Why do bees die if they sting you? A simple question with a not so simple answer. To begin with, only one type of bee actually dies when it stings you. Unlike other stinging insects, the honey bee has to give up its life to defend the hive or itself. Believe it or not, there are some advantages to this strange sacrificial evolution.
The sting of the honey bee comes equipped with two barbed lances that are lodged into the skin of the subject. Interestingly honey bees do not seem to have this issue with other insects. Appearing to struggle with the tougher skin of mammals.
The disadvantage to the barbed design means that the bee is forced to die shortly after the sting is administered. When the bee is flicked away or tries to fly away the lances will remain. The digestive tract, muscles and nerves will also remain attached as the bee departs.
There is an advantage to the honey bee giving its life for the defence of the hive. Even after the Honeybee has been removed from the site of the sting the stinger itself will continue to discharge toxins directly from the venom sac. This ensures the bee causes as much discomfort as possible for his or her troubles.
This actually makes perfect sense from an evolutionary standing as the male drones cannot reproduce and are far better suited to dying in defence of the hive.
As the honey bee stings you it will also give off pheromones alerting other bees in the area. This will initiate all of the affected bees to take up an attack stance and sting anything perceived as a threat in the area.
It hurts. No, I'm kidding there's more than that but that is going to be the key message here. It hurts but if you can put up with that pain you could maybe save a honey bees life. That's right, not all honey bees will die after they sting you, by allowing the bee to wriggle its stinger out of your probably rather sore skin you give it a chance to flee with its life and insides intact. Learn more about how to behave when you get stung and Bee Sting First Aid.