I held the bee and [...] against my arm, to see whether it would sting me.
I can't think of any suitable word. And the Thesaurus only has synonyms that mean pressing harder.
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Are you looking for the word 'brush'? In the sentence you had given, the blanks would be filled in with [brushed it].
I held the bee to my arm to see whether it would sting me.
I pressed the bee gently against my bare arm to see whether it would sting me.
I think each of the following signifies a gentle approach.
"... and set it upon my arm"
Set: to place with care or deliberate purpose and with relative stability.
"...and touched it to my arm"
Touch: to bring a bodily part into contact with especially so as to perceive through the tactile sense : handle or feel gently usually with the intent to understand or appreciate.
"...and neared it to my arm"
Near: to come closer in space or time to someone or something.
"... and placed it upon my arm"
Place: to direct to a desired spot.
A close and affectionate (and often prolonged) embrace
Touch or stroke lightly in a loving or endearing manner
How about tap
"to hit somebody/something quickly and lightly"
He kept tapping his fingers on the table.
'Apply' means pressing just enough to put in contact, and your example will be:
I held the bee and applied it to my arm, to see whether it would sting me.
Usually, they apply remedies, like ice to a bruise. With the bee, the verb looks as weird as the action itself.
Apply on The Free Dictionary:
ap·ply (ə-plī′) v. ap·plied, ap·ply·ing, ap·plies v.tr.
- To bring into contact with something; put on: applied glue sparingly to the paper.
Don't press, just apply gently for just the time it takes to achieve a smooth round shape. Don't overdo it!
The animals should be applied in adequate numbers to the general area of maximal congestion. The head (or biting end) of the animal can be recognised by its searching movements, while the tail end is used mostly as a sucker for fixation. It is best to use the hungriest (normally the smallest) leeches first. Preferably do not use forceps forcibly on the leech.