What it looks like may not be what it is…

I posted this photo on instagram/facebook/twitter a few days ago. This little (1/2″) beast stung me as I was working on my computer. It had gotten into the house, landed on Lorna’s hand, she flung it off and it found me. Ouch. And then OUCH. The pain got worse, not better.

So, this bug stung me. I hit it with my shoe as it was struggling at my studio window and then I took this photo. Steve walked by and I asked him what it was. He said: ‘Bee, probably some local sort of bee.’ I called it a bee on instagram/facebook/twitter.

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Every comment said that no, that is a wasp. Or a hornet. Definitely not a bee. So I looked at photos online and told my darling husband that I doubted his assessment.

What you may not know is that Steve is a field biologist and has been for a very long time. He works with beetles, but he’s good when it comes to other creatures. He said he would take it to his office and ‘key it out’. (If you want to know what that means, let me know. I’ll ask Steve for more details. I suspect microscopes and books were involved because that is what he does.) Here’s what he found:

The solitary bee subfamily Oxaeinae includes many species that are primarily found in the new-world tropics, but with a few species in the southwestern US, including Texas. This subfamily was fairly recently included in the larger solitary bee family Andrenidae – it was formerly considered its own family, the Oxaeidae. Female Oxaeinines collect pollen and nectar, and use it to provision in brood cells in deep burrows. The solitary bees are important pollinators, especially in the southwest.

Folks, it doesn’t matter that it looks like a wasp, it’s a bee.

This brings me to the larger point of this post: The older I get, the more I realize that things are not always what they seem. Common sense is only worthwhile if it’s correct. There are so very many things that, once objective data are collected, it turns out that what looks right, just isn’t.

I view all of this as a good thing. I am reminded (yet again) that it pays to be open-minded, to listen to those who know more than I do, and to learn something new rather than to just assume that I am always right. I should add that I am wrong so often that this is not a foreign concept for me :-).

I should also add that I enjoyed the comments that were posted. It made me go back and look at the photo, and look at bee/wasp pictures online, which then made me doubt Steve. This was good for me! I tend to be too trusting which isn’t good. I wish I could always be correct, don’t you? But then I’d be insufferable, which is bad. I guess I’ll embrace being only sometimes right :-).