Part II Be alert to the spring and summer insect stinger visitors including know why they sting!

bumble bees2 bumble bees Bumble Bees

honey beesHoney Bee

solitarybees1solitarybees2 Solitary Bees

 

 

2.)Types of Bees

A.) Honeybees

Honey bees have been around longer than humans; there is fossil evidence from 150 million years ago! Honeybees are highly social insects. Honeybees can contain up to 60,000 bees in its colony at its peak. Honeybees can fly up to 15 miles an hour. Worker bees are sexually undeveloped females. They build hives, forage for pollen and nectar for food and circulate air within the hive by beating their wings, among other tasks. The queen’s main job is to lay eggs, though she also directs activity within the hive. Male bees are called drones. In winter months when the hive needs to conserve resources, drones are expelled. Honeybees can only sting once, causing the bee to die, as the stinger and the venom sack get stuck in the victim’s flesh after use.

Many people are afraid of bees because they think they will be stung by them, but bees are far more interested in going about their business foraging for pollen and nectar than they are in ‘stinging’ human beings. It actually takes a lot to provoke a bee to sting you – and many of our UK bees don’t sting at all.

Honeybees……. will sting if defending their honey stores or their queen, or if they think you are threatening their life by standing or sitting on them.  Honeybees have a barb at the end of their sting which remains under your skin after they have stung.  When a honey bee stings a person, it cannot pull the barbed stinger back out. It leaves behind not only the stinger, but also part of its abdomen and digestive tract, plus muscles and nerves. Honey bees, including killer bees, have barbed stingers that tear off when they try to fly away after stinging, so these bees die after the sting and thus can sting only one time. In this case the stinger and venom sac typically remain embedded in the skin of the victim.This massive abdominal rupture kills the honey bee. Honey bees are the one of the few species of bees to die after stinging. They usually die right after they have stung.  It is worth noting that honeybees have a somewhat variable temperament, from extremely docile to quite tetchy. This is down to genetics: certain crosses can be hard to handle, even by experienced beekeepers. The good news is that honeybees almost never sting anyone who is not close to their nest/hive, so don’t worry about being stung whilst gardening or walking through a field. You are less likely to be stung whilst honeybees are swarming than at any other time.  Male honeybees have no sting If you have reason to think you may be allergic to bee venom, you should carry an Epipen (A PREPARED EPINEPHRINE DOSE WITH A NEEDLE to prevent anaphylactic reaction.)

B.) Bumblebees Like their relatives the honey bees, bumblebees feed on nectar, using the long hairy tongue (proboscis) to lap up the liquid; the proboscis is folded under the head for flight. Bumblebees gather pollen to feed their young

They will only sting if their nest is threatened or if you squeeze them, sit on them or stand on them. They are not naturally aggressive and it takes a lot to provoke them. If they feel threatened by you they will ‘tell’ you. They do this by raising one of their middle legs in the air. When you move away they will put their leg back down again – but if you go closer (and if they are unhappy about this) they will lift another leg in the air. If you go closer still – they will lift two legs up vertically in the air or turn on their back and show you their sting! This is called ‘posturing’ but very rarely leads to them actually stinging you.  If bumblebees DO ever sting, their sting has no barb like the honeybee, so they will not die afterwards 🙂 Male bumblebees do not have a sting.  You can identify the males of some species quite easily by their pale yellow facial hair and little yellow moustaches. Also, male bumblebees are in less hurry than the females when foraging and have thin hairy legs (females have a wide shiny, smooth top corbicula on their back legs and are often carrying pollen)

C.) Solitary bees

There are over 230 species of solitary bee in the UK and it is VERY rare for anyone to be stung by one of these bees. As solitary bees have no honey stores to protect, there is no reason for nature to have provided them with a good defence weapon like the honeybee. The females are equipped with tiny stings but rarely, if ever, do they use them. You would have to be squashing them to provoke them to sting – and even then, the sting is so insignificant that it cannot pierce human skin. There are just one or two exceptions. Although the effect is not as severe as a honeybee sting, our tiniest species of ground nesting solitary bee, Lasioglossum and Halictus, both have fully functioning stings capable of penetrating human skin.  None of the male solitary bees have stingers.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *