Can Dead Bees Still Sting?

Disturbing a live bee will most likely cause it to sting you, however, you could also get stung without deliberately disturbing a bee or a hive. For example, sitting or stepping on a dead bee could mean you still get stung.

How Do Bees Sting?

Bees can sting due to the stinger that is attached to their abdomen. If you look closely at a bee, you’ll find that it has a needle-like point protruding from its abdomen, which is the second segment after its head. 

That needle is the stinger. Not every bee has one of these, though. Only the female worker bees have stingers; hence they’re the ones in charge of defending the hive. 

The male drones have bigger abdomens and look more intimidating due to this. They don’t have stingers, though, and can only buzz aggressively. This means that, if you’re stung by a bee, then a female worker bee did the deed.

To sting a victim, a bee perches on whatever area is going to get stung, lifts it’s abdomen and jabs it’s stinger in. 

Bee stingers aren’t just needles — they’re poisoned needles. They inject a venom called apitoxin into your skin once they pierce you. 

The active compound in apitoxin is melittin, which triggers pain receptors. This is what makes a bee sting so painful. Without the poison, a bee sting would be much less effective.

After one gets stung, the stinger doesn’t stop there. Female worker honey bees have barbed stingers. This means that when they pierce skin, the stinger gets stuck and the bee can’t pull it out. It must be noted, however, that not all bees die after they sting.

Bees with barbed stingers die since the stingers are attached to a part of their abdomen, which is left behind. This is somewhat worth it, though, since a stinger will continue to pump poison into a victim as long as it stays inside the skin. 

If bees were able to sting and retract their stingers, the poison would only stay in for a short while. With the stinger stuck, however, the stinger will continue to pump poison for up to 10 minutes, causing excruciating pain. 

It’s best to take out stingers as soon as possible after a sting to reduce the suffering.

Dead Bee Stings

Now that we understand how bees sting, it’s easier to understand how someone can get stung by a dead bee. While it’s not possible for a dead bee to zombie buzz over to you and sting you, you can sting yourself on a bee.

For example, a bee could have died with its stinger still attached and be on the floor. Simply by stepping on the bee without protective footwear could mean the stinger penetrates your skin. At this point, it’s less that the bee stung you but more that you pricked yourself on a bee’s stinger.

The poison in the stinger remains even after a bee is dead, so if you messed around with a dead bee and somehow the stinger managed to puncture your skin, you’ll feel all the pain that would’ve come from getting stung by a live bee.

To avoid accidentally pricking yourself on dead bee stingers, try not to walk barefoot, especially in grassy plains. One should also be careful handling dead bees — remember that they have weapons on them.

If you’re allergic to bee stings, don’t overlook an incident of getting pricked by a dead bee’s stinger. It’s not just about the pain here, but also about the venom, so you should seek help the same as if you were stung by a live bee.

Conclusion

Even though a dead bee can’t deliberately sting you, its stinger remains venomous and should be regarded as such. As such, it’s a good idea to be careful in parks and other environments where bees can be found. 

Before you lie in the grass or run around barefoot, check to make sure that there aren’t any dead bees. This will save you the pain of an accidental sting.

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