Day 1: Stinger

Welcome to Day 1 of the Twelve Days of Honey Bees, conveniently aligned with the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Honey bees, at least if they are female, have one stinger. The stinger in Hymenoptera insects, including bees, is a modification of the ovipositor gland, and as such only appears in females. Drones, or males, have hairy butts in place of a stinger. and you can distinguish a drone from a worker by looking at their rears. It’s not a common approach, since there are other more obvious differences, but next time you look at a drone’s butt you can think of me.

A honey bee worker has a barbed stinger that embeds firmly in its prey and also kills the bee in a rather gruesome death. A honey bee queen, as well as most bees and wasps, have smooth stingers that allow them to sting multiple times. Queens are not known to sting anything but other queens, which perhaps is a good thing.

Workers and drones on comb from a top bar hives in April 2022. At the top of the image, the worker on the left has a pointed butt where her stinger is located, while the drone on the right has bigger eyes a flatter butt (and no stinger).

May you prosper and find honey.

3 thoughts on “Day 1: Stinger

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