Thursday, May 26, 2022

Why Bees Don’t Survive After Stinging You (and Other Cool Facts About Bees, Wasps, Hornets)

What was that on your arm a bee great not exactly a pleasant feeling painful itchy annoying scary we've all been there before so that happens because the bee jabs its barbed singer into your skin and releases some venom the venom contains proteins that cause pain and can affect your immune system and skin cells .

But that's nothing compared to what the bee has to go through poor little thing you'll be fine after a few hours but the bee not so much honey bees don't usually sting people unless they feel threatened or if you accidentally step on them the problem is that after stinging you the bee can't pull its barbed stinger out of .

Your skin the only way to get free is to leave the stinger behind the stinger though not just a sweet defense mechanism it also contains part of the bee's digestive tract nerves and muscles that are unfortunately essential for the bee to function normally so yep after losing all that this tiny creature doesn't survive .

Yikes poor little bee apart from that they're such cool animals they have five eyes two pairs of wings and six legs bees have excellent survival instincts and they've been around for a really long time 130 million years and counting who knows what ancient species they've stung most bees in the hive are called worker bees .

And the big cheese is called the queen she lays around 2 000 eggs per day sound like a lot well the average hive contains 50 000 bees and they disappear after just one sting i guess going through a painful and itchy experience doesn't actually sound that bad when you only have one bee on your arm imagine if you had the whole hive it may seem like .

Bees just aimlessly fly around or use their vision to decide where they go but these cool insects are pretty organized and rely on a super complex transport system imagine planning a cross-country road trip only this time there are no roads i can't even make it to the gym without my gps or if i stop at a burger joint on the way there .

But not bees they're way cooler than us they use bee lines well i call them that they're basically a series of insect pathways bees tend to follow through human towns or the countryside these pathways link every existing wildlife area together it's like a bee railway system my favorite bee is the buff-tailed .

Bumblebee it has an oval-shaped body covered in dense hair and a brain the size of a poppy seed considering how small it is that's really impressive how smart are they scientists made an experiment where they trained a bunch of them to play b soccer they even learned how to score a goal in return for a sweet sugary treat .

Unbelievable these same bees have another amazing ability they use their smelly footprints to distinguish between the scents of strangers their own be relatives they can even recognize their own scent bumblebees we know your dirty little secret you have smelly feet and then there's the queen bee she's unique in her colony and her main task .

Laying eggs people often assume the queen is there to tell the other bees exactly what to do yeah not really she does have a certain influence but even without her the hive actually functions pretty well each bee has a job and knows its daily functions and tasks because of its instincts and the chemical signals it senses and uses .

So i guess no one needs to tell them how to behave those chemical signals are their way of communicating oh and they know how to shake it they wiggle their bodies at specific angles for a certain amount of time that's how they send messages to each other if something happens to the queen bee .

And she doesn't survive worker bees create a new one yep they don't find one but sort of raise a new one they choose a young larva and feed the future her majesty a special food called royal jelly that lucky larva can now grow into the new queen these are fast they can beat their wings almost 200 times a second those eight .

Push-ups i can do in a minute not sounding so impressive each bee produces around one teaspoon of honey in its lifetime to produce one pound of honey these have to fly the equivalent of one whole time around the globe these hard-working animals make around 100 million trips to about 200 million flowers to collect enough nectar for .

That pound of honey honeybees sleep five to eight hours a day and just like us they rest at night their brains are pretty active when they're resting some scientists think they may be dreaming also just like us when winter rolls around a lot of insects replace their body water with a special chemical called glycerol it's a .

Type of natural antifreeze that helps them stay alive in low temperatures bees though they just huddle together in the hive to stay toasty warm ouch there's hardly a person who's never been stung by a bee it's definitely not a pleasant feeling but bees aren't normally angry creatures you probably .

Just scared the little guy these insects are super important for pollination their existence is one of the main reasons why our plants keep growing bees only sting when they feel threatened if you get stung it might mean you've come too close to them or more importantly that you've come too close to their hive .

