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    There are approximately 25,000 species of bees worldwide, 4,000 of which are living in the United States. Some bees, such as honey bees and bumble bees, live in social colonies, but most are solitary. Bees play a large ecological role and are important for many processes in nature. Despite their prevalence, there are many misconceptions about bees and their stings. Knowing these few basic bee facts should dispel the myths and help you better understand bees and how to appreciate and respect them.

    Does harvesting honey endanger bees?

    No. Provided that it is done sustainably, which is to leave enough honey for bees to survive during the winter, there is no risk to the bees from taking honey. Bees are incredibly hard workers and will continue to produce honey far in excess of the amount that they will required, simply because the food source is available. Responsible Beekeepers, such as the ones that Neighborhood Hive partners with, go to great lengths to ensure that they maintain a symbiotic partnership with the bees.

    Can all bees sting?

    Not all bees can sting. For example, male bees cannot sting. The stinger, or sting, is a modified egg-laying device, therefore only females have them. However, despite having a stinger, the females of many bee species actually won’t sting. Bees tend to sting to defend their nest, so most bees won’t attack unless they are provoked or feel threatened. So, let the bees be! 

    Do honey bees can sting their victim repeatedly?

    Honey bee workers can sting other insects repeatedly. However, the barbs in their stingers get caught in the skin of animals, especially thick-skinned mammals such as humans. Removal of the stinger is fatal to the bee, so it dies afterward.

    Are bee stings always dangerous, or even fatal?

    If you’re not allergic to bee stings, the average person can tolerate 10 stings per one pound of body weight. Most adults can tolerate more than 1,000 stings. 500 stings may be fatal for children. Consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns about bee stings. Although bee stings can be deadly to people who are allergic to them, fatal bee stings are very rare. From 1999 to 2007, the Centers for Disease Control reported 509 deaths from wasps, hornets or bees stings, and less than 1% of children and 3% of adults are prone to anaphylaxis, the often deadly allergic reaction some experience in response to a sting.

    Are wasps and bees the same?

    Although wasps belong to the same order of insects, they are not bees. Bees are vegetarians, collecting pollen and nectar for their young. Wasps are carnivores, and some species can be very aggressive, especially if you disturb their nests. Bees are usually non-aggressive, with the exception of Africanized bees, a species not commonly found in the United States.

    Are the people who are allergic to wasp stings also allergic to bee stings?

    Bee stings produce different toxins than wasp stings. Therefore, someone may be allergic to bee stings but not wasp stings, or vice versa.

    Can bee stings be used to cure arthritis symptoms?

    There isn’t enough scientific evidence to support this claim, though bee venom has been given as a shot for rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain (neuralgia), multiple sclerosis (MS), swollen tendons (tendonitis), and conditions such as fibromyositis and enthesitis. For those people who are allergic, venom immunotherapy has been offered in order to desensitize the severity of the reaction of future stings.

    Do all bees produce honey?

    Less than 5% of bee species make honey. Only honey bees and stingless bees produce enough honey to make it worth harvesting. Though, bumble bee hives may have a small amount (one to two teaspoons). Bumble bees are annual, not perennial, so they don’t need to produce a lot of honey to survive the winter.

    Do most bees live in hives?

    Only social bees live in hives. 10% of bee species are social, and only a small percentage of them build hives. Most bees are solitary, living in individual nests, tunneled in the soil or in tree trunks.

    Are bees hard workers?

    Honey bees, bumble bees, and stingless bee worker bees (females) work very hard. However, many males don’t do any work inside the nest. Also, females of the solitary bee species may only work for a couple weeks, given their short lifespan.

    Do adult bees live a long time?

    Solitary bees live only a few weeks, just long enough to mate, build nests, and produce offspring. Honey and bumble bee workers and males live about six weeks. The workers spend half of their time working on the hive and the other half foraging for pollen and nectar. The queens live longer. Bumble bee queens can live up to one year, and honey bee queens can live up to four years.