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How Long Do Bees Live After Stinging

How long do bees live after stinging?[Surprising Answer]

There is no denying that bees are an essential part of our ecosystem. We sure love them for that. They pollinate our food crops and flowers. Bees do have one nasty habit that makes them less cute. They sting! Have you ever wondered how long bees live after stinging?

Bees can typically live anywhere from a few minutes up to a few hours after they’ve stung you. There are a number of factors that can impact this and some important details you should be aware of, read on to find out!

When Do Bees Die After Stinging?

honey bee stinging a person

As your first step to an effective pest management system, you should try to keep food storage places as spotless as possible. Cleaning up food and grime is a great way to prevent infestations. Bugs like to live away from humans, and if you show over time that you are tending to and maintaining your home, they will be less inclined to bother you. Scrubbed spots are not ‘hospitable’ for bugs and insects.

A dirty area, however, is like an invitation for pests to wreak havoc. At first, we suggest you keep a closer eye on the situation than you normally would. Then, over time, as the presence of bugs seems lesser, you can ease back on the prevention process.

Honey Bees

A honey bee
A Honey Bee

Honey bees are social insects and also the only bee that dies from stinging you. This means that these cute critters live in large well-organized groups. Unlike other bees or insects, social insects are highly evolved. We can see this when social insects engage in different but complex tasks that we would not see practiced by solitary bees. 

Honey bees have developed multiple behaviors to exist successfully in social colonies. These behaviors include communication, complex nest construction, environmental control, defense, and division of labor.

The colonies in which honey bees live consist of three different kinds of adult bees. These are the workers, drones, and of course the queen. The worker bees, in their thousands, build the nest, collect food and take on brood rearing. The bees each have their own specific task to perform, depending on their age. The bees need to work together in order to survive. The colony cannot exist without all three kinds of bees, working together.

The drones are the male bees and they are the largest in the colony. They usually only show themselves during late spring and summer. These drones have no purpose other than to fertilize the virgin queen during their mating flight. Drones have no stingers, no pollen baskets, or wax glands. We might think that the drones do no real work for the hive, but their presence is believed to be required for normal colony functioning.

The queen bee is able to lay up to 1,500 eggs per day. These are all fertilized and unfertilized. Only the queen flies away from her colony to mate. This is nature’s way of preventing inbreeding. After mating the queen would return to her hive and lay eggs in about 48 hours.

What Are Signs of a Pest Infestation?

A honey bee swarm
A honey bee swarm

The obvious question is of course, how long do bees live after stinging. First, let’s ask ourselves why do bees sting us? They surely don’t have murderous intent. 

Bees have often mistaken us for food. This could be due to the clothes we wear or our perfumes.

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Bees sting when they feel that their hive is under attack. If they are confused, stepped on, or threatened, it is their only defense to get away. Bees will risk their lives to protect their queen and their hive.

Bumble Bees and wasps are able to sting us multiple times. This is because they don’t die after stinging. There are also bees such as the Meliponines that do not sting at all. This doesn’t mean they can’t hurt you. Some stingless bees are able to deliver strong, powerful bites.

Honey bee stings only once. They are unable to retract their stinger and once their stinger comes out, their guts follow. The barbed stinger has shards that dig into your skin when you are stung. The toxins from the bee venom sacs are still pumped into your skin, even after several minutes of being stung.

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Honey bees are the only bees that die after they sting us. A honey bee loses not only the stinger, it loses its life several minutes after.

Bee Stings

We all know how much a honey bee sting can hurt. But what happens when a bee stings us, and what should we do? Bee stings can cause different reactions. The reactions range anywhere from temporary pain and discomfort to severe allergic reactions. You might not always have the same reaction to bee stings. 

A mild reaction often presents itself with an instant, sharp burning pain at the sting site. There will be a red welt at the sting area accompanied by some light swelling. For most, the swelling and pain go away within a few hours.

The moderate reaction has stronger symptoms. Symptoms such as extreme redness and swelling at the sting site gradually enlarge over the next day or two. Moderate reactions often resolve by themselves within 5 to 10 days.

A severe allergic reaction is life-threatening. People who have severe allergic reactions to bee stings require immediate medical attention as they begin to suffer from anaphylaxis. The Symptoms of anaphylaxis are skin reactions, including hives, itching and pale skin, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and tongue, a weak or rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, dizziness or fainting, and loss of consciousness. In case of severe reactions, bee venom therapy may need to be implemented by a medical professional!

Do not pick at the stinger when you are stung by a bee. Gently scrape the stinger off your skin with a fingernail or knife. If you are entering an area known to have female bees, try to avoid wearing bright or floral patterned clothing. A bee might just mistake you for a flower.

What to do if Bees Attack

If we wander too close to a beehive, the bees could get defensive and start to attack. If they remain calm, do the same and move away slowly until they are out of sight. Try to not disturb them, as this can aggravate them into attacking. 

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What to do if Bees Swarm: 

  • Run in a straight line and take shelter in a car or building as soon as you can reach one.
  • Use your arms or shirt to shield your face, neck, and eyes from stings.
  • Do not swat the bees or wave your arms around.
  • Do not try to fight the bees.
  • Do not jump into the water. The bees will attack as soon as you come up for air.
  • Scrape the stingers out with a sharp object and wash the area with soap and water.
  • Applying an ice pack to the area will help with swelling.

If you have been stung more than 10 times, it’s best to seek medical advice immediately.

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Bees are a valuable part of our ecosystem. They are dedicated and risk their lives protecting their hives. A honey bee does not live more than a few minutes after losing its stingers. 

Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively. 

Read more here.

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