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Bumblebee Stings

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Am i right in thinking that if a female bumble stings you, her abdomen is ripped out and she dies.

Or are bumblebees like wasps, that can sting you over and over again??

Grateful for any info on this subject. Thanks all.

     
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Bumblebees can sting many times, I’ve only just found that out myself…..........It’s the honeybees who lose their inner bits and die :(

     
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Thank you Paula for your response. Poor honeybees :-(

     
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Per one of my books Bumblebees do die if they sting a person.

Their stings are designed to fight off insects, not people; if they sting another insect they can still retract their stingy bits despite the barbs, but their stings get stuck in human skin, tearing it from its body when it attempts to retract it & wounding the bee which will die soon afterwards.

     
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Hi All,

I must have had several dozen BB stings all in all (probably more) - mainly when moving colonies.
All the bumblebee stings I’ve experienced confirm that the sting is not barbed and goes in and then immediately out again pretty rapidly and with no damage to the bee, which can and will sting you a second time if it chooses to. It certainly does not die having stung you.

The result from my human perspective is closely similar to the effects of a honey bee sting, ie. immediate pain, later some swelling, redness, etc which can last at some level for a day or three.  But since the venom dose you get is much smaller, it might have a lower effect on humans than a honey bee sting. 
However at a Talk on stings and their effects by a Prof from Oxford University, it was mentioned that some people get worse effects from BB stings than HB stings - and that was probably the case with me initially.

If a HB does break away and leave it’s sting in you, it is quite likely to come back and want to try to sting you a second time - even though it no longer can.  Yes, it will die, but I guess this will be hours later and meanwhile it will carry on functioning much as normal: and honey bees show no reluctance to defend their colony.

I hope this helps !

Clive

     
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Hi Clive,

Thanks for your very interesting reply!  It’s such a shame you have been stung by so many bees. I have held loads of BB’s especially last summer/autumn and haven’t been stung…...yet. I am waiting for it.

How bizarre to hear of B’s who will continue to defend their nests, even when dying, poor things but i suppose that’s one of their roles within the hive.

Fascinating as usual Clive and very informative, thanks again grin

     
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Hi alibumble,

Sorry, I should have come back to you on this ages ago - but perhaps better late than never !

If you are collecting a BB colony to allow it to be moved elsewhere, from the bee’s viewpoint you deserve to be stung, since you are attacking the colony.

When I do this I work barehanded initially, since it is so much easier to get everything set up and in position.  Then I put on a pair of thin rubber gloves (surgical type, but nitrile rubber) since the bees are much less prone to sting gloved hands. 
But they can easily do so, since the sting can penetrate the thin rubber, if by accident I am clumsy. 

I’ve had so many honey bee stings over the years that although they hurt a bit initially, they don’t usually cause me much of a problem.
So I view BB stings as an inconvenience and not as a threat.

BUT someone who handles BBs in non-threat conditions like you should be at minimal risk of being stung - as would I be under such conditions.

The best bees to pick up are the drones - because they have no sting: and the easiest drones to recognise are B. lucorum drones, since they are so recognisable:  but those of B. pratorum and B. lapidarius are also very distinctive !

So, for your BB party trick, opt to pick up B. lucorum (White-tailed BB) drones !

Yours               Clive

Now here are some pictures of these three easily identifiable drones (males).
Look out for the little “powder-puff” of yellow hair on the bee’s forehead !
Oh, and also be aware that the drone’s yellow or red fur is likely to get sun-faded as they age.

B. lucorum is the White tailed bumblebee.
B. pratorum is the Early bumblebee.
B. lapidarius is the Red tailed bumblebee.

     

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DSC_0266_B_lucorum_drone_-_on_Stonecrop.jpgDSC_4876_B_pratorum_-_Drone_on_Bramble.jpgDSC_0175_B_lapidarius_-_Drone.jpg

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Thanks Clive once again for your very knowledgeable reply and for the gorgeous photo’s of the lovely male bumble’s. They are my favourites, mainly because they can’t sting…lol. Beautiful babies.

All the best grin

     
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Hello

reading your post Clive has given me a flashback!
The only time I have been stung by a bumblebee was when I was working at Queen’s University Belfast.
We had just obtained a commercial B terrestris colony. I was working under a red light and attempting to add food to the box or something.
I was very clumsy and got far too close to the nest and a very determined worker attacked me. She stung me in my baby finger three times.
And I was wearing gloves!


Good times smile

     
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Well you learn something new every day! I was under the illusion that bumblebees died once they had stung a human. I now stand corrected. It also makes me astonished that I’ve managed to amble about the garden getting very close to bumblebees without coming a cropper (am I rempting fate here?)...I have been ‘buzzed’  at a few times, when a bee lets it be know in no uncertain terms that I’m invading her personal space.