Surprising Bee Facts: Most Bees Do Not Die After Stinging

Surprising Bee Facts: Most Bees Do Not Die After Stinging

Did you know that most bee species don’t die when they sting? Out of the nearly 21,000 bee species in the world, only eight die after stinging. Some bees can’t sting at all, while others can sting as much as they want. The reason why some bees die after stinging is because of their barbed stingers. These barbs prevent the bee from pulling out its stinger, leaving it embedded in the skin and causing more venom to be pumped into the wound.

The European honey bee is one of the species that dies after stinging. These bees are found all over the world and are responsible for 0.04% of total bee species. They have barbed stingers that cause them to die after stinging. In fact, European honey bees are Australia’s deadliest venomous animals, causing 12 out of 19 deaths due to venomous animals in 2017-18.

Stingers in bees, wasps, and ants are actually tubes for laying eggs that have been adapted for defense. This group of stinging insects, known as aculeate wasps, have been using their stingers for self-defense for 190 million years. Bees have evolved different stinging strategies, with the European honey bee having one of the most painful stings.

Interestingly, many bee species have lost their ability to sting entirely. There are 537 species of “stingless bees” globally, which make up about 2.6% of all bee species. Australia has 11 species of stingless bees that can still defend their nests by biting.

Male bees do not have stingers and instead have different anatomy. Some male bees may still mimic a sting if provoked. Male wasps can also cause damage without venom.

The reason why the European honey bee is often associated with stinging is because they are abundant and social. They have large colonies and can fly long distances to forage. They are also willing to die to protect their colony members. In contrast, most bees and wasps are solitary and lack the aggressive nature of their social relatives.

While European honey bees have a complicated relationship with humans, being deadly and non-native in many areas, they are crucial for crop pollination and their honey is highly valued. However, it’s important to remember that they are just a small minority among the thousands of native bee species that are more likely to fly away than sting.