Do bees sting or bite?

Bees, like ants, wasps, and other groups of insects, are grouped in the order Hymenoptera. There are more than 20,000 species of bees with a wide global distribution, many of which are essential for the pollination of plants, since, in fact, this role is vital for the life of many species, including humans. Bees, although they are similar to wasps in some features, differ from them, among other aspects, because most feed their larvae with pollen or honey and have setae, which are species of branched hairs on which the bee usually attaches. pollen.

Do bees sting or bite?

Does the bee sting or bite?

Depending on the type, bees can sting or bite . In Hymenoptera, the mouthparts are usually very well developed and serve both for chewing and for licking or sucking. In the case of the bees of the apid group, which includes various types of bees such as honey bees, there is an elongation of what would be the tongue (proboscis), a structure known as «gloss», in addition to a modification of the labial palps, which change to a kind of case that protects the gloss.

An interesting aspect in bees is that their mouthparts, and also the body parts for collecting and transporting pollen, are adapted to different types of flowering plants. In this way, we then have that the buccal apparatus of bees is adapted both for chewing, because they have strong jaws, and for sucking thanks to the elongated proboscis they possess. Thus, we have that some species of bees , for example, of the genus Trigona , use the bite as a method of defense .

What bees sting?

We have already seen that bees bite to defend themselves in some cases, but do they sting? The truth is that only some species of bees sting and they are those that are provided with a sting , which comes from the modification of the last segments of the abdomen. Therefore, there are stingless bees that cannot sting, such as honey bees. Likewise, we found that some types of bees have stingers so small that they cannot use them to sting.

Within the bees that sting we find a curious fact: only some females have a sting . The males have a less active role within the bees, so they live less time, do not collect pollen, do not offer any care to the larvae and do not participate in the construction of the nests; all this work is done by females. Also, no male can sting , whatever the species, because they do not have stingers, just like wasps.

Do bees sting or bite? - Does the bee sting or bite?

Why do bees sting?

Bees sting for one fundamental reason: to defend themselves . In this sense, we must keep in mind that bees do not attack senselessly, when they do it is because they are being disturbed by another animal or a person. They can also bite because we have gotten too close to their nest and they feel that their larvae or food reserves, such as pollen or honey, are in danger, so they become alert and attack defensively.

In this way, it is important to be alert if we see a nest or hive of bees and not approach it, unless we are with an expert person who knows how to behave and handle bees, since, in fact, there are very experienced experts at the regard.

Do bees sting or bite? - Why do bees sting?

Do bees sting and die?

Some species of bees sting and die , and this is because the sting sticks like a hook and has some kind of barbs that get caught in the skin, so they lose it. Because this stinging organ is connected to the venom glands and these, in turn, connect to the intestine of the bee, since the stinger cannot be removed, this part of the body detaches due to the force exerted. Although the bee manages to fly away, after a while it will die due to the loss of this vital portion of its body, which is left uncovered and losing fluids.

But not all bees die when stinging. The group known as » bumblebees «, due to their larger sizes and thicker bodies, can sting repeatedly without losing their sting because they do not have the barbs that leave them hooked on the victim. 

What to do if you get stung by a bee?

A bee sting can be an uneventful episode or an urgent medical care situation. This varies depending on the number of stinging bees and the allergic sensitivity of the affected person. In the case of an allergic person, it is best to visit a health center immediately to assess the situation and administer some medication if necessary.

In case you have only been stung by a bee and you do not have allergic reactions to its sting, you can apply these measures:

  1. Remove the stinger with a sterile forceps .
  2. Wash the area with soap and water .
  3. Avoid scratching or pinching the bite area .
  4. Use an anti-inflammatory and analgesic cream .
  5. Apply cold water compresses .

Bee stings can be very dangerous in certain cases because these insects become aggressive if they feel threatened, so they do not hesitate to attack. If they are in a hive or honeycomb, they can attack in a group, so we suggest you be very careful with them. In addition, we remember that they are very important for ecosystems and are in danger of extinction due to various human actions.

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