Saturday, May 7, 2011

Swollen Bee Stings

A honey bee that is away from the hive foraging for nectar or pollen will rarely sting, except when stepped on or roughly handled. BUT honey bees will actively seek out and sting when they perceive the hive to be threatened, often being alerted to this by the release of attack pheromones.

In the past few weeks we have gone through the hives several times, and each time Scott has been stung.

Once to the forehead. Look at that right eye. Like a bruiser he swung but missed - the bee won. He was super stoic with minor whines..

And again one more time to the ankle. Left ankle normal. Right ankle oddly enlarged. But Scott was still active on it...although pulling a sock over the width was tough so he stuck a pin in it...fsssssss

This is how it works:
The stinger is barbed so that it lodges in the victim's skin, tearing loose from the bee's abdomen and leading to its death in minutes.
The bee's sting is speculated to have evolved for inter-bee combat between members of different hives. 

The sting's injection of apitoxin into the victim is accompanied by the release of alarm pheromones, a process which is accelerated if the bee is fatally injured. Release of alarm pheromones near a hive or swarm may attract other bees to the location, where they will likewise exhibit defensive behaviors until there is no longer a threat.......MORE adventures in beekeeping to come.........

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