Will Bees Sting For No Reason?

Written On: by Theo The Beekeeper

Most people will be able to remember a time in their childhood when they had been stung by a bee. While it is not common to get stung by a bee, it is uncomfortable. During the summer, you may notice your garden or local park is full of bees, but will a bee sting you for no reason?

Bees will not sting people for no reason. They will only sting a person if they feel threatened, as their stinger is their defense mechanism against predators. To avoid getting stung by a bee, do not approach beehives and avoid sudden movements or swatting at bees with your hand.

bee
Bee

When it comes to bees stinging people, there isn’t much to fear. A bee sting will be mildly painful unless you are deathly allergic to bee venom. Also, bees don’t just sting people for no reason. They have to feel like they or their hive is being threatened before they sting. If a bee is buzzing too close for comfort, you can do a couple of things to avoid the chance of being stung.

Will Bees Sting For No Reason?

bee on flower
Bumblebee on the red flower.

The good news is our happy little fuzzy winged friends will not go out of their way to sting you for no reason. During the summertime, many bees may fly around, but there is no reason you should feel alarmed.

Bees will only ever sting you if you have done something that makes them feel threatened – this could be a direct threat to themselves, but it is more common that they sting because they believe you could be a threat to the colony.

Below are two of the main reasons why a bee might sting you:

You came too close to their hive – Evolution has ingrained in bees that any large mammal near their hive is a threat. You mostly have bears to thank for this, as they love tearing apart beehives to get to the honey inside.

A bee may perceive a human approaching its hive as a threat. Even if you are unaware that a beehive is nearby, you may get stung by a bee. And while this feels a bit unfair, it is not the bees’ fault. If the female worker bees have reason to believe you are a threat, they will, unfortunately, try and sting you to defend the hive.

Aggressive Behaviors – While you might think you are calm and peaceful, a bee may perceive your movement and behavior as aggressive and sting you. Our reflex action of swatting at a bee once it lands on us or talking to other people using large hand gestures are all perceived by a bee as aggressive behavior.

If a bee feels threatened by your movements, it may try and sting you. The reason for this is that the bee believes that your aggressive behavior could pose a threat to their hive.

Bees will only sting people under certain conditions, like the reasons listed above – this is because female worker honeybees have barbed stingers, which means that once they sting you, the stinger becomes lodged inside your stick. To break free of their stinger, the connected venom sack will rip out of their abdomen.

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The process of the venom sack ripping from their body ultimately results in their death, which is further confirmation that bees will not sting if they are unprovoked. However, certain kinds of bees are more aggressive and sting humans at a higher rate than usual.

The Most Aggressive Type Of Honey bee

bee keeper looking at bee hive
Beekeeper in white protective suit holding bee frame or honeycomb

It is possible to get some types of bee colonies that are more aggressive than others, and this generally happens because the entire colony takes after their queen, as she is the one who lays the eggs. However, just because some colonies may have more aggressive genes does not mean they will sting you for no reason.

The most aggressive type of honey bee is the Africanized Honey Bee. These bees are sometimes referred to as ‘killer bees.’ The crossbreeding of East African and European honey bees created a more aggressive honey bee subspecies.

However, just because these bees are known to be more aggressive does not mean they will sting you without cause. These bees may feel more threatened than regular honey bees, so you must be extra careful in their presence.

It is best to avoid Africanized Honey Bees, as they can get extremely defensive of their hive. Your presence within a 100ft radius of their home may be enough for them to perceive you as a risk and try to sting you.

Can You Tell If A Bee Is Going To Sting You?

If a bee has taken a particular interest in you, such as following you around outside, it is best to try and walk away slowly and find shelter indoors. The bee may believe you are a threat and is following you to confirm whether there is any danger from your presence.

Another indication that a bee is about to sting you is if they appear highly agitated. If a bee is buzzing loudly close to you, it may feel threatened and start preparing to defend its colony. If you notice a bee seems angry in your presence, it is best to try and walk away calmly.

How You Can Avoid Getting Stung By A Bee

As bees do not sting you for no reason, avoiding getting stung by a bee is relatively easy. A bee will only sting people if it feels threatened. The steps below will help you become a non-threat when in the presence of bees.

Do Not Swat At Bees

While this one sounds easy, it’s harder to follow when it happens in person – especially if you already have a real fear of getting stung. If a bee lands on you or is buzzing too close for comfort, you should never swat at them.

Slapping away a bee will immediately alert the bee that you are a danger, and it is a surefire way for you to end up getting stung. If a bee is flying too close for your liking, or if one lands directly on your arm, you should walk away slowly or sit as still as possible until the bee flies away.

Walking Towards A Beehive

This may be the most apparent point, but as humans are inherently curious, it is still worth mentioning. Do not approach the hive if you see a beehive while on a walk. Any large mammal near the hive is perceived as a threat, and numerous bees may become defensive and try to sting you.

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Even if you cannot see a beehive, if numerous bees are buzzing around in your vicinity and they all seem pretty agitated, it is best to turn around and walk away. Rather be safe than sorry!

