Do Bumblebees Die When They Sting You? How Bumblebee Stings Work
Stinging. This defensive act is normal for bees. However, many homeowners seem to believe that all bees sting like honey bees, able to fatally injure themselves after implanting their stingers into the skin. But is this really the case? Do bumblebees die when they sting you? Do they sting like honey bees?
Honey Bee Sting vs. Bumblebee Sting
For the honey bee, stinging can become a life-or-death situation. But for the fuzzy bumblebee, that’s not really the case.
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Honey bee stingers have a hook-like curvature at the end and are covered in microscopic barbs. These qualities enable the stinger to pierce through the skin and latch on to it, making it difficult for the bee to get itself out. Most of the time, this results into a fight to the death, between the bee and your skin. If everything goes south for the honey bee, it’s trashing and pulling rips its abdomen apart, leaving behind the stinger and the vital organs that are connected to it.
If you’ve been stung, we’re sure you know how this situation usually plays out. But if you’ve never had your fair share of honey bee stings, here’s a video from arvin pierce that’ll give you a closer look at how it all happens.
It’s brutal for honey bees but not for the bumblebees. The members of the genus Bombus have different stingers. They’re straighter with no barbs carved into them, and they’re able to penetrate the skin in and out smoothly. This means that there’s a lesser chance that the bee will injure itself, but there’s more chances of it doing multiple stings.
How to Treat Stings
Be it biting or stinging, any of these defense mechanisms will hurt. And it’s going to take a little while until the pain subsides. So if you’re unlucky enough to get stung by a bumblebee, here’s what you should do to relieve yourself of the pain and itching.
- Take an antihistamine. To keep itching and small allergic reactions at bay, take an over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl.
- Watch out for early signs of extreme allergic reactions. Don’t wait around for the worst to come. If you have a history of getting chronic reactions from insect bites/stings, go to the emergency room immediately. Don’t forget to keep your EpiPen close.
- Clean the sting with soap and water. This helps get rid some of the toxins left behind by the bee.
- Rub baking soda. If you’re not allergic to insect bites and stings, just rubbing baking soda against your skin will suffice. The powder is known to neutralize the toxin.
- Ice the swollen area. Cool the sting with some ice. Ice slows down blood flow and can keep the swelling down.
- Apply apple cider vinegar. Some homeowners prefer to apply apple cider vinegar on the sting to lessen the effects of the toxin.
- Get a tetanus shot. Since insect bites cause tetanus, get a tetanus booster a few days after the sting. That’s if you haven’t had it for more than 10 years.