Can Bees and Wasps Sting When They are Dead?


Have you ever found yourself wondering if dead bees can still sting you? Or have you once picked up what you thought was a deceased bee only to find it was alive and promptly stings you?! Usually, this occurs because people do not have knowledge of these beautiful creatures and how they behave when threatened. In this article you’ll learn what to do and what not to do when confronted with a dormant or dead bees and wasps.

Can bees and wasps sting when they are dead? Yes, they can. However, often people will mistake a dormant bee as a dead one. If you were to pick up a dead bee with too much pressure you can extend the stinger and flush out the venom sac.

In the majority of cases they do not just sting out of impulse, they do this for several reasons including being threatened and attempting to protect the hive.

Basically what we are trying to say is that if you see a dead wasp or bee, be careful picking it up. You can still get stung! Though these insects appear dead, they will react if they feel threatened by you. Keep reading and we’ll explore the difference between bees and wasp, which species of bees have stingers and how to avoid getting stung.

Differences between wasp and bees

Before we go too deep, differences between a wasp and a bee should be established first for those that do not have an idea of what they look like and those that often gets them mixed up. All wasps have narrow waist, while bees are rounder than wasps with no waist. While flying, you can see the legs of wasps hanging down from their body, but this is not the same with bees. Bees also look fuzzier than wasps and these could be because they have fine hair on their body.

Whenever a wasp stings, the stinger does not detach from the venom sac of the wasp and it can always sting you repeatedly. However, bees on the other hand cannot sting repeatedly, because their stinger gets stuck in their victim and the bee dies immediately after the first sting.

One interesting fact about wasps is that only the female wasp has stingers because the stinger is used to deposit eggs. The male wasps look like they are stinging, but they cannot because they do not have stingers.

Though you can see wasps and bees as constituting nuisance when you get stung by them, but they are really beneficial insects and bees serves as pollinators, while wasp’s hunts down other types of insects that sting.

Do all bees sting?

A common misconception in the general public is that all bees have stingers. However, when you start to investigate this question it quickly becomes clear that this is not the case. So do all bees sting? The answer to that question is no. Not all bees sting, even those that are capable of stinging do so only when they feel threatened by your presence.

Which Bees sting and which do not?

Just like it has been said earlier, not all bees sting and the species of bees that does not sting are usually referred to as the ‘stingless bee’. Just like honeybees and bumblebees, they all belong to the same family.

The difference between stingless bees and bumblebees is that stingless bees have a very small stinger which they cannot use for defence. Most stingless bees are usually found in tropical countries.

Even among the bees that do not belong to the ‘stingless bees’ there are some species that cannot sting. The male bee cannot sting just like it is with the wasps also. Though the male bee would exhibit some defensive traits just to guard and protect the nest or hive. But In reality they pose no threat.

There are some male bees that scare people a lot but they actually cannot harm you. The carpenter bee usually appears intimidating, because anytime someone moves near the hive, they fly directly at you but they are just trying to investigate the possibility of any threat. In some countries, the bee is often confused with a bumble bee. Though the male carpenter bee cannot sting, but they seem quite scary.

Different Types of Bees and their Ability to Sting

We’ve identified that not all bees have stingers. Now the next logical question is what bees do have stingers? Here we’ll look at different types of bees and discuss whether they have the ability to cause any harm to you or not by stinging. Three major species of bees would be examined and they include;

  1. Bumblebees: The female bumblebee and the queens can sting. Though it is rare for you to see someone getting stung by a bumble because they are not aggressive and they would only sting you when they are provoke. For instance, a bumblebee would sting you if you are not careful while handling them or you step on one accidentally. Though male bumblebees cannot sting, they only buzz frantically to scare off potential threat and they also raise their middle legs when they feel threatened.
  1. Honey Bees: Just as it is with the bumblebees, male honey bees known as drones cannot sting. Only the female honeybees have stingers. Also, if you get stung by a honey bee, the sting is most likely going to remain on your skin.Though the swarming honey bee is not really interested in stinging you, all they want to do is get a new nest site for the colony. The swarming honey bee always fill up their stomachs with honey before swarming. It is more advisable not to move too close to a honey bee swarm and also avoid throwing things at them because these things could provoke them to attack you.
  2. Solitary Bees: There are different types of solitary bees, but stings from them are very rare even though they have stingers, they rarely sting unless they have been totally provoked.

Ways you can Avoid Bee Stings

Bee stings can always be avoided, though some necessary precautions would have to be taken.

  1. Avoid flowering lawns: For instance, if you have small kids, you should avoid having a flowering lawn. When bare feet or feet in sandals run around a lawn which has patches of clover, there is a very high chance that such feet could get stung by bees which are foraging on the flowers. If you however want to have a flowering lawns because of bees, you should ensure it is in a location where your kids can never get to.
  1. Leave nests of bees and wasp alone: You should totally avoid a bee or wasp nest. If you see large nest of bees or wasp, always ensure you do not throw things at the hive and do not spray chemicals also. You should also keep your children and dogs away from the spot. You can seek the help of a professional beekeeper in such a case.
  2. Do not eat outdoors: When you have bees and wasps around your home, do not eat outdoors because wasps are always attracted to sweet foods and if you would step out of the house, always ensure your hands are clean and there are no sticky foods such as juice, cake, ice cream and jam on your hands or clothes.
  3. Keep Calm: When you come in contact with a bee or wasp, always try to keep calm do not try waving your arms around in a bid to scare them away. They might also think you are trying to arm them, then they would attack you.

Related Questions

How does their stinger work?

The stinger will detach from the bee or wasps abdomen along with the venom sac and continue to pump venom into its target. Where wasps are concerned the stinger will attract other wasps which may intern result in yet more stings. This happened because there is a chemical in the wasp venom which calls other wasp’s attention and then they swarm in on the victim especially when the victim is moving. Even after the death of a wasp, the venom sac would still continue to move for minutes and it can still sting you if you make an attempt to touch.

What should I do if I get stung?

When you get stung, there is always a first aid treatment you can apply and the necessary steps are:

  • Wash the bite with cool water
  • Apply an ice pack on the spot to reduce swelling.
  • If the sting is painful or itchy, you can apply a soothing lotion to reduce the pain.
  • You can also take paracetamol or aspirin, but ensure that you do not exceed the recommended dosage.
  • If symptoms persist, you can then consult your doctor
  • If the sting occurred in any sensitive area of your body, do ensure you consult your doctor immediately.

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