Each hive can hold between 50 000 to 80 000 honeybees just like us humans bees do everything to protect their home but instead of alarms and complicated security systems they use their stingers to ward off enemies when honeybees sting they release something called a pheromone pheromones are chemical substances that affect the .

Behavior of animals of the same species if one bee charges at you the pheromones are likely to stir up all nearby bees and they will readily join in that's one meeting you'll definitely want to avoid here's a fun fact it's only female bees that can sting larger male drone bees don't even have stingers this is because the stinger is basically a modified .

Egg-laying device queen bees also have stingers these bees are bigger than the average worker the queen has an average size of just under one inch it's about twice the size of your regular worker bee because of its large size many people think that the queen bee's sting hurts the most so let's dive into it first of .

All queen bees rarely sting because of their job in the hive the queen is the most important bee in the colony as it's the only female that can reproduce the queen has two main jobs in the hive number one she produces chemical scents that help unify the rest of the bees so they can work together number two she lays a lot of eggs up to .

Two thousand a day the queen is surrounded by worker bees who meet her every need at all times they give her food the attendant workers also collect and then distribute the queen's pheromones which stops the workers from finding a new queen but despite being the head of the hive and being much bigger than other bees .

The queen's sting is actually the least painful this is because regular bees have barbed stingers this means that when they attack the stinger gets stuck in your skin making it really difficult to remove the stinger also contains nasty venom that's packed with proteins that's what causes the pain and affects your immune .

System and skin cells the stinger continues to pump venom into your body for more than 10 minutes or until it gets removed but unlike workers queen bees leave the hive very rarely their main job is to lay eggs and it's down to the rest of the colony to protect the hive and the queen that's why worker bees are the .

Ones with the most powerful sting this is how they can ward off potential dangers the only reason the queen would really need to defend herself is against rival queens because of this the queen has no need to develop a nasty stinger hers is instead a lot smoother this means that the barbs don't get stuck in your skin which can .

Be mega uncomfortable while this might sound good it does come with a bit of bad news because of the smoothness of its stinger the queen can jab you multiple times the stinger is attached to the bee's digestive tract nerves and muscles all of which are essential for the bee to function normally when workers sting .

They're unable to pull their stinger out because of the barbs and when they try to get free it doesn't end well for them but the queen stinger doesn't get stuck that's why the bee doesn't feel any negative consequences and still she'll basically only sting you if she doesn't have one of her bodyguards nearby which is highly unlikely .

So what's the worst place to be stung by a bee a man called michael smith decided to find out he got stung on 25 different body parts and rated each prick on a pain scale between 1 and 10. he found out that the most tender area was the nostrils scoring a 9 out of 10 followed by the upper lip which he estimated as an 8.7 the three least painful locations .

Were the skull middle toe tip and upper arm all of these scored a 2.3 but moving back to the queen how does a regular bee gain this title the queen bee rarely needs replacing as she can live for a whopping five years at the same time a worker bee born in the summer usually only survives for about six weeks .

But if the queen passes away or moves to another hive the colony needs to replace her doing this requires something called royal jelly which nurse bees produce in their heads they feed it to newly hatched honey bee larvae it's basically a superfood that contains loads of useful stuff including vitamin b proteins hormones and sugars .

After feeding baby bees for three days workers select just a few larvae and continue giving them the royal jelly the others will have a less nutritional diet the royal jelly triggers new phases of development for these growing bees and one of the most important is growing special organs they need to lay eggs but people still don't fully understand how .

This process works some scientists say that it's not the royal jelly itself that causes a bee to turn into a queen they think it's the exclusion of other natural plant-based chemicals from the queen's diet but even though we aren't 100 sure how these special bees appear we do know why there's just one queen in .

The end when the first queen emerges she searches for the other bees who've been fed the same royal jelly and then she wipes out the competition if several queens emerge at the same time it's time to grab your popcorn they'll hunger games it out in a dramatic fight until only one remains .

And that's how bees get their queen you're trembling drops of sweat are dripping down your face your frightened eyes look up watching a big flying bug the asian giant hornet the size of a thumb is hovering above you it's one of the most dangerous insects on the planet and not just because its sting looks like a needle this insect can cause a .

