Most of us humans have a fear of bees. That is to say that we fear getting stung. It is painful and often swells up and then itches. It just isn't a fun experience at all. For this reason, we don't like bees. We eliminate them from our yards and properties as quickly as possible and sometimes go so far as to not venture to certain areas of the yard or even nature in general to honor this fear. But what bees don't sting?
However, most of our fear is based on what we honestly do not know. We assume that if there are bees in the area, they will sting us. After all, they are out to get us and our children. In reality, this is not the case. Most bees, wasps, hornets, and the like are far more interested in going about their business foraging for nectar and pollen or mates than worrying about you.
What may be even more surprising to you is that most bees can not even sting you. Either they don't have stingers at all, or they are so small that they pose no threat to humans. So let's find out what bees don't sting.
All About Bees
Bees are very incredible creatures, and they are very important to life on Earth. Scientist and biologists around the world have named bees as a keystone species in most regions where they reside. This is a name given to species within an ecosystem that are so important that without them everything living in that area would die off and cease to exist as we know it.
So what makes them so special to our world? Their extreme pollination skills. There are many ways that plants and crops become pollinated, some even do it themselves. However, studies show that bees pollinate about 80% of the world's plants. These plants provide food and invaluable habitats for animals and wildlife species that are crucial to our existence. About 90 species of those plants are major commercialized crops that we as humans have come to rely on. We do not pollinate them.
The bees do. It is estimated that they have a work value of about $14.6 billion every year in the US alone. In the UK, they contribute more to the economy than tourism does to the royal family. That is a lot of free labor. Without the bees, those crops, such as almonds, watermelons, tomatoes, coffee, and many more, would all perish. We would not have a sustainable food source and neither would the rest of the world, wildlife included.
Therefore, it is important to not just rule out the bees because of our fear of being stung. We have to learn to live with them. The best way to do this is to understand more about them. If we know more about them, we will know if there is actually a threat to us or not, we will know what bees don't sting. And we will also know how best to interact with them for the betterment of both of our species.
Why Do Some Bees Sting?
Bees may sting for several reasons. Most of us feel threatened by bees and imagine that they are just waiting around the next bend in the path to attack the unsuspecting human walking by. However, this is simply not the case. Any reason for a bee to sting you has to do with self-defense. Bees, like most animals, will defend themselves if they feel threatened.
If you are swatting at them, about to sit on them or walking on them, there is a good chance you might get stung. But they use this defense as a last resort. Most bees would rather fly away from harm if they can. If they are not left with another option, however, they may sting you. It is important to know most bees sting is barbed. This means that it sticks into your skin when they sting you. When they try to fly away, the sting will stay in you and pull out her intestines with it. She will then die shortly afterward. So you see why this is used as a last resort.
Several species of bees, such as the honey bees, may also sting if they feel that either their honey stores or their queen are in danger. This will happen if you are too close to their hive or colony. It is important to note that the queen bee can sting without losing her stinger. However, since they spend the majority of their time inside the hive breeding, the chances that you come across one is very slim.
These queens most often use their stinger to dominate over other queens in the hive and eventually eliminate them. They are used to establish their power and reign, very rarely will they ever use them to sting an intruder or human. After all, that is what they have worker bees for.
However, there are far more species of bees that live solitary lives than those that do not. Therefore, they do not have a queen to protect. Nor do they produce honey and have stores of it. Most solitary bees live in small holes in the ground for short amounts of time, just long enough to lay their eggs, gather a pollen sack for each egg when it hatches and flies away. These are very little threat to anyone at all.
What Bees Don't Sting?
Before we get into which species sting and which do not, let us start by saying that male bees or drones of any bee species, the world over can not sting you. It is physically impossible for them to do so. The stinger of a bee is simply a modified or enhanced ovipositor. This is an organ that helps the female to lay eggs. So only females have them. Many species have these organs; however, some, such as the bee, have adapted it for defensive uses.
Since males bees do not and can not lay eggs, they also do not have this organ. Therefore, they can not sting you. Only a female can sting you. The males may act intimidating at times, some may even appear to be flying right at you in attack mode, but they pose no threat at all. They are merely trying to gauge the threat you may pose to them. Just remember they can not sting you.
There are many species of bees that do not sting at all, males and females alike. There are about 20,000 species of stingless bees. Most of these reside in tropical regions such as Africa, Australia, Asia and South America. These are typically very small bees. Female of stingless bees are equipped with a stinger. However, they are so small, and the stinger is so weak that it is not even capable of piercing through human skin.
Honeybees and Bumblebees are the most common types of bees that will sting you, and we mentioned before, they only do so if they are provoked and feel threatened. Bumblebees, in particular, have a bit of a warning system that they use. If they feel threatened, they will let you know. They do this by lifting one of their middle legs into the air, vertically. If you back away, you will find that they will soon relax and put the leg back down.
However, if you continue to be a threat to them, they may raise yet another leg. If they feel that threat is still being continued they may two legs into the air. They may also turn over to show you their stinger with their legs still in the air. This activity is called "posturing." It is a sign that they mean business. However, it does not always mean that they will sting you. They may decide to fly off, or they may sting you. Our advice, do not provoke them and leave them with such a choice.
In all species of bees, there are small differences in the physical appearance of males and females. For example, some species of male bumblebees have pale yellow facial hair and little yellow mustaches. The legs are also different in shape, size, and hairiness. If you learn some of these traits, you will be able to gauge what bees don't sting.
What Bees Don't Sting - Conclusion
Now we know what bees don't sting. Bees are such a crucial addition to our world and, while they may frighten us a bit, we have to learn to coexist with them peacefully. Therefore, it is important to remember that not all bees sting. In fact, most bees hold very little threat or danger to us. That is unless they are threatened or provoked themselves. A good rule of thumb is if you see bees watch them from a safe difference.
Determine if you can tell the difference between male and female and if this bee lives in a hive with many others like or if is a solitary one. This will tell you whether they, in fact, pose any threat to you. In any case, it is always wise to not threaten or provoke them. Let them go about their business. Give them space, and they will leave you be as well.