Can bees sting other bees

Can Bees Sting Other Bees?

Have you ever been stung by a bee? The majority of the people around the world have been stung by a bee at least once in a lifetime. A human getting stung by a bee sounds normal to one’s ear; even if we talk about an animal, being stung by a bee seems normal. But have you ever wonder about bees stinging other bees? It sounds both funny and interesting, right?

But before we move towards this discussion, let us first discuss bee stings and few major things about bees that might help you understand bee stings better, including their ability to sting other bees.

What is a Bee Sting?

What is a bee sting, and how does it feel to be stung by a bee? The answer to this major question will help you understand the bee’s ability to sting other bees.

bee sting finger
Bee Sting; Source: Wikipedia

So, a bee sting is mainly a wound that results when a female worker bee puts her stinger inside a victim’s skin. The sting normally feels like an injection. However, sometimes it may also worsen, especially if you are being stung by hard stingers like wasps, etc. Moreover, the sting intensity and how bad it feels high depends on the type of bee.

So, generalizing it for all the bees will give an inaccurate result. Bees don’t sting unless you give them a reason to. They often do it only if they feel threatened or you disturb their operations. So, if you stay in your place and do not harm them, you will always be safe from getting a sting.

Do All Bees Sting?

People often associate sting with all bees. The misunderstanding that all bees sting prevails everywhere around the world unless they have proper knowledge about the bees. But the fact is that not all bees are capable of stinging. Only the female bees are blessed with this unique ability. However, even among the female bees, not all the female bees are stingers.

So, a bee’s stinging ability depends upon what type of family does the bee belongs to, along with its gender. So, next time if you hear someone generalizing stinging with all bees, correct them!

Stinging Insects

The ability of a bee to sting differs based on its type and family. Some bees have a poisonous and hard sting that turns out quite painful. But at the same time, some bees have a normal sting that resembles the feeling of injection and do not have any after-sting circumstances. But wholly depends upon which family the stinging insect belongs from.

In the following paragraphs, we have listed some major types of insects and their ability to sting.

Honey Bees

Honey bees in comb
Honey bees in comb

Honey bees are considered the most well-known type of bee.  As the name suggests, honeybees produce honey. However, they are also hard stingers. Honeybees have a special barbed stinger. The unique structure of their stingers enables them to put it inside the victim’s skin easily. However, even if the victim is being stung, the stingers stay inside the skin that causes the honeybee’s death. So, honeybees die after they sting.

Queen Bees

Queen Bee with queen care bees

Queen bees will not sting female worker bees or drone bees, they only sting other queen bees when they are young, and multiple queens were raised inside the same beehive.
Queens bees not only sting other active queens but they also sting the developing queen pupae inside of queen cells!

Sweat Bees

Halictidae or sweat bees have a metallic appearance and dark skin. The reason behind why they are called sweat bees is that they do not sting badly. If you are stung by a sweat bee, it will not hurt or feel bad.

Africanized Bees

killer bee

Africanized bees are considered one of the most dangerous types of bees. This bee has been developed after the cross-production between African bees and some types of European bees. This type of bee is also said to be the death or killer bees because the dangerous sting of thing bee can also even take lives. So, it is always suggested to stay precautious around them.



Wasps are highly aggressive stingers. They sting badly. Their wasp sting is quite painful, and if you are having sensitive skin or an allergy, you must visit a doctor after getting stung by wasps. The lifestyle of wasps resembles honeybees. Wasps also form colonies and live in hives together under the supervision of a queen bee.

Wasps are capable of stinging more than once. Their stingers have a special structure that enables them to sting more than once without damaging themselves. That’s why wasps are considered very bad and painful stingers because they sting continuously and more than once.


Can bumblebee sting?

Bumblebees are also one of the hard stingers. This type of bee is often found in places that have higher altitudes. Bumblebees form colonies and live together like honeybees. Bumblebees have highly soft and smooth stingers. With these stingers, these bees sting easily without injuring themselves. Moreover, their stingers also allow them to sting more than once.

Their unique ability to sting more than once makes them one of the bad stingers. That’s why people often get terrified after being stung by bumblebees. If you have an allergy or sensitive skin, you should visit a doctor after getting stung.

Bees Stinging Other Bees

The concept of bees stinging other bees can be quite new for most individuals. It is surprising for most people. However, bees do sting other bees. This occurs for various reasons. Sometimes, bees sting other bees to protect or guard themselves, while other times, it may also occur by mistake.

So, let us study some reasons behind this phenomenon. The following paragraphs contain a detailed discussion of this scenario. It will help you understand some reasons behind bees stinging other bees.

Can bees sting other bees
Bees stinging each other

Defending their Nests

One of the main reasons behind a bee stinging another bee is to guard and protect the nectar. This often occurs within the hives of honeybees. If you have some basic knowledge about honeybees, you will know that honeybees live in hives and form colonies. All honeybees that live in a single hive are referred to as nest-mates as they share the same nest. These nest-mates are often worker bees. All the nest-mates cooperate and feed other bees in the hive. They collect food together, build a nest, and protect each other.

However, despite bringing nectar in their hives, the worker bees also steal nectar from other hives. Nectar is the key ingredient that is used for producing honey. But the hives have guard bees, too, to stop other bees from stealing nectar. These guards stiff all the bees and smell them to match the smell of the hive. If the smell matches, they will allow them to enter the hive. However, if the bees smell different, the guard bee will release an alarm pheromone. The alarm pheromones rapidly attract other bees in defense of their hive. they may sting to prevent them from stealing the nectar.

bees guarding the entrance
Bees guarding the entrance

Getting Mistakenly Stung

Sometimes while guarding the hives, the guard bees are unable to identify their nest-mates. They often find a mismatch between the smell. This can be due to various reasons. Sometimes, when a bee is out in search of nectar, they smell differently. This confuses the mind of guard bees, and they fail to recognize their nest-mates, and they ultimately sting them.

Therefore, it is stated that bees don’t sting other bees on purpose. Sometimes, it also happens by mistake due to their failure to identify the real threat.

Moreover, most of the time, the guard bees also let the wrong nest-mate get inside the nest because they might smell like the real nest-mates. This results in the loss of nectar that the honeybees consider highly precious as it helps produce honey. So, the guards are not always accurate. They often make mistakes while identifying the real nest-mates.

Does a Bee Die After Getting Stung by Another Bee?

As stated above, honeybees die after they sting. It is a fact that prevails everywhere. But you might wonder, what happens when a bee stings another bee, does it die? There have been numerous researches in this regard. And still, a proper theoretical understanding of this matter could not be found.

However, generally, it is said that the stinging bee always survives while the bee that has been stung dies. This is because the thumb rule about the stinging ability of honeybees does not apply here. The stinger does not stay inside the bee’s skin being stung; rather, it kills the bee being stung. This is the opposite of the fact that the honeybees die after stinging because when they sting each other, the stinging bee survives. However, proper proof of this saying has not been found yet.

Last Word

To sum up everything, bees sting only when needed. No matter if the need arises against a human, an animal, or even another bee of the same family. Unless they don’t feel threatened, they don’t harm. However, it does not mean that the bees don’t sting other bees by mistake. While performing their duty to guard the beehive, the bees most of the time sting their fellas because they fail to identify the right smell.

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