Ever walk around your yard, pass a few bees, freak out and run the other way? You do not have to worry about that as much with honey bees. The only time I have dealt with bee stings from honey bees was after being in a hive to too long and my girls started to feel threatened by me. Bees will send out a pheromone letting their sisters know they need to defend themselves. This is where Hollywood comes in and turns bee swarms into an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
I have had multiple bees land on me while out and about in my yard and my girls were just curious. They realized I was not a flower and took off. I will take the compliment though 😉 If you want to see something cool google videos of people putting honey on themselves and letting the honey bees eat it off.
A Honey Bees can Only Sting You Once
Unlike wasps, and bumble bees, domestic honeybees can only sting you once! If you were to take a close look at the stinger of a bumble bee or wasp you would see that it looks more like a needle and that a honey bee’s stinger looks more like a serrated knife. The serrated part of the stinger allows the stinger to stay lodged in its victim’s skin longer. This allows venom to continue being pumped into its victim. This unfortunately causes the honey bee to die. When a honey bee stings you then flies off it also pulls out some of her innards. She makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her sisters and queen!
The queen bee, head honcho of her hive, Her stinger is unlike her daughters, and more like a wasp’s stinger. Sleek and straight giving her the ability to sting her prey as many times as she wishes! BUT the focus of her stinger is not to go after the giants that are after her honey. Nope, its to kill other queens!
When a queen is absent from her hive due to a swarm leaving half of the hive in its original home or if we clumsy giants kill her by accident the worker bees create multiple queen cells to create a new queen, in place of the previous queen. So what happens when the first queen breaks free from her cell? If the worker bees accept her, she goes from queen cell to queen cell and kills the other queens before they can hatch. She will do this by stinging (more like stabbing) the other queens to death. The life of a queen is not as glamorous as we thought!
Male Bees (Drones)
Lets focus for a moment on what wont sting you….drones or male bees. They have no stingers! No, really, they do not have stingers, only the worker bees and their queen have stingers. The stinger is also called an ovipositor. The ovipositor allows certain insects such as female bees to lay eggs and doubles as a defense mechanism. My theory on why male bees do not have stingers is due to the fact that they do not need to defend anything nor do they lay anything, so having a stinger would be useless. I do not want to go too deep into this because I want to cover it a little more in another article but male bees only have three functions in life and that is to eat, mate with the queen and die almost immediately after. What a way to live and die!
So when out an about do not kill the honey bee while she is doing her job collecting pollen and nectar for her family. I would not want someone to do that to me just because I’m 5’11” and look intimidating at times. Nope! Let bees do bee things. Remember 1 out of every 3 bites of food you take is thanks to a bee!
Please note I am not an expert bee keeper! I have been doing this for a year and a half and do not know everything. I can give you information from my own experience. For the most part, I rely on some pretty brilliant bee keepers from my local bee club and use them as a resource. If you have questions and I do not know the answers I will contact at least one of those brilliant minds and ask them. And always remember the 1-10-12 rule. Ask 1 question to 10 bee keepers and you will get 12 different answers!
Always make sure you are not allergic to bees before going out to a hive, or messing with any short of insect that can cause you to go into anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is nothing to play around with!