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Bee Stings

January 4, 2017

A listener asks: Do honeybees really die after they sting you?



The sting of death. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Listener John of Washington, D.C. has always heard that honeybees die after they sting you. But it sounds like kind of a raw deal for the bees, and he wonders if it’s really true. We consulted bee expert Greg Hunt of Purdue University.

GREG HUNT (Purdue University):

When honeybees sting you they do die. The stinger has barbs on it, so it gets torn out of their body and takes a little part of their guts with them and so they die in a few hours.


But he says honeybee queens aren’t so expendable. Their stingers are barb-less, so they can sting repeatedly without risking their lives. Fortunately, they don’t sting people. But similar-looking yellowjacket wasps do and they’re also barb-free, so can sting you multiple times. If you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. If we use your question, we’ll send you a Science Update mug!  I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.