Displaying Aggressive Behavior

A bee will not sting you if it does not perceive you as a threat, so, in the presence of a bee, you should try and be the least threatening version of yourself as you can. This means no sudden movements, no shouting or waving your arms around, and no running away. The safest thing you should do is move slowly away from the bee.

Do Not Run Away From Bees

While it seems counterintuitive, running away from an angry swarm of bees is a surefire way to get yourself stung multiple times. Your running makes for extremely sudden movements that may startle the swarm into attacking you. Your speed and aggressive behavior could also be a perceived threat to the hive, which will make the swarm attack. Your safest bet is to just back away from the swarm slowly.

Don’t Eat And Drink Sugary Foods Around Bees

While everyone enjoys an outdoor picnic, your sugary food is a bee magnet during the summer. Bees tend to get more aggressive when they are eating, so the likelihood that you will get stung increases dramatically on a picnic.

Also, it is human nature to shoo away any bug that tries to land on our food, and swatting at bees that are landing on your sugary food and drinks is not the best idea if your aim is not to get stung.

Wear Closed Shoes When Outdoors To Avoid Stepping On Bees

It is pretty standard for people to get stung by bees on their feet when walking outside barefoot. This usually happens when a bee rests on a flower and gets stepped on. In this scenario, it is hard to blame the bee for stinging you. You did step on them, after all. It is best to wear closed shoes during the summertime to avoid stepping on bees and getting stung on your feet.

Is Getting Stung By A Bee Dangerous?

If you do not have an allergy to bee venom, then getting stung by a bee is not at all dangerous. More people in the USA die from lightning strikes than bee stings!

When a bee stings you, you may experience some temporary redness around where you have been stung and some swelling. However, if you feel like you can not breathe, the swelling is severe and accompanied by light-headedness and dizziness – you should seek medical attention immediately as you could be severely allergic to bee venom.

How Painful Are Bee Stings?

Getting stung by a bee can be somewhat a shock; however, it is not that painful. The venom from the bee can sting a bit, and the site where you have been stung may feel tender for a few days, but most people would rate it at a 4/10 on the pain scale.

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What To Do After A Bee Stings You

As soon as you realize that a bee has stung you, you will need to remove the stinger as quickly as possible, as this will limit the amount of venom that gets injected into your body. You should use your fingernail or a bank card to scrape out the stinger that has punctured your skin.

Many people resort to tweezers to pull out the stinger. However, this method squeezes the venom sack, injecting even more venom into your skin and making the whole experience a tad more uncomfortable.

If you notice the usual allergy symptoms such as trouble breathing or excessive swelling, you should immediately use an epi-pen or seek medical attention.

Which Bees Do Not Have Stingers?

A few bees do not have stingers, so you will never need to worry about getting stung in their presence – this is undoubtedly a relief to hear for those who fear getting stung!

Male Bees – Males bees do not have stingers, whether they are honey bees, bumble bees, or any other species of bee. You can tell a male bumble from a female by looking at their physical features. Female bumble bees will have 12 antennal segments, while male bumble bees will have 13.

In some instances, male bees generally have longer hair and larger eyes than female bees. A female bee also has a shiny, hairy piece on her back legs called a pollen basket.

Stingless Bees – Meliponine bees are known as stingless honey bees. You can find them in more tropical regions such as tropical America, Africa, and Asia. While the female bees have stingers, they are usually too weak and small to sting you.

However, this does not mean you can just go around aggravating these bees on purpose, as some species still have secretions in their jaws that can cause blisters.

Which Bee Species Can Sting Multiple Times?

The bee to avoid angering if you fear getting stung is the bumble bee. Bumble bees have smooth stingers that are not barbed, which means they can sting you multiple times because their stingers are smoother and can withdraw from human skin easily instead of getting stuck.

Conclusion

Bees will never sting someone for no reason. A bee will only sting in two scenarios, if they feel threatened enough to attack or if you have wandered too close to their hive, and now they feel that they must defend the colony.

You can do some things to avoid getting stung, such as never swatting a bee, avoiding aggressive behavior and sudden movements, staying clear of any beehives, and remembering to wear closed-toe shoes in the summer months. Bee stings are not that painful or deadly. However, you should seek medical aid if you experience a severe allergic reaction after getting stung by a bee.

References

https://www.buzzaboutbees.net/will-bees-sting-for-no-reason.html

https://www.noble.org/news/publications/ag-news-and-views/2017/march/11-myths-about-bees/

https://theconversation.com/its-bee-season-to-avoid-getting-stung-just-stay-calm-and-dont-swat-153625https://animals.mom.com/there-kind-bee-doesnt-sting-10377.html#:~:text=Stingless%20bees%20are%20also%20known,of%20imposing%20a%20defensive%20sting

Author

Theo The Beekeeper

When I was a kid, my dad used to keep bees around the small farm we had, and I absolutely loved helping him. In the past few years, we’ve picked up the hobby again, and I’ve been doing a lot more research. This website is the accumulation of things I’ve learned along the way! You can learn more about my journey and the resources I’ve developed on my about page.

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