I experienced the weirdest thing today, at least to me. Gardening in my own backyard, (for a change) I felt a sting on my left ankle. I yelled (it hurt!) and shooed away a fat bumblebee as I don’t like to harm bees. It rewarded me by coming back and stinging me again. In the same ankle! I was unaware the bees can sting repeatedly.
I retreated out of my backyard thinking I had disturbed a nest or something, but the darn bugger follwed me, stinging me again even though I was now 50 feet away. Once again I yelled “ouch” (don’t believe that) and ran up the slight incline to my front yard with the bee in pursuit. It was quicker than I and stung me a fourth time!
I now have two stings on each ankle! The small red spot at the bottom is a recovering bug bite I got at the cottage. My poor ankles are taking a beating…
I bet I will someday think this was funny; if I had a video of the episode I’m sure I looked and sounded very funny. Lucky for me that I am not allergic to bee stings.
That was enough gardening for today.
Instead, I came into the house and visited Mr Google looking for information on why bees might attack or at least sting repeatedly. I have been stung repeatedly before, (lucky me!) so am aware it is possible, I just want to know why me? After all, I’m the one that wears the “Save the Bees“ t-shirt and purchased bumblebee necklaces for my granddaughters.
Back to the research…
I came across this article that says that bees recognize human faces! If that’s the case, I might be doomed…my backyard is not that big!
And another article that says angry bees produce higher quality venom that may help in the treatment and study of osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease. Maybe I should go donate blood as this guy (I am assuming it was the same one stinging me repeatedly) was obviously angry.
Well, the swelling and the pain has subsided. When hubby arrived home from work I sent him out to the backyard to check for nests in the lawn or garden. He found nothing.
Can bees sting you more than once? They sure can, do and did; I have proof! Yesterday I was creating a planter for my front veranda of ornamental grasses and kale. I had put the planter on the lawn to avoid making too much of a mess on the veranda. I saw a bee in the adjacent garden, but didn’t pay it too much attention. When I lifted the completed arrangement up to carry it onto the veranda, I felt a sharp, prickly sensation on my upper leg, just above the hem line of my shorts. Thinking it was just a piece of plant material, (ornamental grasses can be sharp) I sort of brushed at it. (my hands were full) I then felt a second similar sting, so I set the pot down and checked my leg. A fat, fuzzy bee was latched on to my leg, working on a third sting!
I was always under the impression that bees only sting once then die. So, I googled the question; this is what I discovered:
Queen and worker bumblebees can sting. Unlike in honeybees, a bumblebee’s sting lacks barbs, so the bee can sting repeatedly without injuring itself; by the same token, the sting is not left in the wound. Bumblebee species are not normally aggressive, but may sting in defence of their nest, or if harmed.
I guess that was a bumblebee then, definitely a bee (she was fuzzy and fat) and not a wasp or a honeybee. I say “she” because I also learned that only the females sting. This picture shows the difference is their appearance…
The bumblebee bites/stings were quite distinct on my leg within seconds. I didn’t think to take pictures until today, 24 hours later. What is amazing (to me) is that the leg is still very sore, swollen and hot even though the sting marks themselves are no longer obvious.
I may go back to the scene of the crime to see if there is a bumblebee nest in that corner of my garden. I did some research on the subject, so now know what to look for. I will not harm the nest if I discover one, just want to be aware of its location to keep my grandchildren away.
What a beautiful fall day to spend some time in my favorite reading spot: my front veranda…
The purple aster you can see in front of the veranda has been loaded with big, fat bumblebees these past few weeks, doing their best to pollinate Kanata. This veranda faces south and is protected by a garage on the east side and the house on the north side, so even on a cold winter day, if the sun is shining, this becomes a nice warm reading spot..