Do Bumble Bees Sting

Do bumblebees sting

When you think of bees, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably honey. Or your first thought may be running away to avoid being stung. But, the question arises, do bumble bees sting?  The role of bumblebees in nature goes beyond collecting nectar and making honey. They are highly social insects that live in colonies of up to 250 members. Being able to gather food and collect resources is critical for their survival, as it also happens with any social group. A bumblebee colony is headed by a queen, who is the only fertile female bee in the colony. She spends most of her life laying eggs for the rest of the colony. Worker bees, who are infertile females, do all the work in the hive. Foraging workers leave around at dusk and return with pollen and nectar during daylight hours. Workers feed these substances to younger bees, store food for bad weather conditions or simply fan their wings to cool down or warm up the colony if needed. We have answered common questions to ease your mind about everything bee related.

Do Bumble Bees Sting

Do bumble bees have stingers

The short answer, bumblebees do have an ability to sting, just like honey bees, yellow jackets and wasps. Only a female bumble bee can sting, but they use it solely in the defense of their colonies. The male bumblebees cannot sting because they live short lives and therefore have no reason to be defensive.

Bumblebees don’t sting. Every bumblebee or wasp has a stinger, but only female bees, ants and wasps have stingers. Male bumblebees, also called drones, don’t have stingers as they are not aggressive. However, the queens do use their stingers to fight and defend themselves. The stinger of a bee is made up of two parts: a sharp stylet and an acid sac that holds venom to paralyze a victim. When the bee attacks, the stinger pierces the skin causing instant pain and discomfort. The venom goes into the bloodstream. It may shock and paralyze a small animal but not in humans because their tissues are considerably stronger than those of smaller animals. Although after being stung by a bee, you feel initial pain for about 5 minutes and then again for about 10 seconds every time you move that area of your body during the next few hours. Normally, following this incident you will be fine with no serious complications unless there’s an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis to bee venom. This is quite rare but can be fatal if medical help is not given in time.

Do sweat bees sting?

Sweat bees are attracted to human skin, particularly the sweat on our backs. The sweat bees are also called oil or black carpenter bees, but regardless of the name they have a lot in common with honey bees. Sweat bees have yellow and black stripes; they are less than an inch long; they have hair on their bodies instead of scales, and they collect pollen on their backs. While sweat bees are not aggressive, they can sting and bite. You can prevent most problems with them by wearing long pants and sleeves when you work outdoors. Sweat bees typically won’t bite or sting unless they feel threatened. This can happen especially if they sense their hive is being threatened. However, no need to worry because in general sweat bees won’t sting humans. 

Can carpenter bees sting?

Carpenter bees are named for the fact that they bore holes into wood to build their nests. These bees can be a problem in the spring, when they make an entrance hole above or below where a previous hole was made. It’s important not to make assumptions about which end of the bees’ tunnels is the entrance. Because carpenter bees are large, you may see them buzzing around your home, particularly as a female looks for a suitable place to lay eggs. Female carpenter bees can sting, but it’s rare for them to do so unless handled or poked with tools into their burrows. To prevent carpenter bees from nesting in your home, caulk cracks and holes through which they may enter and repair any damaged wood within 5 feet of ground level. Many people dislike carpenter bees because they fear being stung or because they discover bee-made tunnels that damage their homes or furniture. 

Carpenter bees (or wood bees) are not aggressive bees, or at least the female ones aren’t, but they possess a very sting and the females will defend their nests rather than let you come close. Male carpenter bees do not have a stinger and only fight if they feel threatened. If you see one darting and buzzing around your face in an aggressive way, they’re not going to sting you, but they may get you to move away from their nest site. 

Do bumble bees have stingers

Do all bees sting?

It is a common misconception that all bees can sting. In fact, only female bees can do it. Male bees are called drones, they are unable to sting because they don’t have the stinger. The stinger of a bee is a modified egg-laying device, as male bees don’t lay eggs.

There are several varieties of bees you may notice near your home, including honey bees, bumblebees and carpenter bees. All of these bees do sting, although typically only if they feel threatened. They all have smooth stingers and are capable of stinging multiple times without dying. Fortunately, these are all relatively docile species. Unfortunately, honey bees have barbed stingers and will die when they attack hoping to protect their hives or in defense of one of the other varieties of bees. The stinger is left behind in the wound causing more venom to be pumped into your body causing further injury and pain.

Do male bees have stingers? 

As we’ve mentioned before male bees don’t have stingers. Early in their evolutionary history, female bees and wasps needed to lay their eggs inside stuff. This required extensive modification of certain structures, and males had no need for this because they don’t lay eggs. Since evolution is usually pretty economical, development tends not to waste energy on large and unwieldy structures which aren’t needed. Since males don’t have any eggs to lay, they don’t have an ovipositor, and without an ovipositor, they don’t have a stinger. They do have barbed abdomens which help them defend valuable areas from other males.

Do bumble bees have stingers

Treating a bee sting

Bee stings can be annoying, painful and sometimes cause allergic reactions. If you’re stung by a bee, you may want to know how to treat the pain and swelling. 

Minor reactions

A bee sting is a painful reaction of the skin to an insect’s defensive sting. It can be treated at home by removing the stinger, flushing and washing the area with soap and water, and applying ice. If symptoms worsen, or if you are concerned, call a doctor.

Moderate reactions

If a bee has stung you, remove the stinger as soon as possible, such as by scraping it off with a fingernail. Avoid squeezing or crushing the stinger, because squeezing a bee can release more venom and cause excessive swelling, tissue damage and pain. Wash the affected area with soap and water. Apply a cold compress. Take hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to ease redness, itching or swelling. Do not apply creams to broken skin. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed. You might try ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to help ease discomfort.

Bees can be beneficial in the production of honey and other products. But if you are allergic to bees, their venom can cause anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is potentially life-threatening. Bee stings, as well as stings from other insects or allergic reactions to insect bites, can cause mild to severe reactions.

How many eyes does a bee have? 

A bee has 5 eyes in total. All bees have 3 small simple eyes to help them sense light and dark. They also have two large compound eyes which detect color and fine detail. The compound eyes are made up of many tiny eyes which form an image together inside the bee’s head. This makes the bee’s vision much more acute than ours.

Bees can actually see, or rather sense, the electric field of flowers. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you consider that flowers have a slightly negative electric charge, and bees have electroreceptors on their body (40-50 of them) that can detect even the smallest of electric fields, it becomes pretty impressive. It was previously thought that just one pair of antennae on bees could sense light, but recent studies have confirmed that the sensory organs on their backs and abdomens can detect electric fields as well.

Do bumblebees sting

The last buzz 

Bumblebees do sting and they can sting multiple times. The bumblebee is actually less likely to sting than a honey bee, but their stings are usually more painful. It’s not recommended to approach bees or nests no matter which species you’re dealing with, so it’s usually better to give them space unless you’re a trained professional of course.


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