wasp was apparently trying to find a winter home in my shower. I would have immediately taken care of the sting (I did take care of the wasp) but I have a memory block every time I have to deal with a sting. Are bee stings acid — treat with baking soda? Or are they alkaline — treat with vinegar…or is that wasps? I have to look it up every time. Since it’s that time of year when wasps are cranky, I thought it would be worthwhile to check it out. Again. However, when I checked online (instead of my usual book) I was dismayed to find that it doesn’t even matter.
While it’s true that bee venom contains formic acid and wasp stings are alkali, there are other active ingredients in their venoms that contribute to the pain. Furthermore, the sting experts add, neutralizing a sting with either vinegar or soda is unlikely to be effective because the venom from wasp and bee stings is injected into the skin and spreads deep into the tissues. Applying an acid or base to the surface of the skin will not reach the venom under the skin to neutralize it. Bummer.
Honeybee and bumblebee on a coneflower
Wasps make their nests by chewing up wood and mixing the pulp with saliva to make a nest out of “paper.” Hornets’ nests are found hanging from the side of a building, under eaves or decks, or from tree branches. Although some yellow jackets hang their nest, most of them build their nests under ground, in hollow trees or in a hole in a building’s structure.