Do Bees Die After They Sting You?

If a bee stings you it will die.

If you are at all like me, then you have heard someone say this before.  But, that is not actually true for most bees.  There are about 25,000 different kinds of bees in the world with about 4,000 in the USA and even fewer in the Rocky Mountains.  Of all those different kinds of bees, there is only one kind that dies after it stings you – the honey bee.

So, here is another fun fact about nature (although this one is not always fun if you are on the receiving end of the bee’s sting).  The rest of the bees, similar to wasps, are able to sting you and continue living.  In fact, if they were really mad at you they could sting you repeatedly.

dog beeGenerally, bees are not aggressive and will not seek out people to sting them.  If they are threatened or if they need to defend their nest then they may sting.  For the female honey bees, they know that if they sting you they are going to die, so they only sacrifice themselves by stinging if there is no alternative and they need to protect the nest.

When female honey bees sting they insert their barb into flesh.  The barb, similar to a fish hook, has a sharp point that sticks back opposite from the direction of the barb which makes it impossible for the bee to remove the barb once it has been inserted.  When the bee flies off its entire stinging apparatus gets gets ripped from its body and remains with the stinger.  This causes the honey bees lower body to be ripped off and results in the death of the honey bee.

If you are stung by a honey bee you will see the venom sack attached to the stinger stuck to your skin.  To remove this you should use something flat and brush it off your skin.  Do not squeeze it and attempt to pull it off because you will simply be squeezing the venom into your skin, making the sting that much more painful for you.