A Worker Bee that is out gathering nectar is not likely to sting, but if she is at the hive, and feels the hive is being threatened, she will attack and sting. If honey bees feel their hive is threatened, they will often emit “attack” pheromones. These pheromones will signal other worker bees to join in the attack.
The stinger on a honey bee is barbed and will lodge in the skin of its victim. Once lodged, the bee’s abdomen will be ripped from its body and cause the stinging bee to die within minutes. The Honey Bee is the only species of Bee’s to die after stinging. The sting injects apitoxin (a bitter colorless liquid) in its victim, and also releases more “alarm” pheromones at the site. If you are stung, beware because there are likely more bees coming. The bee can inject approximately 0.1mg of venom through its stinger. The active portion of the bee venom is a complex mixture of proteins which causes inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant. Apitoxin is similar to snake venom and nettle toxin.
The main component of bee venom is the toxin melittin (a strong anti-inflammatory agent); histamine and other biogenic amines may also contribute to pain and itching.
If you are stung by a honey bee, it is important to remove the stinger as soon as possible. This will reduce the amount of venom that is being injected. Once the sting has been removed, apply “ice” to help reduce pain and swelling.
A normal reaction to a bee sting would be itching and swelling that may last for up to a week and cover an area of 3 to 4 inches. For approximately 1 - 2 per cent of people, anaphylactic shock from certain proteins in the venom can be life-threatening and will require emergency treatment by a trained physician. This type of allergic reaction will force many to carry “epinephrine” in the form of an EpiPen just to be safe. Speak to your Doctor if you are concerned that you may be allergic to bee stings.
At the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food meeting on December 8, 2009, the committee recommended that the government follow in the footsteps of the Province of Saskatchewan and the over 40 Municipalities across Canada that have issued proclamations declaring May 29, 2010, as the Day of the Honey Bee.
In the 16th century, Conquering Spaniards found that the natives of Mexico and Central America had already developed beekeeping. A distinct family of stingless bees (not true honey bees) was native to these regions.
European settlers introduced European honey bees to New England in about 1638. North American natives called these honey bees the "white man's flies." Honey was used to prepare food and beverages, to make cement, to preserve fruits, to concoct furniture paste-polish and varnish and for medicinal purposes.