Do Bumble Bees Sting?

Do bumble bees sting? Generally speaking, bumble bees are mild tempered and peaceful group of insects. But the question is: do bumble bees sting? The answer is YES.  They will sting if and only if they sense that they have been compromised or when their hive (house) is disturbed. Just like other members of family Apidae (honeybees) bumblebees inject venom to its victims while it stings.  As far as its capability of inflicting pain is concerned, only females (queen and workers) have a stinging cell. Males or drones do not have distinctive stinging organ. Unlike typical honeybees, the stinging organ of honey bees doesn’t have barbs, so it can draw back its sting without pulling its stomach out. Bumblebees can sting you several times without dying.

bumble bee stinger

Do Bumble Bees Sting?- Yes!

For majority of its victims, a sting from a bumblebee can only cause localized swelling and itching. But in rare cases, stings of such insect can cause anaphylactic shock, deadly condition caused by severe allergic reactions.

Bumblebee sting local reactions

Just like its cousins wasps and honeybees, bumblebee venom contains particular substances that affect blood vessels and skin directly.  Symptoms like severe swelling, itching and redness on the area of the sting are common to most of the people. In some cases the swelling is so bad especially in parts of the body where the skin is loose such as in eyelids. In normal cases local symptoms like these disappear swiftly but could last up to a couple of days for some. Stings in the mouth or in the throat are serious because swelling can block air passages and victims are at risk of suffocation.

Bumblebee sting allergic reactions

Why is it that some people that some people are suffering from bumblebee venom so badly while others are not? The answer lies on the presence or absence of a particular anti-body on an individual. Presence of this anti-body is determined by undergoing blood analysis. Victims who are positive of IgE antibodies show severe allergic reaction to bee venom. Some patients who had been stung by bumblebees might just experience localized symptoms by the first time they encounter such sting. But situation might be different for the second sting because victims might develop IgE antibodies and the venom reacts on that anti-body.

Symptoms like reddening of the face and swelling of the neck are common signs of allergies. Some patient complains stomachaches, vomiting and diarrhea. The victim’s respiratory system might also be affected making the person complain about difficulty on breathing. In severe cases, the heart and vascular system can also retort: decline in blood pressure, fainting and anaphylactic shock may follow. Symptoms like this can manifest for as little as 30 minutes after the sting is inflicted. Studies shows that allergy to bumblebee sting tends to be more severe after several injections. So if you have an allergy to bee sting, you will not want to get another dose of venom the next time around.

Bumblebee sting prevention

As mentioned above, bumblebees are peaceful yet defensive insects so do not do anything that will provoke its aggressiveness.  You may not want to disturb this insects while they are at rest in there hive. When you see a bumblebee flying towards your direction, do not ever hit them because it’s pretty sure that they will retaliate. If you are using bumblebee for pollinating your greenhouse plants, you have to very careful in handling the hive. You might also want to skip your perfume spray if you know that you might encounter these insects in your garden. Remember this: one false move might mean swollen face or neck and even death. So if you ask me if the question do bumble bees sting?  The answer is yes so you better watch out.

The next article will focus on the things you can do if you or your buddy accidentally provoked and got stung by a bumblebee.


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