Wonder Friends probably already know how important bees are to the process of pollination. Thanks to bees, our plants and flowers grow and reproduce from year to year. However, bees are best observed from a distance.

If you’ve ever scared a bee, gotten too close or stepped on one, you know it can be a painful experience. Bee stings can hurt a lot and turn an otherwise nice summer day into a day you won’t soon forget for all the wrong reasons!

When most people think of bee stings, they’re thinking of stings from the honey bee. Honey bees that are out and about searching for nectar or pollen away from the hive usually won’t sting anyone. Honey bees at home protecting their hive, however, are another matter entirely.

Honey bees vigorously defend their hives from perceived threats. If you stumble upon a honey bee hive and the bees sense you as a threat, they will actively attack and try to sting you.

When honey bees sting, pheromones are released that can incite other nearby bees to join the attack. One stinging bee can turn into hundreds or even thousands of stinging bees in just a short time.

In a hive, the female worker bees are the bees that sting. The larger male drone bees don’t have stingers. Queen bees also have stingers, but they rarely leave the hive to use them.

When a bee stings you, its sharp, barbed stinger pierces the skin to inject venom called apitoxin. In most cases, the stinger’s barbed end gets stuck in the victim’s skin and tears loose from the bee’s abdomen.

Not only does the stinging bee leave behind its stinger, but it also leaves behind part of its abdomen, digestive tract, muscles and nerves. This massive injury is what kills the bee. The part of the stinger left in the skin can continue to pump venom into the victim for up to 10 minutes or until it is removed.

Honey bees are the only bee species that dies after stinging. However, honey bees can sometimes survive after stinging if the victim’s skin is thin and doesn’t hold the barbed end of the stinger. This doesn’t happen all that often, though, because honey bee stingers are designed to stick in the skin of the victim to maximize the amount of venom injected into the victim.

Bee stings can be quite painful. For some people, though, they can actually be deadly. Some people are allergic to the venom in bee stings. For these people, a sting can trigger an allergic reaction that causes a dangerous — and sometimes deadly — condition called anaphylactic shock.

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    • Great question, DestinyCurry! We learned something new about honeybees in today’s Wonder. See if you can find the answer in the excerpt below:

      “When a bee stings you, its sharp, barbed stinger pierces the skin to inject venom called apitoxin. In most cases, the stinger’s barbed end gets stuck in the victim’s skin and tears loose from the bee’s abdomen.

      Not only does the stinging bee leave behind its stinger, but it also leaves behind part of its abdomen, digestive tract, muscles and nerves. This massive injury is what kills the bee. The part of the stinger left in the skin can continue to pump venom into the victim for up to 10 minutes or until it is removed.

      Honey bees are the only bee species that dies after stinging. However, honey bees can sometimes survive after stinging if the victim’s skin is thin and doesn’t hold the barbed end of the stinger. This doesn’t happen all that often, though, because honey bee stingers are designed to stick in the skin of the victim to maximize the amount of venom injected into the victim.”

      :)

  1. We learned a lot about bees. We watched the Wonder about pollination, we did not know that bees were so important in growing the food we eat.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about chasing a friend, airplanes, or cheetah.

    • Way to go, Wonder Friends in Ms. Bayko’s Class! Isn’t it interesting to think about how different insects help certain things grow, like bees and flowers? We are so happy that you learned something new with us today! WOHOO!

      Your guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day® are super speedy! Nice work! We’ll see you tomorrow… have a marvelous Monday! :)

  2. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Ten students in our class have been stung by a bee. The rest of us learned a lot about what to do if we were to get stung.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about chasing turkeys.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s 4th graders

    • WOW, we think there are ten brave Wonder Friends in your class, Mrs. Tillman! We are excited that our 4th grade friends are WONDERing with us today! We’re also very excited to learn about removing the stinger safely! We think bee stings stink, but it’s important to know how to handle bee stings in case they do happen.

      We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be… we’re chasing it into tomorrow! :)

    • We thought so, too, Bryleigh! It was cool to learn that only honey bees die after stinging– it’s such a WONDERful day to be a part of Wonderopolis! We’re glad you’re here– thanks for sharing your smiles with us! :)

    • We didn’t, but thanks for sharing that cool piece of information with us, Wonder Friend Bobjoe! We Wonder what your favorite part of today’s Wonder was? :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Jareem! We’re so excited that you’re WONDERing on your own about bees today! Nice work!

