Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Who Brings The Sting?

Honeybees are much less likely to sting than you think they would.  

I've pulled honey supers off their hive, brought them into the sugar house, and spun out the honey, while having 20 or more honeybees flying around me in the room - without a single sting.  I watch the bees while I work and it seems like they just want to get a little bit of honey and get the heck out of there!    

I've seen honeybees sting for two reasons: (1) Their hive is being invaded.  When you're working the hives, there are always those guard bees who make it their mission to sting you.  They are very upset and they are the ones who fly directly in front of your face, outside the mesh of your bee suit hood, with a high pitched, very angry, whine sound from their wings.  Who can blame them though?  You've just ripped off the roof of their house and started poking around!  (2) Their personal space is invaded.  Occasionally, if you actually put your thumb on a bee, or step or sit on one, they will sting you. 

A honey bee really doesn't want to sting you - it means death to the bee!  Let's say you're sitting out on your lawn chair enjoying a cool drink and a honeybee comes buzzing around you.  It might be attracted to the smell of your flowery perfume, or you may be sitting right where there are some particularly succulent flowers.  Once the honeybee finds out that the flower smell is big being it is most likely to buzz off to other flowers.  Sit still one day and watch what the honeybee does.  

Bumblebees too, I've found are very docile unless they're personally attacked.  You can watch a bumble bee collect nectar and pollen from inches away and they'll completely ignore you.  One time I had a bumblebee fall down my shirt and, oh yes, it stung me more than once before I could get it out!  

I don't have too much experience with yellow jackets, paper wasps, and bald faced hornets, but I've heard they're much more aggressive.  I know people who have accidentally encountered their nests and come out with multiple stings.  

I apologize that this graphic overruns my page.  I had to set it up this way to make it large enough to read.  I found the graphic on Pinterest and would be very happy to give credit to the creator if they would contact me.     

There's an interesting error in this graphic.  It shows an ear of corn as being dependent on bee pollination.  Corn is wind pollinated.  As the corn plant tassels (the golden tops that resemble mop heads), it opens its packets of pollen. At the same time, silky strands become exposed on the lower portion of the plant (where the corn that we eat grows). The pollen from the top of the plant must reach the silk. In the fields, this is done solely by wind and luck. Once the silk is covered in pollen, each strand will become a kernel of corn, and an ear of corn will start to form. 

Although corn is mostly wind pollinated, almost every other vegetable or fruit depends on bee or insect pollination.


  1. I've found that the paper wasps are not very aggressive at all. I was stung a few times but that was because I was knocking down their nests on the house. Now it's live and let live. they are interesting when they decide to take down a beetle much larger than themselves. Quite a site. Now Yellow Jackets; Those I track down and destroy.

  2. I have to agree about the paper wasps. Though they build their nests on the sides of our pool and sometimes are aggressive due to splashing water!