The queen bee can sting, however it happens very rarely and therefore, she cannot be considered dangerous. The queen bee’s main purpose in the hive is to keep the population of the bees up by laying eggs constantly. Her job does not include defending the hive, that is the role of the worker bees and guard bees.
As long as one remains calm and relaxed while handling bees, they will not get stung for no reason. Bees only sting when they feel threatened. Avoid knee-jerk reactions while handling bees and you may save yourself from unnecessary stings.
More so, the defense mechanism of the bees is mostly a preserve of worker bees. They are the ones in charge of defending the beehive against attackers. The main center of attention in a hive is the queen bee. She is well protected and has one job and one job only, to keep laying eggs so that the beehive doesn’t dwindle in numbers. The queen bee spends her whole life inside the hive, she will not join in the defense of the hive, and therefore she is not considered dangerous.
However, the fact that she is not dangerous does not mean that she cannot harm by stinging any aggressor. For she has a stinger too, just like the worker bees and her sting is not barbed, which means she can sting multiple times without losing her life.
Keep reading to know more about the threat a queen bee poses and how to stay safe.
Do Queen Bees Have a Stinger? How Does the Queen Bee Stinger Look Like?
Queen bees do have a stinger. Queen bees are developed by feeding the larvae with special food (royal jelly). Without this special food, the larvae will develop to become worker bees, but it is the specific food that turns the larvae into queen bees.
However, their sting is different. Unlike the sting of worker bees which is barbed, the queen bee’s sting is plain. That means the sting cannot get stuck inside the victims’ skin. The different sting allows queen bees to sting repeatedly and not die. Worker bees do not have the luxury of stinging more than once because of their barbed sting. When they sting, their sting remains inside their victim and this disembowels the bee causing death shortly thereafter.
Can Queen Bees Sting People?
Despite having a stinger, the queen bee almost never stings people and only uses it to sting and eliminate other virgin queens.
Experienced beekeepers testify to the fact that although the activity of holding, marking and caging queen bees is quite discomforting for these insects, they never take it out on the beekeepers. Queens are often very peaceful creatures and don’t even try to sting people. Further, those who have had the misfortune of being stung by a queen bee report it as having been less painful compared to a worker bee sting.
The less pain associated with a queen bee sting could be credited to the lack of barbs on its sting. Of course, the smoothness of her sting makes her more lethal for she can sting multiple times with no consequence to herself. Even with this ability, she will rarely sting people.
Under What Circumstances Do Queen Bees Sting?
Although the queen bee will seldom use her sting against intruders of the hive, she will still employ it at some point. When a virgin queen hatches from her brood cell, the first thing she seeks to do is locate her competitors and eliminate them.
The queen bee will use her sting to eliminate any other virgin queens and only when she is the only one remaining will she now mate with as many drones as possible before embarking on her lifetime role of laying eggs for the colony. After mating, the queen will not leave the hive and will not sting anymore.
What is the Purpose of a Queen Bee’s Stinger?
The queen bee’s stinger serves a crucial role in her reign as queen. It is her greatest weapon when ascending to power from a virgin queen to the egg-laying hive’s center of focus. She uses it to force an attack and eliminate other potential queens while they are still in their cells. She will poke a stinger through the casing of a queen cell and sting the developing pupae even before it has a chance to emerge and challenge her.
Not only that, in case two queens emerge from their cells at the same time, there will be a fight to the death. During that deathly fight, the winner will deliver a killer sting to her rival to emerge top and mate with the drones before she can peacefully serve as the queen for the rest of her life. The stinger is a weapon of survival for any queen bee. Without it, she has no chance of becoming a queen.
Becoming a queen bee is such a hostile activity that a queen bee must use her sting whether she likes or not to survive.
Can A Queen Sting Kill a Human?
A worker bee has a venom sack attached to her stinger. When she feels threatened or is doing her job of defending the hive and her queen, she may use her barbed stinger to inflict pain on her victim. The sting is not toxic to humans unless they are highly allergic to bee venom.
Anytime a worker bee stings a victim, her stinger remains lodged within the victim’s skin together with the venom sack. The venom sac pumps poison into the bloodstream of the stung individual, and if care is not taken, they could die from the sting especially if they are allergic to bee venom.
For a queen bee, the mechanism is entirely different. She does not have a barbed stinger, it is smooth. She has the ability to sting more than once. Therefore, in case she stings a person at a sensitive location of their body, and does it repeatedly for she can do so, the person may suffer severe injuries that could be life-threatening. Thankfully, it is rare and almost never heard of for any queen bee to do that.
Are Queen Bees Aggressive?
Queen bees remain hidden inside the hive for the majority of their lives. It is very rare for them to be where there is any human interaction thus do not pose any danger to people. But in the chance of encountering a queen bee, they will not express any aggression of any way unless provoked. Bees in general are not aggressive, only if provoked!
However, there are cases where queen bees have been known to be aggressive. One of the greatest influences of aggressive behaviors in bees is genetics. Different types of bees as a whole tend to exhibit different levels of aggression. The Africanized bees for instance are famous for their aggression and strong defensiveness. Italian bees on the other hand are exactly the opposite. They are gentle and mild in aggression. They rarely bother anyone. Consequently, the descendant of any of these two species will exhibit similar behaviors including the queen. The Africanized queen bee is hot-tempered because of her genetics.
Another cause for aggressive behavior in queen bees is the kind of predecessor a subsequent queen bee found. Whenever a new queen succeeded a highly aggressive queen, she will tend to also be aggressive in order to protect her new position and not be ousted.
What Should You Do When You Encounter A Queen Bee?
Oftentimes, the new virgin queen bee flies out to establish a new home especially when the hive colony has become large. When space is too small to accommodate the population, some worker bees will rear a new queen and move out to find a new location. In such instances, it is possible that the migrating bee colony may temporarily land near your home. During such instances the queen bee while flying about may find itself inside your house, or may take a flying break to rest on your window since it is not accustomed to flying long distances because of its body weight. Whenever you see a queen bee, the other bees are also within the vicinity.
In such a case, you should do your best not to harm the precious queen bee. Keep your windows or doors open to make it easy for the bee to fly ought. Alternatively, you may do something to trap the queen. An easy way to do that is to use sugar and water mixture in a jar. Drill a hole on top of the jar that the queen bee can crawl through. Once it crawls into the jar, screw it shut on top and let the bee out from outside your house. Do not try to disturb a swarm near your home or spray it with water for it can make them aggressive.
Bottom line is Queen Bees are very gentle and will not harm people unless disturbed.