Whether a bumblebee can sting or bite divides minds. The answer is simple: it can do both. However, bumblebees only use their mouthparts and stingers when they feel threatened.
To the point
- Bumblebees are peaceful insects
- Workers and queen carry a stinger for self-defense
- Animals best left alone
- Sting is considered dangerous only for people allergic to insects
Bumblebees (Bombus) are state-forming insects. As with bees or wasps, there is a queen, workers and drones (“males”). However, only the females have a so-called defense stinger, which is only used for defense. However, it does not get stuck like that of bees, but bumblebees can pull the stinger out again and, if necessary, sting again with it.
Are bumblebees dangerous?
The bumblebee is considered a peace-loving insect. Nevertheless, when stung, toxins enter the human body, causing allergic reactions and in any case swelling. In addition, a bumblebee sting can lead to suffocation, for example when bumblebees use their sting in the mouth and throat, as the swelling blocks the windpipe.
Tip: In summer, when drinking from opaque cups, bottles or cans, you should check in advance whether a bumblebee has gotten into the drinking vessel.
When does the bumblebee sting?
Workers sting when there is a threat to themselves or the nest where their colony resides. From the insect’s point of view, this includes scenarios such as:
- tampering with the entrance of the nest
- Closing the entrance to the nest
- taking animals in hand
However, the bumblebee may also perceive other situations as threatening, such as:
- gesticulating wildly (to scare the insect away)
- stepping on the animal (for example, in the meadow in summer)
- accidentally catching it with clothing (for example, while gardening).
However, bumblebees do not sting immediately when they feel threatened, but warn their enemies. Thus, the insect raises its middle leg to signal the warning. If this is not enough, the bumblebee starts to buzz loudly, turns on its back and stretches its abdomen with stinger towards the enemy as a threatening gesture. Once it has assumed this defensive posture, you should leave the insect alone, because the bumblebee is now ready to sting.
Note: Some bumblebees also bite hard before they sting. In addition, the mouthparts come into play when the insect gets caught in the hair.
Frequently asked questions
From when does the queen bumblebee fly?
The earliest queens fly from March. Usually, the young queen bumblebee leaves its winter quarters when temperatures are above freezing and the sun warms the ground.
As a non-allergic person, how can I treat a bumblebee sting?
For swelling, you should cool the sting and treat it with an anti-histamine ointment.
Can the sting pierce human skin?
Yes, if the bumblebee stings, then you must expect the sting to go under the skin.
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.