Real economic crisis all over the world and lead to the mass extinction of many species of living creatures on earth but we can speak about it later because now it's going to sting you the sting of the giant hornet is one of the most dangerous and painful among insects you're about to find out what happens to the human body after the sting pierces .

The skin there's no point in running the hornet will catch up with you anyway it flies around you you hear a strange crackling sound the hornet flicks its jaws to scare you and keep you at a distance after a couple of seconds it attacks the hornet stings you right in the shoulder oh it doesn't care about your clothes the stinger can pierce .

Through a thick layer of fabric and even a beekeeper's protective clothing you need a special suit similar to a space suit to be protected from the hornet unfortunately you don't have one in the beginning you feel as if a red-hot needle is piercing your body through this needle the hornet injects poison into your skin the substance dilates the .

Walls of the blood vessels around the bite which makes your skin turn red your body fights the foreign substance and sends out immune cells but the venom destroys your defense cells causing your skin to swell the infected blood is filtered out by your kidneys the poison contains a substance that is toxic to this organ .

But your kidneys don't bother you as much as your shoulder the bite site is swollen and red it's burning the swelling can last from hours to days it's only one hornet but it can sting you 10 times just imagine what would happen if you stirred up a nest you would have to hide in dense bushes or jump in the water to escape .

And if you get stung several times you need to go to the hospital in any case you are lucky that you don't have severe consequences people with allergies should stay away from giant hornets the sting can be catastrophic for their bodies to avoid coming across these monsters stay away from their nest you can hear an alarming buzzing sound from .

Afar asian giant hornets are aggressive and will sting anyone who walks past their nest authorities always get rid of their nests if they appear within city limits but not only to stop them from attacking people but also to prevent the apocalypse and here's how it can happen one of the asian giant hornet's favorite .

Things is attacking beehives they fly far away from the nest and when they find a hive they mark it with a unique pheromone the smell attracts other hornets and even a small group of them can completely destroy the hive about 20 hornets can wipe out about 30 000 bees imagine the damage that thousands of .

Hornets could do this is the main danger they present by transferring pollen between flowering plants bees help them grow breed and produce food bees pollinate plants that cows and other livestock eat thanks to bees we have cotton growing if .

Hornets wipe out bees there would be a worldwide shortage of cotton clothing simple t-shirts jeans and jackets would become more expensive and sooner or later disappear from the markets many berries and fruits may lose their rich taste and vitamin content this could lead to a lack of vitamins not only in animals but also in humans .

So you won't be able to put on your jeans and favorite shirt and go to a restaurant for a juicy burger eggplants hot peppers kiwis blueberries cranberries and other products would disappear from the stores entire species of animals would stop existing along with the plants .

This would lead to an even greater crisis not only in agriculture but also in the world economy imagine dominoes falling one by one that's what it would look like along with this the number of hornets would increase there are almost no animals in the world that could control the growth of the .

Hornet population if people do nothing everyone would have to wear thick protective suits to walk outside hornets would infiltrate homes and cars and sting people and pets of course people are aware of this danger and take all possible measures to control the population of hornets unfortunately bees can't protect .

Themselves their sting can't harm hornets bees are much smaller so they're completely defenseless but one bee species has developed a fantastic way to resist hornets meet the japanese honeybee as soon as a giant hornet enters their hive they instantly attack it covering the enemy with their bodies once the .

Hornet is trapped in this dense living cocoon the bees begin to vibrate their shaking is so fast that they just burn the hornet after that the bees discard the much larger insect and go about their business well the strategy is effective for one hornet but what if many of them appear most likely bees won't be able to cover all enemies .

Besides japanese bees can't teach other bees how to fight hornets fortunately humans control the giant hornet population all hornets belong to the wasp family and among them the asian hornet is not the creepiest insect how about a wasp that can turn other living things into zombies .

Spider-manipulating wasps can do that this tiny insect lives in rain forests it flies between trees holding an egg most of the day and looks for the perfect host this host will later take care of the offspring the sound you hear when bees aren't around doesn't come from their mouths you hear it because they're beating .

