Queen bees are the life of the hive. Without them, the whole colony would not survive for long. Because of their crucial role within the hive, they are highly protected and mostly remain hidden within the hive. But at times, when the colony is relocating, they can bump into humans. Are you aware of their stinging ability and do you know if they are harmless or not?
Yes, queen bees can sting and are more dangerous than other types of bees. A queen bee is a special worker bee and it possesses a stinger just like other female worker bees which it uses early in its life to kill other queens. It also uses its stinger if need be to protect itself against humans.
Do Queen Bees Possess a Stinger?
Queen bees like other female bees have a stinger. However, their stinger is much different in appearance, size and purpose because of their specialized role in the colony.
Queen bees are specialized female bees. They are lain as fertilized eggs by the previous queen and they are fed with special food that helps them grow up to be different from the female worker bees. The special food is known as royal jelly, and it is fed to them from the time they are at the larval stage. If they do not feed on special food and just take up normal food, they will become worker bees like the rest.
Because they are specialized female worker bees, their basic structures such as having a stinger and the ability to lay eggs are the same as that of worker bees. But because they develop to be queens, everything about them is slightly different including their size and appearance and even their stinger.
A queen bee’s stinger is smooth while that of the worker bee has barbs. It is this difference in the design of the stinger that makes all the difference in how a queen bee stings and also makes them more dangerous than worker bees.
Do Queen Bees Sting?
Every queen bee has a stinger and without a doubt can sting. As a matter of fact, it uses it severally early in its life cycle. When there is a need to replace the current queen because she has become too old or has died, the worker bees set aside more than one larvae for the special feeding program with the royal jelly. Several eggs have an equal chance of taking the new position of the queen. At times several queens can hatch at the same time.
But if one queen happens to hatch from her brood cell before the rest, her first order of business as a new virgin queen is to eliminate any competition. The newly hatched queen will go-ahead to kill the other queens before they hatch by stinging them.
If it happens that two queens have hatched at the same time, then the only solution is to fight to the death. The two rivals will engage in a deathly fight and will each employ the use of its sting to strike a fatal blow to the other so as to be the only queen in the colony.
It is in these two scenarios that the queen bee uses its stinger.
Only when she is assured that she is the only surviving queen will she go ahead to mate with the drones before settling down to a life of laying eggs until she gets old and is killed by the worker bees or replaced by the farmer whichever comes first.
So a queen bee uses its sting at least once in its lifetime. Though after mating the queen will go into the hive and focus all her attention on laying eggs. She will not sting again because queens seldom leave the hive.
Are Queen Bees Harmless?
A queen bee’s stinger gives it the ability to sting and she will not hesitate to use it if need be. But her sting is different from the other bees and that is what makes her a very dangerous type of bee.
The stinger held by the queen bee is smooth unlike that of the worker bees which has barbs. The difference in structure is very significant when it comes to the dynamics of stinging.
It is the barbs on the worker bee’s stinger that cause it to be stuck into its victim after stinging. If the bee tries to free itself, its internal organs which are connected to the stinger will remain and that is what leads to the death of the worker bee.
Having a smooth stinger means the queen bee cannot remain stuck in its victim after an attack. Therefore, the smooth stinger gives the queen bee the ability to sting several times. It can sting without any implications for itself. The ability to sting the same victim several times is what makes the queen bee more dangerous than worker bees.
Although this is the case, it is not like the queen bee goes around being aggressive looking for someone to sting. A queen bee will not sting people easily unless it is unavoidable.
Queen bees rarely sting people because they mostly remain hidden in the hive and do not easily encounter people. Their sting is majorly for the elimination of fellow virgin queens.
Therefore, you can conclude that although the queen bee is very dangerous she is harmless. Most beekeepers often handle the queen safely without any issues and claim that queen bees are very peaceful.
The encouraging bit is that those who have been stung by queen bees before swear that the stings are not that painful. Probably, her smooth sting is the cause for less pain experienced.
Even though queen bees are harmless, that should not mislead you to begin messing up with them. They will not hesitate to sting when forced to. The worst part is they can sting you several times and not die. It is best to keep off from interfering with a queen bee as much as you can.
Can You Die From a Queen Bee Sting?
People have been known to die from bee stings, but not everyone. Only those that are very allergic to the venom released from a bee sting.
