When we think about bees, wasps, and hornets, we often think about the possibility of them stinging us. And while plenty of other flying insects are capable of stinging, we usually equate stings with bees. However, did you know that not all bees actually sting? So, in that regard, which bees have stingers?
Only female bees have stingers and are capable of stinging because this is one of the ways for them to lay eggs. However, not all female bees are actually capable of stinging because only honey bees, bumblebees, and Africanized honey bees sting. This means that you can be safe if the female bee is not one of those bee types.
While we often give bees a bad reputation because of how they are known to sting, which can really hurt, you should know that you are generally safe from bees as long as you know that they are male or are not one of the three types of bees we mentioned. However, let us go over this in greater detail so that you can truly understand why bees are our friends and not our enemies.
Do female bees have stingers?
One of the things shared in common in most cultures around the world is that the word “sting” is often equated to bees because of how they are usually the ones that sting people whenever we get too close to them. That is why bees often have a bad reputation as “pests” that can sting can hurt us with their stingers. Even though bees are essential to the ecosystem as the world cannot practically survive without them, some of us are still afraid of these insects to the point that we even hate them.
However, what you must know is that not all bees have stingers. In that regard, if a bee doesn’t have a stinger, it will be impossible for it to sting us. And stingers are actually something that bees have depending on their sex. That is why some people tend to ask whether or not only the female bees have stingers because they are usually the ones who actually sting people.
As a matter of fact, only the female bees actually are capable of stinging because they are the only ones that have stingers. The reason why only female bees are capable of stinging is that their stingers are actually modified egg-laying devices. Naturally, because only the females are capable of laying eggs, only they are gifted by nature with stingers and the ability to sting as a defense mechanism against anything they perceive as threats to their hive and to their own individual safety.
In other words, as you might have already guessed, male bees are the safest bees in the world because they cannot sting due to the very fact that they don’t even have stingers. The fact of the matter is, regardless of whatever species of bees you talk of, male bees cannot sting. That is why they are generally the safest bees in the world as they will not attack you or even do anything to harm you in any way possible. It is only the female bees that are capable of stinging and hurting you.
Still, even if the females are the only ones that have stingers, that doesn’t generally mean that they are dangerous. Bees are usually harmless insects unless provoked. That means that they are not aggressive insects that will seek out to sting people with impunity just because they want to. Instead, the only time female bees sting people is when they are threatened or when they perceive any nearby creature as a threat to their safety and to the safety of the entire hive.
Bee types that have stingers
Now that you know that only the female bees are capable of stinging because they are the only ones that have stingers, you should also know that not all bees regardless of sex have stingers. Yes, there are some bees that have no stingers whether or not they are female. In that regard, let us look at the bee types that do have stingers:
Probably the most popular bees in the entire world because of their namesake. These bees are the ones that are often equated to honey production because they are the only ones capable of producing that naturally sweet treat that we all love. As such, there are plenty of different honey bee farms around the world due in large part to how they are used for honey production.
When you go to honey bee farms, one of the things you would notice is that honey bee caretakers wear protective gear. Of course, the reason for wearing protective gear is that honey bees do in fact have stingers and will sting when provoked or when they feel threatened. That means that they are not overly aggressive bees that will sting whenever they want to do so. Instead, honey bees will only sting when they feel threatened.
The bad part, however, is that honey bees will sting in large numbers because a threat to one is a threat to all. When one honey bee perceives you as a threat, all of the others will, and that is why it is necessary to be careful around honey bees. And the worst part of it all is that honey bees have barbed stingers that will be left behind on your skin after they sting you. But the loss of these stingers will also kill the honey bee in no time.
You can tell a honey bee apart from other bee species because they have large abdomens that are a lot bigger than their heads so that they can store nectar in great quantities. Honeybees also have four wings that are clear and are colored black or brown intermixed with yellow.
You may be familiar with the term “bumblebee” from the popular Transformers series, but bumblebees are also some of the most well-known bees in the world. They are closely related to honey bees and are also nectar feeders. But bumblebees do not produce honey, unlike their cousins.
While they do not produce honey, bumblebees are some of the most important insects in the entire world because they are some of the best pollinators around. That is why the declining number of bumblebees around the world has become a cause of concern for different countries, as these insects play one of the most important roles in any ecosystem.
Unlike honey bees that have barbed stingers, bumblebees do not have them. That means that they can repeatedly sting people as long as they want to when they are threatened. The fact that they can repeatedly sting also means that they are more dangerous than honey bees. However, like honey bees, bumblebees are not aggressive insects that will sting because they want to, and will only do so whenever they are threatened.
Bumblebees are about a quarter of an inch long and are larger and hairier than their honey bee cousins. They also have yellow hairs that are quite pronounced. Meanwhile, another difference between them and honey bees is that they prefer to nest underground.
Africanized honey bees
Simply called the Africanized bee, these bees are also often called “killer bees” for a good reason. These hybrid honey bees are some of the most defensive bees in the world, as they are more likely to sting anything they perceive as threats compared to their usual honey bee counterparts. As such, they can even pursue a threat for over 500 meters as long as they really do feel like their safety is being threatened. This makes it easier for us to understand why they are called killer bees.
Even though Africanized honey bees have venoms in their stingers that are the same as regular honey bees, the fact that they are more likely to sting people has led to more deaths than other bee species. In fact, on an annual basis, they can kill one or two people. That is why humans often fear killer bees. Side effects from killer bee stings include inflammation of the skin, dizziness, headaches, weakness, edema, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
The more dangerous part here is that Africanized honey bees are actually similar in appearance to regular honey bees. That is why it is quite easy to mistake a honey bee for a killer bee or vice versa. It would usually take an expert to figure out the differences between honey bees and killer bees, and that is why it can be quite difficult to tell one from the other.
As dangerous as Africanized honey bees are, the good news is that they are quite rare in comparison to other bee types. They are rarely found in populated areas, as most discoveries of killer beehives are accidental. It has only been in the state of Florida that these bees have been sighted in large numbers.
But you also have to understand that they are not aggressive bees and are just more defensive than any other bee species. Their “killer” name is often a misconception, as people believe that Africanized honey bees are just out there to sting people for no reason. But the truth is that they are merely defending themselves and are more likely to feel threatened compared to any other species of bees.