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Why Do Bees Die After Stinging?

Nature

By energy consultantPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
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Have you experienced the pain of a bumblebee sting? It's truly dreadful! The burning sensation lingers for hours, accompanied by swelling that leaves a noticeable red mark for days. But as unpleasant as it is for us, spare a thought for the bee—it pays the ultimate price for its sting, dying shortly after delivering it. How could a creature possess a defence mechanism more perilous to itself than its target? It's a puzzling scenario, but there's more to this than meets the eye. So, brace yourself with thick gloves and some ice as we uncover the mysteries behind bee stings.

If you've ever been stung by a bee, chances are it was due to human interference. Bees typically only sting when their hives are threatened or when provoked by aggressive or careless behaviour. While foraging for pollen, they generally leave humans alone unless mishandled or stepped on. Interestingly, not all bees meet the same fate after stinging—only honeybees do. When a bee stings, it inserts its stinger into the skin. For honeybees, their stingers, composed of two pointed lancets, have rough edges resembling tiny barbs. Unfortunately, this design prevents them from retracting the stinger once inserted. In their attempt to fly away, the stinger, along with muscles, nerves, and parts of the digestive system, is torn from their abdomen, leading to their demise.

However, bees can sting other insects without suffering the same fate, as their stingers detach easily. This difference in outcomes is due to the collagen content of the creatures' skin, with pointed lancets designed to anchor deeply. But when it comes to mammalian skin, the stinger cannot be removed without causing significant damage, leaving bees unaware of the fatal consequences of their actions.

But what happens to us when we're stung? Bee venom, containing a toxic substance called melittin, is injected into the skin during a sting, causing pain and swelling. For those allergic to bee stings, it's the melittin they react to, resulting in redness and swelling at the site of the sting. Since bee venom disperses easily in water, it spreads throughout the body, affecting areas with high water content.

If stung, prompt removal of the stinger is crucial, as the venom sacs continue to pump venom until extracted. Delayed removal leads to increased injection of melittin, resulting in heightened itchiness and swelling. So, swift action is necessary to avoid prolonged discomfort, as illustrated by a regrettable incident involving a bee sting to the tongue—something no one wants to experience.

Now, let's explore a fascinating aspect of bee behaviour—stingless bees. Contrary to popular belief, not all bees can sting. Male bees and numerous female bees from various families lack this ability. Stingless bees, predominantly found in subtropical regions like Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, Brazil, and Mexico, are a prime example. While they lack a functional stinger, they resort to biting as a defense mechanism, holding on to adversaries until resolution, whether theirs or the opponent's.

Despite their harmless nature, stingless bee hives can be sizable, comprising thousands of workers. While only a few species produce enough honey for human farming, stingless bees serve other purposes. Due to their gentle disposition, many people, particularly in Brazil, opt to keep them as pets, highlighting their unique role beyond stinging.

The honey bee, known for its unmistakable fluffy appearance and delicate humming sound, is a crucial pollinator in biological systems around the world. With its dark and yellow striped body, it's effectively conspicuous and assumes a pivotal part in keeping up with biodiversity. Honey bees are social bugs, living in settlements with a sovereign and female laborers. They visit blossoms to gather nectar and dust, moving dust starting with one bloom then onto the next all the while, supporting plant propagation. Their fluffy bodies help them gather and convey dust proficiently between blossoms. Honey bees have specific tongues called proboscises, permitting them to get to nectar profound inside blossoms. They are dedicated animals, frequently seen humming from one bloom to another looking for food. In spite of their little size, honey bees contribute fundamentally to the fertilization of many yields, including tomatoes, blueberries, and squash. Sadly, honey bee populaces are declining because of living space misfortune, pesticide use, and environmental change, putting forth preservation attempts essential for their endurance.

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