Bee Sting Facts vs Fiction:
'Could a bee sting be fatal?'
'Could I be stung to death?'
'Do all bees die when they sting you?'
'What is ‘anaphylaxis'?'.
'Do all bees sting?'.
'Are bees dangerous?'.
There are many assumptions about bee stings, many of which are wrong! So what are the facts about bee stings?
Read these quick and interesting facts about bee stings to learn more:
Not all bees can sting!
Male bees cannot. There is also a large group of bees known as stingless bees. In any event, bees are not out to attack anyone for the sake of it. A sting is a defensive reaction to a perceived threat.
Hence, bees will only sting if they are provoked or feel threatened. Bees are generally non-aggressive. How many times did you fall over as a kid, bump your head, cut yourself, get hit in a play ground squabble – I bet it was more often than you were stung by a bee! Think of walking through a garden or public park full of flowers. The bees go about their business, and are largely unnoticed.
A sting from a bumblebee is unfortunate rather than common.
Bumblebees and solitary bees are usually very docile, and stinging is rare for most species.
Honey bees could sting if aggravated. Swarming honey bees are 'drunk' on the honey they have consumed prior to swarming, and are only a problem if they are aggravated/provoked, or if they are having difficulty locating a suitable nest site, meaning they are becoming hungry.
Of course, if you're a beekeeper, your chances of
being stung are obviously increased!
If you are concerned, there are actions you can take to prevent bee stings.
Getting statistics can be difficult, but in 2000, the World Health Organisation reported that in the USA, .....
there were only 54 deaths attributable to bee stings – from a population of 281 million people (Census data).
I wanted to provide this information merely as an antidote to the
reports you may hear that seem to give the impression bees are a serious dangerous
and pose a threat to humans.
So why are fatalities from bee stings so rare? Well, unless a person has a bee sting allergy, the average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight.
The average adult can withstand more than 1000 stings, although 500 stings could kill a child.
(Source: The Merck Manual of Diagnosis & Therapy).
A bee stinger contains different toxins - or bee venom - to that of a wasp. Thus, a person who has an allergy to wasp stings may not suffer from a bee sting allergy! You can find out more about reactions here.
Honey bee worker (females) will die if they sting you. This is because
honey bee workers have barbed stings, causing the stinger to get lodged in the
skin of mammals (including humans). This is fatal to the honey bee when
they try to pull away from the victim, and the bee will die after the
stinging incident. However, honey bees can sting insect predators repeatedly. Male honey bees (drones) cannot sting.
Bumblebees have a smooth stinger, and are able to sting repeatedly, but bumblebees are rarely aggressive.
The sting is actually a modified ovipositor, and can be used for laying eggs. Worker honey bees may lay eggs if a hive or nest becomes queenless.
Bumblebee workers may lay eggs when the queen begins to lay (unfertilized) eggs destined to develop into males. This usually results in conflict within the colony between the workers and the queen bumblebee. Writings vary, but it is proposed that when the queen ceases to produce a pheromone (believed) to control the egg laying ability of her workers, (who may otherwise lay eggs – all of which would develop into males.
Onions, toothpaste and lemons are all believed to relieve stings! Find out about more home remedies and natural treatments.
You could also try a repellent to avoid being stung in the first place:
In the event that you are stung, you might like to try a Venom Extractor Kit - this is obviously something you would need to have in your first aid kit as a precaution, and in advance of the stinging event occurring.
Fear of bee stings can sometimes result in people developing a fear of bees, which is known as apiphobia.
It is a fact that an extreme reaction to bee stings can include anaphylaxis, which is a state of shock, but this is rare.
Indeed, whilst some people may have a reaction to a sting, relatively few people have a very severe allergy to stings from bees. However, if they do and are aware of it, they may carry with them an ‘Epipen’ with which to treat the sting. Learn more about treating stings on this link, and read about reactions here.
Some propose that bee stings or apitherapy, can reduce arthritis symptoms. I have not seen any evidence to support or refute this claim (if you are aware of any, please let me know!).
Learn more facts about stings....here is an amazing book, in which one man set out to do just that, and in doing so, allowed himself to be stung by different insects! The author, Justin O. Schmidt was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for physiology and entomology in 2015:
It really is time, I think, to challenge the view that we should "kill something just in case". Surely we have evolved beyond that? Even wasps are valuable insects in their own right, performing an important role in the eco-system. There are ways to deter wasps and prevent bee stings for those who really are concerned.
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