Bees: The Sting

No one likes to get stung by a bee and, now that it’s spring, you’ll be seeing a lot more of them. But not every bee stings. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

“Many people ask what kind of bees are likely to sting you and what kinds are not.”

Jerome Rozen is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History.

“First of all, only female bees sting so that the male bees, you can pick them up with your fingers anytime. And if you were to grab a female carpenter bee she’s going to sting you. But if you grab a male carpenter bee then you’ll have a wonderful time at cocktail parties if they’re held outdoors.”

Of course, it’s best not to try this trick unless you’re very sure you know how to tell the difference.

“The secret is to know that male carpenter bees have a nice white little spot on the front of their face and it’s very easy to identify it. Whereas females are all black. So any big carpenter bee that you see flying around if it has a white spot in the middle of its face, between its eyes, it’s a male. Also, since male carpenter bees do not carry pollen, and females do carry pollen, if you see a carpenter bee carrying pollen, you know it’s going to be a female.”

And if there’s a huge swarm of bees chasing after you, the odds are there’ll be enough females in the group to make their presence felt.

“Another way a person can be bothered is if he or she is stung by a great many individuals at a single time. This is why honeybees are particularly dangerous because there can be twenty thousand worker bees in a single hive and if even half of them come out and sting a person, that person probably won’t survive.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series is provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Bees: The Sting

Only female bees sting, but can you tell the difference between the sexes?
Air Date:05/21/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

No one likes to get stung by a bee and, now that it's spring, you'll be seeing a lot more of them. But not every bee stings. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

"Many people ask what kind of bees are likely to sting you and what kinds are not."

Jerome Rozen is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History.

"First of all, only female bees sting so that the male bees, you can pick them up with your fingers anytime. And if you were to grab a female carpenter bee she's going to sting you. But if you grab a male carpenter bee then you'll have a wonderful time at cocktail parties if they're held outdoors."

Of course, it's best not to try this trick unless you're very sure you know how to tell the difference.

"The secret is to know that male carpenter bees have a nice white little spot on the front of their face and it's very easy to identify it. Whereas females are all black. So any big carpenter bee that you see flying around if it has a white spot in the middle of its face, between its eyes, it's a male. Also, since male carpenter bees do not carry pollen, and females do carry pollen, if you see a carpenter bee carrying pollen, you know it's going to be a female."

And if there's a huge swarm of bees chasing after you, the odds are there'll be enough females in the group to make their presence felt.

"Another way a person can be bothered is if he or she is stung by a great many individuals at a single time. This is why honeybees are particularly dangerous because there can be twenty thousand worker bees in a single hive and if even half of them come out and sting a person, that person probably won't survive."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series is provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.