Spring has sprung and that means we'll be seeing more and more bees flitting from flower to flower. For me, that's a true sign of the season. But undoubtedly by now, you've heard that bees are in real danger. While they're not officially on the endangered species list, many experts believe that they could go extinct sooner, rather than later. that would, of course, have devastating effects on animal and human life. To further threaten the life of bees, it is thought that when a bee stings you, it dies. And while no one likes to get stung, it does mean that a certain number of bees die off each year due to human interaction. Or does it? And that brings me to my excellent news, at least for some bees.
Bee stings are common and painful, but rarely fatal. The probability that you'll die from a bee sting is about the same odds as getting struck by lightning; pretty low. Most humans, when do get stung, take some satisfaction in knowing that the bee will die for his crime. But that is only true for some species of bees. Unfortunately, honey bees do die after they sting you, but bumblebees and other kinds of bees, hornets, and wasps live on another day after they "disrespect you" with their stinger. This is good news. Not for you humans, maybe, but definitely for bees.
How do bee stings work? "A bee sting occurs when a female bee or wasp lands on your skin and uses her ovipositor or stinger element against you. During the sting, the bee pumps venom into you from the attached venom sacs through the needle-like portion of the sting apparatus called a stylus. In most bees, including native solitary bees and the social bumblebees, the lancets are fairly smooth. The lancets do have tiny barbs, which help the bee grab and hold the victim's flesh when it stings, but the barbs are easily retracted so the bee can withdraw its stinger. The same is true for wasps." What this means is that most bees and wasps can sting you, pull their stinger out of your skin, and fly off before you even have time to holler, "OUCH!"
Why is it that honey bees die when they sting you? In honey bee workers, the stinger has fairly large, backward-facing barbs on the lancets. When the worker bee stings you, these barbs dig into your flesh, making it impossible for the bee to pull its stinger back out. As the bee flies off, the entire stinging apparatus—venom sacs, lancets, and stylus—is pulled from the bee's abdomen and left in your skin. The honey bee dies as a result of this abdominal rupture. Thus, a honey bee can only sting once." R.I.P.
Since we need all kinds of bees, but especially honey bees, it is best to do what you can to avoid them. When you head outdoors, don't wear scented lotions and don't use perfume, scented hairspray, flowery soaps, etc. If you do, you're just asking for trouble. The poor bee will be drawn to you believing that you're a giant flower! Other helpful hints that will protect you and bees, is don't wear brightly colored clothing and certainly don't bring along a can of sugary soda. If you wear a hat and long pants, the bee won't mistake you for a hairy predator and sting you to protect their hive. If a bee does come near you, stay calm; don't swat at it or flail your hands in the air. Let it land on you if it wants and gently blow on it to make it fly away again. Remember, bees don't sting just for fun. They do so only when they feel threatened or in defense of their nests. In most cases, bees will choose flight over fight.
We need bees. Please do what you can to avoid killing them. If you do find a hive near your home, please call a professional to come and remove it. Spraying it with chemicals designed to kill them, not only destroys the much-needed bee, but can cause harm to you, your, family, pets, and other wildlife and insects. Please BEE kind.
Tomorrow is Wednesday and that of course means a visit from my dear friend and teacher The Dharma Frog. Please stop by and and see what pearls of wisdom he has for me...and maybe you! Until then, I wish you