      Bees can kill humans in swarms (there is power in numbers) or if an allergic reaction occurs in the human being. Sometimes, humans are allergic to bee stings, which can cause bodily harm.

      We Wonder if you can do some research on your own about bees and how they defend themselves. Are they predator or prey? :)

  3. We found out that bees die after they lose their stinger and start to fly. Also we learned if you start to vomit you should call 911. And also when you panic when you see a bee, it will try to sting you.

    • Wohoo, we’re so excited that our Wonder Friend Desolly learned something new today! Thanks for summarizing what you learned from today’s Wonder of the Day®! We’re so glad you’re here! :)

    • Great point, Emily P! It’s important to remember that every insect and animal has to defend itself when it feels threatened! It’s important to remember that when you are about to swat away a bee– instead, just let it be! :)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Twelve students in our class have been stung by bees. We didn’t enjoy it. We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about the game of tag.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th graders

    • WOW, so many of our Wonder Friends have been stung by bees! Yikes! We sure are glad you’re okay! Phew!

      Thanks for sharing your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®! We can’t wait to chase down tomorrow’s Wonder with you! :)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I liked reading about why bees sting. I am scared of bees, myself! I know how to protect myself from getting stung. I would like to know if there is such a thing as a borough bee? I would also like to know what the difference is between borough bees and bumble bees? Also, how can I keep these bees away from my crab apple tree when I am cleaning up outside?

    If I ever move these bees from my yard without using spray, will they come back?

    Sincerely,

    Jon D.

    • Hey there, Jon D! We’re happy to hear that you learned something new about those buzzing insects today– hopefully that will help your fear of bees! They can be scary sometimes!

      Thanks for sharing the Wonders of your own, too! We are very proud of you! :)

  6. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thank you for giving us the bee show. I learned that bees get nectar from flowers. How do bees make the honey from nectar? Thank you so much! I love Wonderopolis!

    Sincerely,

    Alex N.

    • We’re so happy you enjoyed our Wonder today, Alex N! It’s cool to learn that bees and flowers help each other grow in nature! Thanks for sharing your very own Wonder with us, too! :)

  7. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Today we learned all about bees. Bees are beautiful but can be mean. Bees lives in hives and try to find flowers. I learned that bees are good for planet earth!

    P.S. – Does Wonderopolis like the band Big Time Rush?

    Sincerely from,

    Steven G.

    • You make a great point, Steve G! We are so glad you summarized what you learned from today’s Wonder! Thanks for visiting all of us at Wonderopolis! :)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thanks for teaching me about bee stings. I learned about how they sting. Thanks for teaching us about bees and how they stay in people’s skin. I would like to say thanks for the video. I have one question for you. Do you guys know anything about bee hives and how bees sleep and eat?

    I am scared of bees! One of my family members got stung by a bee before!

    Sincerely,

    Michelle A.

    • Isn’t it cool to learn about bees and how they sting, Michelle A? We hope you don’t have to deal with a bee sting, but now you know how to get the stinger out! Thank you for WONDERing on your own, too! :)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thank you for helping us learn about bees. Now I know that the girl bees are the ones that sting us. If I get stung I will use a credit card to take out the stinger and then put ice on it. What do honey bees eat?

    From,
    Elliot

    • We sure are glad that our Wonder Friend Elliot R is here today! It’s great that you and your Wonder classmates have learned so much from today’s Wonder of the Day®! Thank you for sharing your comment today! :)

  10. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I learned that female bees have stingers. My sister got stung by a bee once. My mom helped my sister! My question for you is how are bees born?

    Sincerely,

    Kevin B.

    • It’s great that your mom helped your sister when she was stung, Kevin B! We are glad that you learned something new about bees– it’s interesting that the females are the ones with the real stinging power! Thanks for joining the fun at Wonderopolis! :)

  11. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I learned that you have to scrape the bee sting out of your skin and put an ice pack on it. I have a question. Do you think bees sting other bees? Thank you!

    Alexa D.

    • We bet the ice really helps if you are ever stung by a bee, don’t you think so, Alexa D? We sure are glad that you are here, WONDERing with us today! Thanks for posting your AWESOME comment! :)

      • Thanks to all our Wonder Friends for their awesome questions from today’s Wonder! Check out the WONDERing going on…

        Jon D: I would like to know if there is such a thing as a burrow bee? I would also like to know what the difference is between burrow bees and bumble bees? Also, how can I keep these bees away from my crab apple tree when I am cleaning up outside?

