Do Bumble Bees Have Stingers? Do They Bite Or Sting? | Kidadl


Do Bumble Bees Have Stingers? Do They Bite Or Sting?

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A bumblebee (or bumble bee) also known as the humble bee of the genus Bombus, is part of the Apidae family, and is a common native bee.

They are important pollinators in most areas of North America just like honey bees. Bumblebees are large, fuzzy insects that have short, stubby wings. This bee species is bigger than honey bees, but they don't manufacture much honey compared to honey bees.

Bumblebees are regarded as very valuable pollinators as according to the National Wildlife Federation, their wings beat 130 or more times per second. The vibration of their wings combined with their vast bodies vibrates flowers until they release pollen. This process is called buzz pollination and helps plants, without human intervention or treatment, to produce more fruits.

Bumblebees often make their nest or hive near ground surfaces. These bees make their hive in piles of wood, dead leaves, and compost piles. You may find them in hollow logs and grass tussocks and they even take shelter in deserted rodent tunnels. You can also find bumblebees in empty bird nests.

Bumblebees are social creatures compared to other bee species in the animal kingdom. Their groups are called colonies. Their territories are ruled by a prominent female called a queen, and other bees present in the colony serve her, assemble foods, and take care of developing larvae.

During winter, except for the queen, the entire colony of worker bees perishes. The queen hibernates underground during winter and starts building a new colony in spring. After waking up from hibernation, the queen, who is the mother of all bees in the colony, finds food and a good location for building her nest. After she finds a good location for her nest, she then lays eggs, sits on them for about two weeks, and stores food for herself and her babies in the hive until each egg hatches.

The queen will only care for the first lot of babies, which after becoming adult bees, turn into worker bees that clean and guard the hive, gather foods, and take care of the next batch of infant bees. The queen then has nothing much to do but lay and hatch new eggs.

Male bees are mostly born in late summer and are called drones. The future queen and drones leave their nest as soon as they mature. Male bees will die after copulating with a future queen.

Bumblebees can be dangerous insects whose sting can lead to a serious allergic reaction in some humans.

After you have read more about the bumblebee and its comparison with honey bees, why not find out the answers to do bees have lungs and do bees hibernate?

What kind of bees do not have stingers?

Bumblebees do sting and their venom is extremely potent but not all bees do not have stingers. The stinger or stings is a modified egg-laying device. These stingers are only present in female bees and not male bees. However, despite having a stinger, many bees can not sting. Bumblebees will not sting unless they feel threatened or aggravated in some way to protect their hive. Here are some bees that do not have stingers:

Stingless bees: Stingless bees are tiny and fragile, and do not possess a bee sting. Although stingless bees cannot sting, some of these species have blister-causing secretions in their jaws, which they can emit upon attackers. Stingless bees are honey-producing bees and are considered to be a significant ecological resource.

Male bees: Male bees do not have stingers whether they belong to any species of bees including honey bees, or any other species. Bee stingers are designed to lay eggs which can only be done by female bees. Male bees are not equipped with this organ, making them unable to sting. The only role of the male or drone is to mate with the queen.

Unlike female bumblebees, such as queens and the worker bees, male bumblebees or drones do not sting. There are no barbs present in the bumblebee sting, which allows a bumblebee to sting multiple times and leads to pain and swelling in blood vessels.

Honey bee stings are very painful and life-threatening to people allergic to honey bee venom. Honey bees usually sting multiple times to defend themselves or their colony. The stinger of honey bees is barbed and is located at the edge of its abdomen. The sting is attached to the digestive tract of the honey bee, where they have a venom sac that makes the venom. A honey bee won't sting unless it feels threatened. If a honey bee is attacked, it will sting and its venom sac, stinger, and other parts of the bee’s body will be pushed out and left behind, which kills the bee. If the honey bee sting is not removed quickly, the symptoms of allergic reactions gradually increase as the venom sac continues to inject venom into the wound. While stinging, the honey bee releases an alarm pheromone that alerts the other bees in the colony. The other bees come together to defend their colony after getting notified. Medical treatment for the allergic reactions from a bumblebee sting must be sought from a local doctor near you.

