A bee sting may be painful, but that's nothing compared to the fate of the honeybee once it has lodged its stinger in a victim's skin. Luckily for both victim and attacker, honeybees usually only sting humans when they are roughly handled or they feel their hive is threatened. But when they do sting, it's fatal for them. Honeybees die after stinging because they are unable to easily remove their stingers from those they attack.
The honeybee's stinger is a long, sharp organ used for piercing. It has outer blades that turn as they make contact with flesh and dig in. This results in the stinger becoming anchored in the prey’s flesh and unable to be removed. When the honeybee tries to pull out the stinger from the skin of a human or other mammal, it actually rips out part of the insect's lower abdomen, including its digestive tract, venom sac, glands, and muscles. The honeybee then dies in a manner comparable to a human bleeding to death, except that the insect releases clear fluid instead of blood.
More about honeybees:
- A honeybee's venom has a scent similar to a banana and is typically released to signal to other bees that a threat is present.
- Honeybees can usually sting other insects without losing their stingers. Humans and other mammals have relatively thick skin, which means that honeybees can't easily remove their barbed stingers.
- It is estimated that about one-third of all food eaten in the United States is the result of plant pollination by honeybees.