        Alex N: How do bees make the honey from nectar?

        Steve G: Does Wonderopolis like the band Big Time Rush?

        Michelle A: Do you guys know anything about bee hives and how bees sleep and eat?

        Elliot R: What do honey bees eat?

        Kevin B: My question for you is how are bees born?

        Alexa D: Do you think bees sting other bees?

        We are very excited that our friends are doing so much WONDERing on you own! We bet you can do some research to find out more about these awesome questions you posed.

        Jon D asked about burrow bees.We found some more information on burrow bees– they actually live, or burrow, in the ground instead of in a hive in a tree!

        Kevin B asked about baby bees. Queen bees lay eggs, usually in the hives, and that is how baby bees are born.

        Great work, Wonder Friends!

  12. I learned that honey bees die after they sting people but my question is why do the queen bees don’t do work? Why doesn’t it protect the bee hive itself?

    • It’s important for the queen bees to rest, Abrianna M! Queen bees are responsible for the entire hive, and they are also the ones who care for the eggs before they are hatched. Because they are in charge of all the babies, it’s important for the queen to stay warm and protected by the rest of the bee family! :)

    • We bet you’d need some medical attention, Adam B! It’s important to be extra careful around bees– they will sting if you aggravate them, but if you’re nice to them and stay out of the way, they won’t bother you! :)

    • Great question, Makai W! We learned in today’s Wonder that when honey bees sting, the leave their stinger in their victim (like human skin). The stinger is attached to a lot of their essential organs, so they die afterward. Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • That’s great, McKenzie! We’re so glad that you realized how much bees can help us! We’re happy you’re WONDERing with us today! :)

  13. I learned that the female bees are have stingers and they are the worker bees. If you’re stung then you can put tobacco on it and it will make it take away the sting.

    • How right you are, Tanner S! The females are the ones with the stinging power! We also learned that an ice pack can help with the stinging pain! :)

    • Great question, Tyler T! With lots of bee stings at one time, a human can die. However, many humans do not encounter multiple bee stings unless they interfere with the hive! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • It’s important for those with allergies to bees be extra careful! However, if you are stung by only one bee and don’t have an allergic reaction, we think you’ll be okay. Make sure you get that stinger out! :)

    • You sure can, DayDay120! You’d need special instruments since bees are so small, but that is how scientists have learned so much about bees– by dissecting them! :)

  14. We learned a lot about honeybees today, but we have some more questions:

    If a bee is dead, could the stinger still hurt you? Can you get the stinger out of a dead bee? We think that might be hard, since the stinger is connected to the abdomen.

    ~ Mr. Thompson’s Science Class

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Mr. Thompson’s Class! We are so proud of all of you for WONDERing with us today! The stinger of a dead bee still has venom in it, and can still technically “sting” you! We bet you can do some more research of your own about dissecting bees! We’d love to hear what you find! :)

    • Yellow jackets sure can sting, Aaron! They are some of the most painful bee stings, too. We are so glad you’re WONDERing with us, Aaron! :)

  15. Sorry I didn’t comment when I usually do but I am now! I knew a lot about bees so I knew almost all of that. All I really don’t know about bees is the types. I have been stung many times, only once this past summer though. They HURT!!!!!

    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about a very famous race.

    • No problem, Wondergirl101! We’re glad you’re here now! You sound like a bee expert, too! We hope you avoid bee stings in the future– they sure are painful!

      Thanks for sharing your AWESOME idea for tomorrow’s Wonder! :)

    • We’re glad that you connected today’s Wonder to that awesome Bee Movie, Batman! We’re glad you enjoyed today’s bzzzz Wonder! :)

    • Hey there Austyn! We’re glad you have a Wonder of your own about bees! We Wonder if you can find the answer to your question in the excerpt below:

      When a bee stings you, its sharp, barbed stinger pierces the skin to inject venom called apitoxin. In most cases, the stinger’s barbed end gets stuck in the victim’s skin and tears loose from the bee’s abdomen.

      Not only does the stinging bee leave behind its stinger, but it also leaves behind part of its abdomen, digestive tract, muscles and nerves. This massive injury is what kills the bee. The part of the stinger left in the skin can continue to pump venom into the victim for up to 10 minutes or until it is removed.

