We are all aware that honey bees are important for the world’s ecosystem. Experts have determined that 1 in 3 bites of food is possible thanks solely to bee pollination of crops. It is easy to see that honey bees provide many benefits. But are there dangerous? Do honey bees sting?
Yes, honey bees do sting. While it is rare that a honey bee will sting you unless provoked, they will defend themselves and their hives by stinging predators. Only female worker honey bees and the queen honey bee have stingers.
It is important to respect honey bees and give them their space as they are colony insects and will defend their hives to the death! It’s also worth noting that not all bees will sting. It is only female honey bees that sting.
Do Honey Bees Die After Stinging?
Honey bees are a unique type of bee. Unlike carpenter bees and bumble bees who have stingers that are pointy and sharp which allow for multiple stings, the stinger of honey bees has a barb at the end that gets lodged in the victim’s flesh.
Due to the barb, the honey bee stinger remains in the skin of the victim as the honey bee tries to fly away. The stinger is attached to a venom sac within the abdomen of the honey bee.
When the honey bee flies away, the stinger lodged in the skin pulls the venom sac and digestive tract from the abdomen of the honey bees, killing it.
Carpenter bees and bumble bees do not die after stinging. The stinger of these types of bees is not barbed, allowing for clean removal from the victim’s flesh. The barb is an evolutionary defence method for the honey bees to increase the pain and effect of the venom of the sting.
This will hopefully deter the predator from continuing to approach the hive. The venom also contains pheromones that call out to other bees in the hive to come and aid in the defence.
It is a common misconception that bees, as a collective group, will die when they sting you. But it is, in fact, only honey bees that have developed this barbed stinger.
Do Honey Bee Stings Hurt?
Honey bee stings are some of the more painful stings of all the bees. This is due to the barbed end of the honey bee stinger. This small, yet effective, evolutionary curve allows the stinger to embed into the flesh of the victim.
Other types of bees do not have the barbed end, allowing for the stinger to be removed by the bee itself after the sting and fly away.
The barb of the honey bee lodges the stinger into the victim and as the bee flies away, it will rip the stinger from the bee, taking the bee’s venom sac and part of the digestive tract. This kills the honey bees.
A common theory of why the honey bees have this type of stinger is because they are colony living insects. The female worker bees sting to protect the hive.
The barb creates an even more painful experience for the victim of the sting. The stinger remains lodged in the skin until it is removed. While the stinger is embedded in the skin, it is releasing more and more venom into the victim.
The venom serves both as a painful burn for the victim as well as a call to other honey bees to come and help defend the nest.
Not all honey bees sting, only female honey bees have a stinger so can sting to protect their hive. Male bees do not have a stinger.
There’s a reason that bee keeps where those suits! Bee keepers do what they can to keep honey bees calm to avoid them stinging. Bee keeps do get stung but it is not as common as you might think.
Why Would a Honey Bee Sting You?
Honey bees are actually docile insects. Honey bees die when they sting because their stinger is attached to a venom sac inside their digestive system. When a honey bee stings its attacker or perceived threat, the barbed end of the stinger gets lodged into the flesh of the victim.
When the bee tries to fly away, the stinger stays inside the skin of the victim and the stinger will rip from the abdomen of the honey bee. During this interaction, the stinger will pull out the digestive tract of the honey bee, killing it.
Due to certain death, honey bees sting as a last defence to protect their hive. Honey bees live in a group and are very protective of their colony. Only the female worker bees and the queen bee have the ability to sting, so if you are stung by a honey bee, it is most likely a female worker bee.
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The reason only female honey bees sting is that the stinger is actually a part of the reproductive system of the bees. Only the queen honey bee lays eggs, but the other female worker bees still have this evolutionary function for protection and defence.
A honey bee may sting you if you are perceived by the bees as a threat to the hive. Getting too close to or knocking a hive would most likely provoke an attack from the worker bees.
Most stings happen by accident, as most people do not go around provoking honey bees on purpose. If you step on a honey bee or try to handle or touch the bee, the bee will most likely try to sting you.
Yes, honey bees do sting. To avoid being stung, it is best to leave the bees their space, do not try to handle them, and never try to get rid of a beehive on your own. Call a local beekeeper to help safely remove and relocate the bees to a proper and safe environment for everyone.
Did you also know that honeybees can bite! If you didn’t, then give this a read.