Everyone has been stung by an insect at one time or another. It’s an unpleasant experience, but for most people the damage inflicted is temporary. Only a very limited portion of the population, two people out of 1,000 are allergic or hypersensitive to bee or wasp stings. Stinging insects are limited to the order Hymenoptera, which includes bees, wasps, and ants. The stinger of bees, wasps and ants is a modified egg-laying apparatus, so only females can sting. Most hymenopterans live solitary lives, and their behavior is more likely to get away than fight. Social hymenopterans,including yellow jackets, honey bees, bumble bees, and fire ants have soldiers in the colony whose task it is to defend the nest. If the nest is disturbed, these individuals will defend the colony vigorously. Foraging members of the colony also will sting if they are disturbed as they go about their activities. Some, such as the yellow jacket, are much more likely to attack than any thing else. Africanized honey bees is closely related to the European honey bees, which is used in agriculture for crop pollination and honey production. The two types of bees look similar, and their behavior is similar in many respects. Neither are likely to sting you when gathering nectar and pollen from flowers, but both will sting in defense.
The Africanized bee can only sting once and has the same venom as the European honey bee. However, the Africanized honey bees are a lot less predictable and more defensive than the European honey bees. The Africanized are more likely to defend a larger area around their hive, and they respond faster and in greater numbers than the European honey bee.
Facts About Bees & Wasps
- Honey bees may make 10,000,000 trips to gather enough nectar to make a pound of honey.
- Their activity for 1 pound of honey means a total distance flown of 50,000 plus miles and over 2,000,000 flowers visited.
- Honeybee workers move to different jobs as they grow in the colony:
- Week 1 – clean the hive
- Week 2 – feed the larvae
- Week 3 – do repair work on the honeycomb cells
- Week 4 – guard the hive
- Week 5 and beyond – collect pollen and nectar from flowers
- The term “honeymoon” used to be when a newly married couple was provided with enough honey wine to last them for the first month of their new life together.
- When searching for food sources a honey bee may travel up to 60 miles in a day.
- Only female ants, bees and wasps can sting. Males do not have the egg-laying “ovipositor” that is modified as the stinger on female stinging insects.
- Honey bees have a total of 5 eyes. This gives the honey bee excellent eyesight.
- The wings of honeybees beat around 11,000 cycles per minute.
- Average flying speed of a bee or wasp is only around 15 miles per hour.
- Bees & Wasps feed on sweet liquids & juices.
- The State of Utah has been named “The Beehive State, however the top producers of honey are traditionally California, Florida, and South Dakota.
- China produces more honey from honey bees than any other country in the world.
- Americans eat a little over 1 pound of honey each year per person.
- Honeybees do not actually “make” honey, but instead they convert the nectar they gather to honey, by constantly regurgitating it and allowing it to dehydrate.
- The honey bee is not native to the USA. They were introduced to this continent by some of the first European settlers.
- Native American Indians referred to the honey bee as the “White Man’s Fly”.
Some Symptoms of being Stung by Bees & Wasps
Bee & Wasp stings can produce different reactions, ranging from short term temporary pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction. You may not always have the same reaction every time you’re stung.
- Bee & Wasp sting symptoms are minor most of the time and include:
- A red welt or knot at the sting area
- A white spot where the stinger punctured the skin
- Swelling around the sting area
- Swelling and pain go away within a few hours in most people.
- Some people who get stung by a bee or wasp have a bit stronger reaction, with signs and symptoms such as:
- Extreme redness where stung
- Swelling at the site of the sting that gradually enlarges
- Moderate reactions tend to resolve in about week.
- Some people develop similar moderate reactions each time they’re stung.
Severe allergic reaction
- A severe allergic reaction to bee & wasp stings is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. Signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) include:
- Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed skin
- Deep breathing
- Swelling of the tongue and throat
- Weak rapid pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness, fainting or falling around
- Loss of consciousness or passing out
Multiple bee & wasp stings
Insects such as bees and wasps aren’t normally aggressive and only sting in self-defense. In some cases, this results in one or perhaps a few stings. In some cases a person will disrupt a hive or swarm of bees or wasps and get multiple stings. Africanized honeybees — are more likely than are other bees to swarm, stinging in a group.
If you get stung more than a 10 times, the accumulation of venom may induce a toxic reaction and make you very sick. Signs and symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, vertigo, fainting, convulsions and/or fever.
Call 911 or other emergency services if:
- having a serious reaction to a bee or wasp sting that suggests anaphylaxis.
Seek prompt medical care if:
- You’ve been swarmed by bees or wasps and have multiple stings
The honeycomb from bees will attract pests like mice, roaches, rats, ants and robber bees due to left over honey. And it will also attract new bee colonies to move in.
While bees & wasps commonly build their nests under the eaves of a roof or slip beneath shingles and cracks to enter the attic, they don’t usually leave any damage behind on a business or home. A colony of bees or wasps will take advantage of cracking or splitting wood to slip inside, but the presence of a colony often means damage was already there in most cases. Repairing this damage is crucial to ensuring no more infestations occurs in or on your property.