      Honey bees are the only bee species that dies after stinging. However, honey bees can sometimes survive after stinging if the victim’s skin is thin and doesn’t hold the barbed end of the stinger. This doesn’t happen all that often, though, because honey bee stingers are designed to stick in the skin of the victim to maximize the amount of venom injected into the victim. :)

    • Great answer, Diego H! It’s important to leave bees alone– we wouldn’t like to be bothered if we were bees! Thanks for answering today’s Wonder! We’re so glad you’re here today! :)

    • Hey there, Omar H! We think it’s cool that you have a bee hive near your home– we hope you’ve gotten a good look at it (from a safe distance of course!) Some of our Wonder Friends have seen bee hives near their houses, too! :)

    • YOWZA, Danielle, we sure are glad that you’re okay! Those bee stings sound painful, but we’re glad you recovered! We Wonder if you stepped on or walked into a bee hive? How did it happen? We’d like to know how to avoid that in the future, too! :)

    • That’s great news, Chilly the Penguin! We hope you aren’t stung by a bee anytime soon, but we sure are glad that you know what to do to get the stinger out! Nice work, Wonder Friend! :)

  16. Why don’t drone bees sting? How long do bees live? Why do bees stings hurt so bad? Why do bees have so many babies at one time? How do you know so much about bees?

    • WOW, we are so excited that you are WONDERing about things that go bzzzz, Jayleigh! :) We have been WONDERing about drone bees, and we learned that they are male honey bees… and only the females sting! We Wonder if you can do some research of your own to answer some of your SUPER Wonders! :)

    • Oh man, Skyler Marie L! We sure hope your sister is okay, but we’re glad to hear that you haven’t had a painful bee sting! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! :)

    • Great question, Ashley S! Tornadoes have a mind of their own… so sometimes they stay on a straight path, and other times, they can veer off in different directions. Storm chasers usually have a good idea of which direction a tornado is headed! We love your AWESOME Wonder, Ashley S! :)

  17. Trust me. I hate bees a lot. I got stung twice. One on my foot and one on my forehead. The foot one, the bee was already dead and its stinger was still in him. The forehead one, I saw one in in 5th grade and I was scared because it was following me. Without thinking, I trapped in on my forehead. Thankfully they weren’t honey bees because their stingers weren’t stuck in me and I didn’t have any real after pains.

    • We’re so excited that you learned something new today, Josie! We learned that bees can sting for different reasons, but it almost always has to do with defending themselves. If they feel threatened (for example: when you swat them away when they get to close) they are inclined to sting! :)

  18. Well I was at summer camp and this girl came and intentionally steped on a yellow jacket hole and I was turned around talking to a teacher when all of a sudden everyone was screaming and I could not figure out why, then I saw 3-4 yellow jackets stinging me then soon there were 12 of them. When all of us were inside we were crying super hard while she was over their laughing like crazy. From that day I learned who my friends are and who are not! It was the end of the day so there was only 10 of us left and 4 of us got stung. Just because of that incident 2 teachers had to risk getting stung and that’s how it all happened.

    • YOWZA, Danielle, we bet that was a terrible situation! We’re so glad that you’re okay today, as well as your friends and teachers from camp! We hope you’re having a WONDERful day– thanks for sharing your story with us! :)

    • Great question, Molly! The fur of bees is kind of like human hair– it traps the pollen for the bees to carry it from one place to the next! :)

  19. Hey wonderopolis I have gotten stung by a bee many times but I have a question: what makes a bee want to sting you? ok bye now. :) :) :D :) :)

    • Great question, Phobe! Bees usually sting when they feel threatened or alarmed– and sometimes this happens if you’re too close to the hive or you swat the bee away with your hand! :)

    • I will never go by a bee hive again because I might be allergic to the venom in a bee sting. So whenever I see a bee or a bee hive I will run away!!!!!

  20. Hi Wonderopolis,

    Why do bees sting? We think that Bees sting to protect themselves, even though they die, they have enough time to go back to their hive with the nectar and pollen.

    Thank you for your wonder. We are inquiring into living things have specific features to help them survive in their environment.

