DO BEES STING: AVOIDING THE FEARFUL MYTH
Many of us remember a time in our lives when we have encountered a black, white, and or yellow fuzzy-winged humming or buzzing insect around us or on the ground, either immobile or other, and a painful sting because we either fearfully swatted, evaded, hit, kicked, or touched, picked them up (on a dare or not-), and more. We do remember our first sting, and many more to follow, and know that stings are associated with anything buzzing and yellow/black in color because of our experiential trauma and unforgotten pain.
Growing up, most of us have believed that bees or anything resembling them are likely out to sting us all. Our assumptions on this is an understandable fault, however, it is time to educate ourselves of this falsely fearful myth, for it does more harm to the bees, those that resemble bees, the environment, and us. NO, ALL BEES DO NOT STING.
Solitary and group bees only do this when encountering an aggravated threat to their nest/hive, which is saying that they are defending themselves. Imagine a large giant trying to pick up, swat, or handle our humming along winged selves, and we are just being ourselves, minding our own business, buzzing along like bees, the first thing we are going to do, is to defend ourselves with our handy stingers.
Try to place yourself in the bee’s shoes, even though they don’t wear them.
Besides hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, we are going to focus on the bees: bumblebees, honey bees, solitary bees, carpenter bees, and stingless bees, and learn what the stinger is for?
Stingers on any of the mentioned above are actually ovipositors, which is an egg-laying tube-like organ from a female. She transmits an egg from the “stinger-like” ovipositor to an empty cell (honey and pollen storage, and larvae development area in hive) or pollen ball (cell when a deposit was made, and yet no laid egg). Female honeybees and bumblebees do sting when threatened.
Male bumblebees, honey bees (& drones), and carpenter bees, as well as certain species of tropical stingless bees (some have a small modified ovipositor) do not sting, however they will defend their nest/hive when necessary. They may come investigate those that are too close or possibly a threat to their home, and this may be intimidating.
Out of many solitary bee species, some do have stingers, and sting as a form of defense; however, that is rare. There are a few safeguards when out and about, sharing our world with many of these stinging/non-stinging bee species. Whenever there are flowers on the ground, where we step on, such as clovers, dandelions, or flower-covered lawns, it is recommended to not walk bare feet over them, for there sure are foraging bees, and one can easily step on them and get stung. With honeybees, the swarm (a huge bunch of bees leaving the old hive, to follow the queen bee, to a new home) occurs in late spring—when seeing this phenomenon, it is best to stay far from them and not bother them. The same thing applies to seeing a hive (above ground or below).
Honeybee stings can be carefully and immediately tended to with care, with either a flat credit card or object pushing it away, across the stinger, with the venom intact. Afterward, wash with soap and water.
Female bees sting, whereas most male bees do not (and yet, will be in your face, defending themselves and home). There are preventatives to remember. Yet, we all can learn how to be kind to the many bee species by being bee aware, giving them space, leaving them alone, and educated.