Their wings while flying really fast when they're in the air their wings make vibrations the human ear recognizes as buzzing it's especially loud when it comes to smaller insects bigger bees have slower wing beats which means the pitch of the buzzing gets lower insects buzz to get pollen off the .

Flower as they move their bodies and wings the pollen then attaches to the bee it flies towards the next flower and deposits the pollen there this process is called pollination you will also hear buzzing when they're defending their hives or themselves especially if you get too close to a bee .

In its natural habitat this buzzing sound is like some kind of a warning to move away or get ready to face the angry bee ouch that was a painful one but hey what ouch was that another sting in that case it's not a honeybee a honeybee can only sting once when it does you can see the small stinger .

Protruding on your skin once that's done the bee can no longer pull the stinger back out since the stinger has nerves muscles and is part of the bee's digestive tract the bee doesn't survive yellowjackets are a type of wasp that doesn't have such a problem they will sting you multiple times as much as .

Possible unlike plenty of bees yellow jackets have a stinger without a barb it's no fun being around them or running into their nests which provides home to thousands of jackets or up to 50 000 in just one summer they don't produce the buzzing sound like bees either that happens because of differences in their behavior .

Bumblebees and honeybees fly from one flower to another and gather pollen and nectar which is also food for the colonies if you see them flying around at grass level they're probably collecting food they'll later take to their nest yellow jackets aren't that much into flowers so they don't need to shake .

Their wings as intensively as bees they don't transfer or collect pollen these wasps are predators that prefer spiders insects and decaying fruit if you're having a picnic with a basket full of tasty food get ready for an unwanted visit cover the food to keep them away their most active time is late summer .

And early fall jackets start their colony in the spring the lone queen does it by herself she needs to survive the harsh winter conditions first after which she lays eggs the colony then grows through spring and summer when the winter comes the old queen is done with her work so she can now pass .

The crown to the new queen that will start the next cycle none of the other wasps survive either both yellow jackets and bees have black and yellow bodies and are almost the same size bees are more hairy and chunky while yellow jackets are not that furry or fat they're more smooth and slender .

Wasps also have a waste it attaches their abdomen to the thorax the body part between the midsection and the head honey bees live in tree holes in nests bee keepers provide them with jackets prefer to make their nests in exposed pipes holes in walls old furniture or even below the ground they find some old rodent burrows and .

Often make their nests in lawns on spots with no grass so it's easier to accidentally step on them or disturb them with a lawn mower yellow jackets are way more aggressive and fierce than bees since they're predators and have a really strong instinct to protect their nests they tend to go after people for .

Violating their peace and will follow you over a long distance if necessary they'll pass all obstacles and wait for their moment if you're running away from them don't go into the water and dive in because they'll be patiently waiting for you to run out of breath to take their revenge don't run in panic waving your arms .

Around because they'll probably be faster and way more frustrated as they see you as a threat just raise your hands and protect the eyes first then slowly start moving away honeybees sting when they really don't have another choice they're not mean by their nature neither they nor wasps are hostile if they don't feel threatened .

Yellowjackets are way easier to provoke than bees when they see something they find dangerous coming towards they release certain chemicals that alert the family so they'll chase you wasps can make a nest from paper first they chew up pieces of bark and then spit it out which is how they make a paper rougher .

They all look the same to us but wasps can recognize each other by identifying unique facial patterns they all have they come in crazy colors including green blue red and orange the smallest insect in the world is a parasite wasp often called a fairy fly male wasps are blind don't have wings and they're only .

0.005 inches long there are over 30 000 species of wasps but two groups in general social wasps live in colonies and solitary wasps prefer to have their nests on their own and live alone with their young social wasps use the stingers as a way to defend themselves solitary wasps use .

Them for hunting together with the venom they have inside solitary wasps aren't into stinging people and won't go after us they help humans by taking care of insect populations on their plates mud dauber wasps are close relatives to ants the ants started out as some sort of predatory wasp themselves but ants .

Are even more related to bees than to social wasps and they all have the same family tree they have spread all over the earth's dry land populating virtually every imaginable ecosystem now it's obvious who can win a fight between a bee and a giant hornet is like a battle between a kitten and a .