    MSC
    :)

    • We think you are on the right path, MSC! We learned that bees sting to defend themselves! We are glad to hear that you are WONDERing about nature in class– what a great connection to our bzzz-ing Wonder! :)

  21. Hey Wonderopolis this was a pretty cool WONDER but I’m not a pretty big fan of bees though although I know they help the planet plants and flowers which is nice!
    P.S I started to not like them when I first started Middle School this year when I got a WEEE bit to close and was attacked that stunk! Anyway AWESOME Wonder SEE YA!

    Your Friend-
    Griffin

    • Bee stings are no fun at all, Griffin! We agree with you! We hope those bees stay away– we’re proud of you for WONDERing with us! :)

    • We learned that the honey bee dies after stinging because its stinger is attached to important organs. We Wonder if the same is true for the wasp, Christian… :)

  22. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Wow that was awesome. I learned that queen bees have stingers and males don’t have stingers. I never knew males didn’t have stingers. Yes bee stings are painful, they hurt so much. Pheromones are interesting, if I ever get stung by a bee I’m never going to go back outside. What type of bees are here? I abhor bees!

    • We hope you don’t get stung by a bee, but we’re glad that you will know what to do, Wonder Friend! We have lots of bees here at Wonderopolis, but we give them their space so they don’t sting us! :)

    • Great question, Chase! We bet you can find out with some WONDERing of your own! Wasps eat nectar, fallen fruit, and sometimes other dead insects. :)

  23. I have had two sets of bee stings two weekends in a row, and that got me thinking – is it possible the bees pheromones were still on me and that is why I got stung the second time?

    It seemed a bit random that I wouldn’t have been stung for about 15 years and then get stung two weekends in a row.

    • What a WONDERful question, Nathan! While we are not doctors, we sure do like your logical idea behind the two bee stings! We hope you’re feeling a-okay and we hope a doctor, nurse, or bee expert can help answer your WONDERful question! :)

    • We sure hope you don’t get stung, either, Rylee! We’re glad you learned something new with us today and we hope you’ll visit us again soon! :)

    • Hi Madi, great questions! Honey bees are the only bees that die after stinging, so the queen honey bee might die, but a yellow jacket queen bee wouldn’t. Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Ouch, Donavin! That must have hurt! If you were stung recently, the tips in the “Try it Out” section may help you to feel better.

    • Did you know a tornado picked up a sleeping baby set it down 320 feet away and the baby was alive … And still asleep!

    • Oh my, we’re not sure, Room 216! That’s one experiment we would NOT want to participate in! Have a WONDERful day! :)

    • Hi, Landon! Thanks for WONDERing with us! Be sure to read the Wonder of the Day text above to find the answer to your question! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do bees sting?
  • When are bees most likely to sting?
  • Do bees die after they sting you?

Wonder Gallery

Bee StingVimeo Video

Try It Out

We’re still buzzing about today’s Wonder of the Day! Keep flying with a friend of family member as you check out one or more of the following fun activities:

  • Can a bee sting taste good? It can if it’s in the form of Bienenstich, also known as Bee Sting Cake. It’s a German delicacy that features a creamy filling with a sticky, sweet honey almond coating. It might get its name from the honey topping. Others believe its name came from the fact that its inventor got stung by a bee the first time he made it. Still others believe a German village was saved from invaders when its residents threw bee hives at attackers. They supposedly celebrated by cooking this cake. Whatever the true story is, it’s delicious. Head to the kitchen and bake your own Bee Sting Cake today!
  • Can you imagine how traumatic it must be for a bee when it stings you? How about photographic proof? Check out The Sting to see a slow-motion image capture of what happens when a bee stings you. Feel free to read the short blog post that explains how the image was captured.
  • Have you ever WONDERed what you should do if you get stung by a bee? First, seek help from an adult as soon as possible. Then, treat your bee sting using these helpful tips:
    • Get the stinger out! Removing the stinger as quickly as possible will help reduce the amount of venom that gets into the body.
    • Wash the area with soap and water and apply an ice pack to reduce swelling.
    • If you’re in pain, ask your parents or a doctor for over-the-counter pain medication. An antihistamine can also help with itching and swelling.
    • Seek medical help from a doctor or a hospital if you get stung near the mouth or the eyes. Also seek professional help if you notice trouble breathing, unusual swelling or dizziness.

Still Wondering

Check out National Geographic Xpeditions’ Insects We Love and Hate lesson to see pictures of insects that bite and sting and to classify insects into “likeable” and “not-so-likeable” categories.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will have you saying “Right!” or “Left!”

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