Common Eastern Bumble Bee on flower

What happens after bumblebee stings?

When a bumblebee stings, the venom present in the stinger is made of elements that have a direct effect on blood vessels in the skin. Usually, symptoms of bee stings are mild and include redness, serious itching, and painful swelling. Sometimes, the swelling is severe and might take several days to go away. If a bee stings someone in the mouth or on the throat it can cause severe swelling, leading to suffocation.

If you get stung by a bumblebee continuously it can cause an allergic reaction which will worsen adversely. The symptoms include nettle rash and itching. In rare cases, the face or neck can swell up, and lead to vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, sweating, and shivers. Individuals are likely to be allergic to stings of both honey bees as well as bumblebees. Medical treatment for allergic reactions to bumblebee sting must be sought from a local doctor near your home.

How To Prevent Bumblebee Stings

Though the bumblebee is a peaceful creature, provoking one is not a good idea. They get aggressive when they are threatened and these increasingly rare animals defend themselves and their colony by stinging the attackers with their stinger. There are things you can do to prevent yourself from bumblebee stings.

Avoid being aggressive around bumblebees, do not disturb them, and do not attack a bumblebee flying around. Manage bumblebee hives properly if you own any and never hit on their hives intentionally.

Bumblebees are enticed by the color blue and light blue clothing. Make sure to wear protective cloth, when beekeeping reducing the risk of stings as bumblebees can sting through clothing.

Remain calm since bumblebees are not very aggressive. Do not shake your arms vigorously, whack at the bumblebees or accidentally shove or hit into their nest. Instead, move slowly and carefully and flee from the location where you see bumblebees. Seek medical treatment from a local doctor near you if you get stung to avoid serious medical complications later on.

If by mistake, you have hit a bumblebee and it is trying to sting you, brush it off your body, do not kill it, and quickly run away from the area. If possible, cover yourself with a cloak or at least protect your head.

Contact a pest management professional for advice and assistance to help control bumblebees and other stinging insects if you are afraid of stinging bees.

Bee Stings And Allergies

Bees are crucially important for the pollination of flowering plants and crops. Bumblebees and honeybees are important pollinators in agricultural and horticultural crops as they carry pollen on their bodies from one plant to another. The pollen gets caught on their legs and in their fluffy bodies and when a bee flies to another plant, the pollen is deposited.

Allergic reactions can be classified into four levels:

Level 1 includes itching, redness, hives, and swelling over the whole body. Level 2 is defined by intestinal problems including vomiting, diarrhea, etc., and can include the symptoms of level 1. At Level 3 someone might experience difficulties in breathing or a feeling of suffocation, as well as the symptoms of level 1 and level 2. Level 4 includes serious symptoms like excessive sweating, shivering, dizziness, and all of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Treating A Bee Sting

The possibility of being stung by a bumblebee can be diminished by avoiding provoking them or making them aggressive.

If you are stung, remove the stinger from the skin as soon as possible; you can scrape it off with a fingernail. If the stinger has gone below the skin surface, don't try to remove it as it may not be present. Except for bees, no other stinging insects leave their stingers.

Thoroughly wash the stung area with soap and cold water and then apply a cold compress as it may help in reducing swells. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed and elevate your arms or legs if you are stung there.

Apply anti-allergic lotion or anti-inflammatory cream to ease redness, itching, or swelling. Avoid scratching the sting area else it will worsen the itching and swelling and may increase the risk of infection.

Consulting a doctor is recommended in the case of a severe allergic reaction to bumblebee stings because the allergic reaction to bumblebee stings worsens with each subsequent sting.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for do bumblebees have stingers then why not take a look at do all bees make honey, or bumble bee facts.

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