Saber-toothed tiger and an army of bees against an army of hornets is like hundreds of kittens against hundreds of lions it seems the hornets will win because one hornet can destroy more than one thousand bees in less than an hour and a half but if this battle happens in real life it will be more complicated dramatic and .

Unexpected than you can imagine a group of bees works all day they pollinate plants and fruits and collect nectar from flowers they work hard and return home to the hive at the end of the day they don't notice an imposter flying among them a giant hornet it's bigger than 1b but has the same yellow black color no one pays any attention to .

It the imposter enters the bee house without an invitation and makes a crackling sound that's how its jaws snap hungry and angry it begins the feast in a matter of seconds the hornet puts the hive into chaos the hornet has a sting with toxic venom but it can go without it here for bees the monster uses its sharp jaws the hive citizens attack the .

Enemy but it doesn't feel a thing the situation is getting worse because bees can't live after using their sting they sacrifice their lives to protect their home to protect the queen unfortunately all their attempts are in vain after quenching its thirst the hornet flies away to find new prey only one bee manages to survive it .

Escapes from the hive to warn the others the bee visits every hive in the valley and reports the powerful enemy all bees start preparing to attack they're raising an army unfortunately this is not enough the giant hornet visits a new hive but this time bees are ready they attack the enemy from all sides for a moment it .

Seems bee stings are working the hornet is weakening its activity is falling the hope of victory inspires bees with confidence but not for long at this moment 10 other hornets fly into the hive the first hornet marked the hive with a unique pheromone before the battle this smell attracted its friends and now the bees have no chance .

In the wild hornets leave the trace so others can find the tagged location in a few minutes 11 hornets destroy the hive of 25 000 bees recently this sunny land was blooming thanks to bees now it has turned into a lifeless valley giant hornets don't want to spend time searching for hives so they divide into .

Groups and fly to different sides of the valley they mark bee houses with the pheromone and start a large scale cleanup their hunger and thirst for destruction are insatiable yeah bees now know their enemy and notice it as soon as a hornet appears in the air but it doesn't help in each battle they use a lot of .

Strategies to fight it once bees tried to attack a hornet hive but it was a pointless mission no one pollinates flowers anymore no one makes honey bees live in fear and are afraid to fly out of their hives in this dark hour when almost no hopes left a slight chance of victory appears a species of japanese bees learned to .

Defeat the enemy the news spread all over the hives the strategy seems to be working they've managed to fight off several giant hornets the fear goes away and the bees are ready to fight again in the real world these bees learn to fight giant hornets but other species can't do that so bees are waiting for the enemy they .

All know what to do finally a giant hornet appears hundreds of bees attack it and wrap it with their bodies from all sides they completely cover the hornet and start to tremble the simultaneous vibration of all the bees heats up the enemy the temperature is getting higher the hornet can't get out .

Bees seem to burn it with the energy of their bodies a few minutes later the giant hornet falls bees throw it out of the hive now they are confident of their victory another hornet arrives tired bees attack it and start to vibrate again the next monster is coming and another one 10 20 100 hornets arrive .

Bees don't have so many resources and energy the chances to win are zero again to win once and for all the bees must unite all the hives hundreds of millions of bees a huge lifeless meadow is the location for the final battle all the bees of the valley flock here they are ready for the last fight .

Silence ensues then the air begins to vibrate you can hear the buzzing of hornets from afar they have increased their population hundreds of times because none of the animals can resist them the defeat of bees is inevitable but no one is going to back down two swarms collide with each other this .

Is not a battle this is destruction hundreds of thousands of bees but zero hornets fall to the ground in a few minutes a whole species of insects are disappearing from the planet but what is it the field plugs into a strange fog bees and hornets don't see each other .

Then through the white veil they appear silhouettes of giant creatures they come into the middle of the action thousands of hornets attack them but it's all pointless bees quickly fall down and lose consciousness the hornets pass out too some are trying to fly away but the fog doesn't let them all insects fall asleep .

Someone use gas to stop this fight

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