Do bumble bees sting?

09.01.2018. 12:00

Bumble bees are usually peaceful insects, but they will attack if provoked. A simple answer to ‘do bumble bees sting’ is yes, but there is more to that.

Their sting is different than a sting from a honey bee, and they can sting multiple times. As with honey bees, only female bumble bees (queens and workers) have a sting.

We will explain what happens when the bumble bee stings and how to avoid it.

What happens when a bumble bee stings?

Since we already answered the question ‘do bumble bees sting’ you should also know what happens when a bumble bee stings.

A bumble bee’s stinger is different than a honey bee’s stinger; their stinger doesn’t have barbs. Since a bumble bee’s stinger is smooth, it doesn’t get ripped out when a bumble bee stings. As a result, bumble bees can sting multiple times at once and possibly cause more harm than a honey bee.

Read more: How to treat a bee sting?

When bumble bees attack?

Unlike honey bees, bumble bees are not as defensive and will only attack if provoked. Attacks usually occur near the hive because the bee is defending the hive. If you see a bumble bee buzzing around you, it might be attracted to something sugary. Covering any sugary substances to prevent the bee from sensing them, and moving away from the bee itself is usually enough to prevent a bumble bee sting.

How to avoid stings?

The best way is to avoid bumble bee nests. Their nests can be made in the ground, in nests abandoned by small animals like mice or in loose grass clippings. The most obvious sign a nest might be near is the sight of bumble bees buzzing just above the ground.

If you are already close to the nest, you should stay calm so you don't provoke the bees. You should not swat at the bumble bees, wave your arms or bump into their nest. Just move away slowly and carefully, and you should be fine.

If you have a nest near your house, and you would like to get rid of the bumble bees, you should clear away possible habitat spaces. You should clear away brush and grass piles and keep the ground well watered. Wet ground is not stable so that should prevent the bees from building underground nests.

Also, keep the trash inaccessible as it often has sweet and sticky substances that will attract bumble bees if they can sense it.

Bumble bees do sting but they are not aggressive

Do bumble bees sting - yes, should you be afraid of them - no. As mentioned before, bumble bees are not aggressive as honey bees and usually won’t attack unless you disturb the nest or the bumble bee itself.

You should remember that bumble bees have a venom similar to the venom of honey bees, so their sting may cause an allergic reaction.

However, an allergic reaction to bumble bee venom is rare.

Read more: Have you ever seen a bee having a wee?