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How do bees sting people?

How do bees sting people?
Collis School year 2 from Surrey (age 5-14)

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2 Responses

  1. Not all species of bees have stings that are strong enough to penetrate human skin. The following describes the stinging of honeybees, which can sting humans. When a bee feels it or its hive is threatened by a human they may defend themselves with their sting. The sting is at the tip of the abdomen (body) and it is attached to a sack filled with bee venom. Venom is a complicated blend of chemicals that make the sting so uncomfortable. The sting has a strong casing that can penetrate human skin and a hollow tube at the centre, which the bee venom travels along. By curling it’s abdomen, the bee activates muscles that pump the venom into the victim. It also releases chemical messages (alarm pheromones) that warn it’s nest mates of the danger and encourage them to attack. Along the casing of the sting the worker bees have barbs that stop the sting sliding out when the venom is being delivered. If the insect stings another insect the sting can be pulled out of the victim easily and used again. However, when bees attack birds or mammals (like us) the barbs can’t be so easily removed and the sting is generally ripped out of the bee resulting in its death. Only female bees can sting. This is because the sting has evolved from an egg-laying tube that the males don’t have.

  2. Only female bees can sting; male bees do not have a sting. The sting is a sharply pointed structure normally held inside the tip of the rear end of the bee. When the bee feels the need to defend itself or its hive/nest, muscles inside the bee’s body contract and cause the sting to emerge and penetrate into a person’s skin. Attached to the base of the sting is a gland that pumps a venom through the sting into the person’s skin. It is this venom that causes the pain and swelling associated with a sting.

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