When a worker bee stings a person, she also releases a poisonous venom from her venom sac and pumps it into her victim. The venom is what leads to an allergic reaction in humans while the stinger causes pain to the victim to prevent harm to the bee itself or her hive.
The queen bee is much different. Although she does not pump venom into a person, she can inflict enough injury into a person to cause death. Remember, she cannot die no matter how many times she stings, meaning she can keep stinging until she inflicts enough harm to cause death especially if she stings a sensitive location within your body.
Luckily, queen bees rarely sting people, and there is not much information about a person dying from queen bee inflicted injuries.
How to Treat a Queen Bee Sting?
It is important to treat bee stings before they worsen and lead to death, more so if the stung person is having a serious allergic reaction.
Queen bee stings, although generally harmless, need quick attention too, especially if the person has been stung in a sensitive location such as the head and a number of times considering that queen bees can sting many times.
The first effect on the body of a human after a queen bee sting is pain and swelling around the stung area. The first priority, in that case, is to reduce the pain from the sting and have treatment for the wound whether it is minor or severe.
Most bee stings do need medical attention and can be treated at home. If it is a light swelling or there is only slight redness, you do not have to worry much, you can use household supplies to treat your injuries and you will be fine.
Here is a simple procedure for treating a queen bee sting at home;
- Use an ice cube to reduce the inflammation and numb the pain in the stung area from the queen bee sting.
- If it feels itchy you can take an antihistamine or apply soothing cream. It usually helps.
- If the pain and your body’s reaction from the sting is a bit more, you can use Benadryl.
However, if the area of attack is anywhere around the face, that may be enough reason to visit a hospital and seek medical attention.
If after having been stung you notice some parts of your face such as the throat, eyes, lips or tongue are swollen, do not waste time. Visit the ER as soon as possible. The reason for this is that, the harm may be worse than you imagine and can cut off your breathing causing death.
Should I Kill a Queen Bee?
Under normal circumstances, you should not kill the queen bee unless the situation is dire.
Beekeepers usually replace old queens as a practice, after every 2 or 3 years so that they can have a strong hive because the queen’s ability to lay eggs reduces with age and as she advances in age she becomes more and more sluggish.
However, for a normal person who has nothing to do with bees, there is no justification for killing a queen bee especially when you have no experience with bees. Trying to kill a queen bee is bringing tragedy on yourself. But with sufficient knowledge and good reasons you can.
The only time it is okay to kill a queen bee is when there is a hive near your home posing a danger to you, your children or even pets. In such a case, the best way to eliminate the hive is to kill the queen.
Given the crucial role that the queen plays in the hive, of laying eggs to ensure the colony survives, killing her will break the reproductive cycle of the hive and lead to the extinction of the hive.
But you should do this with a lot of care. You should use the right material to kill the queen and also be well protected, otherwise, if you fail in your attempt and make the whole colony angry, you will have yourself to blame when you are attacked by thousands of bees.
How to Get Rid Of a Queen Bee
Honey bees do not pose any structural damage to your house if they happen to have made a home anywhere in your house. Carpenter bees are the ones that bore into the wood.
Although they will not damage the wood, they can pose a serious threat to you and your loved ones forcing you to find ways to get rid of them.
The easiest way of getting rid of a honey bee colony is to kill its queen. Removing the queen is similar to removing the bee’s life source, for she is the egg-laying machine of the hive.
Getting rid of the queen bee is not an easy feat, and it is best to leave it to professionals or experienced beekeepers. Nonetheless, it is not impossible for a normal person to do it.
Here are possible ways that you can employ if you want to kill the queen and ultimately get rid of the colony of bees near your home.
- Spraying insecticide
Aerosol sprays are toxic to bees. Spraying into the hive will kill the bees including to the queen bee. But you should be well protected when doing this. It is best to do it at night when all the bees are in the and not as active as during daytime. But make sure any honey is removed before spraying to avoid contaminating it.
- Trapping the queen
You can use a trap purchased from any local hardware store to trap the bees. But the trapping may take time, often stretching to a number of weeks and there is no guarantee that you will capture all the bees. But it is a safer option.
- Hiring a professional
The best option of course is to engage a professional. Although you may need to part with some cash to pay them, it saves you from the danger of being stung and also they will help avoid another colony from making a home in the same hive by removing even the hive altogether. Better still, they can get rid of the bees in a safe way such that they will transfer them to a new home without having to kill the queen and her colony.