A: All bees may increase their venom production when they are hot and sweaty. While a bee’s heart rate increases, this does not mean that they have increased activity levels, nor that they will attack people. Bees have the ability to regulate the amount of venom released from glands in their hypopharynx region. The most important thing for any person who interacts with honeybees is to learn what to do if stung by a bee. In general, individuals should avoid being bitten by bees as it can lead to an allergic reaction or result in death from complications related to anaphylactic shock. For more information about how you can protect yourself from stinging insects contact your local apiary inspector or visit a website such as www.beeinformedconsumers.com/protecting-yourself-from-stings/.
Q: What causes honeybees (and other pollinators) to sting?
A: Honeybees use their barbed stingers as part of one of nature’s most ingenious defense mechanisms—the process of maintaining order within the colony by preventing usurpation and murder. Honeybees sense danger either through behavioral cues or chemical signals emitted by other members of the colony. If threatened, adult workers become agitated and release alarm pheromones into the air which send out visual and olfactory signals instructing others present on site about potential danger; these signals then converge at specific locations where incoming scouts analyze them before