The Myth of a Honeybee Sting

May 20, 2024 Tanveer Khanam

One of the most popular illusions in India is the belief that honeybees will inevitably sting. Contrary to popular belief, honeybees do not sting humans at random. In fact, stinging is their last resort. When a honeybee stings, it leaves its barbed stinger embedded in the attacked person’s skin. This stinger is attached to the bee's abdomen, which ruptures in the process, and they die shortly afterward. Bees only sting as a defence mechanism to protect themselves or their hive.

Honeybees are generally calm creatures unless they sense a threat. A bee collecting pollen away from its hive is unlikely to be aggressive. If you encounter a bee in your garden, keep calm and gently move away to keep a distance. However, repeatedly swinging your hands to something like a paper at it, to push it away can agitate it, prompting it to send a distress signal to other bees and may sting, as a last resort.

Vasanthi Kumar, the Co-founder and Managing Trustee of STRAW India, says that she has been living with a dozen honeybee hives surrounding her apartment for over a decade. This is because a huge Peepal tree, where these bees build their hives, surrounds her top-floor apartment. According to Ms Kumar, “these bees visit this very tree year after year around the month of March and build their hives on the very same branch they built it, in the previous year. In spite of our windows being as little as six feet away from their hives, these bees have never stung my family including my dogs, even once.” That’s because “we leave them alone and do not bother them. The only precaution we take is to keep our windows closed when we switch on the room lights as they get attracted with white light. We also protect them from honey thieves.”

In Case of a Bee Sting

In case you get stung despite these precautions, it’s important to know how to handle it. If you do not have a history of insect allergies, please follow these steps:

  1. Remove the stinger with the help of a tweezer. Do not use your hands.
  2. Clean the affected area with soap and freshwater.
  3. Apply a cold compress to alleviate the pain.
  4. Do not scratch the affected area as it might risk infection.
  5. Consult your doctor, if needed.

In summary, to avoid getting stung, we must avoid disturbing the hive or engaging in activities that may be perceived as a threat. It is essential to leave them alone to ensure a harmonious relationship with we human beings and these vital pollinators. Live and Let Live!

About Us

Stray Relief and Animal Welfare (STRAW) India is a registered nonprofit /non-government organization and its focus is summed up in its motto, Animal Welfare through Education. It promotes empathy and compassion for all living beings and care for the environment by educating young people through its humane education programs and workshops.


Stray Relief and Animal Welfare (STRAW)
4th Floor, D2/2303, Vasant Kunj
New Delhi, INDIA
PIN: 110070
Email: [email protected]

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