The stinger of a honey bee (see the drop of venom?)

Stinger with a drop of venomSooner or later many of us will have the unpleasant experience of being stung by a bee or wasp. Most insect stings occur during late summer and fall when stinging insects are most abundant.

Generally, these insects will not sting unless stepped on, touched or annoyed. Most stinging wasps and bees are beneficial and should be preserved unless they pose a direct hazard to humans. Some, including the honey bee, are important pollinators essential for the propagation of plants, including many agriculturally important crops. Honey bees also produce honey and beeswax.

The purpose of a honey bee sting is for defense. If a honey stings you, it is fatal for the bee - it will shortly die. After the bee stings, it trys to pull away from you, but the barbs on the stinger keeps the stinger in your skin. As the bee pulls away, she leaves behind the stinging complex (the stinger, the venom gland and the muscles controlling the gland). The stinging complex keeps working to pump venom into the victim even though the bee itself is long gone. An alarm pheromone is also released to "mark" the victim, so expect more bees to sting you if you have got one.

Sources: Stinging Wasp and Bees, University of Nebraska and Zachary Haung, Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, Michigan State University

Resources for More Information:

Can You Guess ItThe photo featured in the July 2004 NEBLINE Newsletter
(41 KB Adobe Acrobat printable .pdf file)



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