There are stinging insects and biting insects, but they rarely have both. Are bumblebees an exception to this natural law? We know that bumblebees bite flowers while gathering nectar or supplies for their nests.
Today we unravel the mystery of whether bumblebees use their stings as a defense mechanism, and if so, what is the damage?
Do Bumblebees Sting Or Bite?
Bumblebees are known to sting just like honeybees and other bees. The Queen and Workers have an improved spawning tool that has hardened and is now used for stabbing. Their stinger is their primary defense option in the event of a threat or intruder.
Bumblebee stings can be painful, although not as painful as other bees. The stinger is smooth, rarely sticks to the skin, and can sting multiple times.
Bumblebees, on the other hand, don’t have mouths full of teeth, so it’s hard to imagine them biting. These bees feed primarily on pollen, nectar and honey, which they eat with their tongues.
They have small pores on the back of their tongues that are covered with hair. When they eat or collect food, tiny molecules that stick to receptor cells pass through. Bumblebees can taste and smell it.
They also have something called a mandible. These are the mouthpieces that other bees (such as carpenter bees) use to burrow into wood.
So the bumblebee has a biting tool, but it doesn’t really do much damage because that part is a little weak. This means that if a hornet bites you, you probably won’t feel anything.
Why Do Bumblebees Bite?
While bumblebees don’t like to bite, in some cases they may use their mouths as a tool.
When Collecting Nectar?
Most bumblebee species have very long tongues, some as long as 0.78 inches. They use these tongues to burrow into flowers to extract nectar.
However, there are some bumblebee species, such as bumblebees, which have short tongues and thus cannot access nectar. Instead, they bite the bottom of the flower and suck out the nectar. This extraction method is commonly known as “grabbing nectar”.
A bee pierces or bites a hole near a nectar gland in a flower. This method won’t harm the flowers, unless of course the bees get it wrong. Other bees or insects collecting nectar may use the same holes as bumblebees.
This process is time-consuming and it takes the bees some time to complete the holes.
This also proves that biting the skin will only make people feel itchy.
The problem with this approach is that the bees don’t pollinate the flowers in exchange for their precious nectar. Since the bumblebee never enters the flower, it does not come into contact with the reproductive parts, but only ingests the nectar, hence the name.
Other bumblebees may also use this method on certain flowers that otherwise would not be able to reach the nectar at all.
When Cleaning The Nest?
Again, this is not a defense mechanism, but they use mouthparts as a tool. Bumblebees live in small nests, mostly in old burrows underground, compost piles or even under sheds. Their nests are not as neat as bee hives, but they still take steps to prevent the spread of disease.
Bumblebees don’t live long, and their workers may die in the nest. Other workers would quickly grab them and drag them out of the entrance. This is mainly to avoid parasites and other diseases that easily infect bee carcasses.
Are Bumblebees Aggressive?
No, bumblebees are not aggressive. They have a short lifespan and spend most of their time foraging and pollinating, which is very beneficial to us.
Bumblebees only sting when provoked, such as stepping on their nest, sticking a stick in it, or trying to catch a bee. Males are less harmful. They don’t have spines and aren’t known to bite, but it’s best to leave them alone.
Do Bumblebees Drill Holes In Log Cabins?
This is extremely unlikely. As mentioned earlier, bumblebees have very soft jaws compared to other species, so they cannot dig tunnels in wood, although they are happy to use pre-drilled wood for their home.
Bumblebees are usually not even good at building their own nests. Queens will look for nearby supplies, so all she has to do is drag them a few inches.
If you have bees in your home and you hear a faint sound of drilling, it could be a carpenter bee. They look very similar to bumblebees, but they have rougher jaws that burrow easily into wood.
Bumblebees can do a lot of things, even bite people, but bumblebees’ bites are so soft that humans can’t feel them. That’s probably why it’s not their main line of defense. However, when they cannot reach the nectar, they bite the flowers.
Bumblebees are gentle and will not attack without provocation. If you see bees flying in and out of woodwork in your home, they may be carpenter bees, which look a lot like bumblebees.