Skip to main content

Do Queen Bees Sting?

Published on June 27th 2019
A queen  bee next to a worker
Bee expert Paula talks us through whether queen bees ever sting.
Queen bees do have a stinger, but as humans, we are unlikely to experience her venom. On the other hand, worker bees have a barbed sting which enters the skin of the victim and hooks in. As the bee tries to fly off, the barb ensures the sting remains in the skin, pulsing venom into its resting place. So as she tries to fly away, her stinger is ripped apart from her abdomen, causing her death. Queen bees do not have a barbed sting and so can sting into skin multiple times and survive.
A bee sting lodged in skin
Worker bees stings are barbed and lodge in skin
The queen's sting is reserved for other queens. When an old queen leaves a colony in a swarm, the remaining bees have to rear a new queen. To ensure success, they raise between 11 and 49 potential queens (Fell & Morse, 1984). The first queen to hatch takes immediate action. She will follow the scent of the other unborn queens and sting them through the wax cell walls. As the colony will have raised many new queens at the same time, a battle begins between hatched queens, who wrestle and sting until only one survives.
A group of bees on honeycomb
Download the free Candide App to get help and answers from a warm community of gardeners
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
It’s not always so violent. On occasions that more than one queen emerges, an agreement is made between them on who is to stay and who should leave. The leaver takes an entourage of foragers with her to form a cast swarm. Survival for the cast swarm, whose queen has not yet been fertilised, is far less likely. But with the support of a sympathetic beekeeper who can house the bees soon after swarming, survival can be ensured. Beekeepers can then be rewarded with a long living queen, and in her second year, perhaps some honey!

Related articles

A close up of a bee in a flower

Slow reads


A Week With the Bees

There were enough dry and warm spells this week for us to get outside and see how the colonies are coping. Due to the stress...
A close up of a bee coming out of a honeycomb

Slow reads


Bees in A New Home

Once a swarm of bees has arrived in their new hive, they immediately set to work building wax comb. Bees need around 8lb of...
A bee swarm in a tree

Slow reads


How To House A Swarm of Bees

May and June make up the prime swarming season of honey bees. These swarms keep beekeepers busy, either in trying to prevent...