Description: Common beeBees are flying insects with brown or black, hairy, fuzz-covered bodies (the hair on their body is used to collect pollen). The bee’s body typically has 3 or 5 dark, black and yellow or orangish, colored hair bands around their body and lack the “thin” abdomen found in hornets and wasps.  Bees have two pairs of wings with the rear pair being smaller than the front pair.  They have brushes of hair on their hind legs, hair on their backs, and less hair on their stomachs.  Their stinger is located at the end of the abdomen and is attached to a venom sac.  Only the “worker bees” have stingers (the Queen bee has the same stinger appendage but it is used to lay eggs rather than sting).

Bees feeding on flower nectorBees are most often found in colonies and many build wax combs.  There are over 20,000 known species of bees.

The bee larvae is typically a legless, white grub.

Africanized bees or “killer bees” are practically indistinguishable from regular bees but are much more aggressive and prone to attack in order to defend their territory.  Killer bees attack in swarms and can chase a victim for 500 yards of more.

If you run across an active bee hive, keep quiet.  Bees can detect noise and human odor.  Do not operate machinery near the hive and move away quickly (and quietly).

BeeIf attacked by a swarm of bees, run.  While running, protect your eyes, nose, and mouth by covering your face with your hands leaving just enough space to see.  Killer bees typically attack the face and while a person can survive 200-400 stings, a sting in the respiratory areas can cause swelling and make breathing difficult.  Do not swat at the bees.  They are attracted to movement and when crushed, emit an odor that other bees can use to track you.  Do not jump in water as the bees will simply wait above the water for you to resurface.

Bee stinging a human. Note the stinger embedded in the skin and the stinger tearing away from the Bee's bodyAfter the attack, quickly remove stingers from the skin by scraping them off.  When a bee stings, the stinger is torn from its abdomen (and the bee eventually dies) and remains embedded in the skin.  The torn-off stinger will continue to release poison for a few minutes after the attack.  Using your fingers or tweezers to remove the stingers squeezes the stinger and causes it to release more poison.  Scrap the stingers off using your fingernail, knife, or hard piece of plastic (e.g. credit card).  More information on treating bee and wasp stings, including natural remedies that may be found in the wild, may be found here.

Habitat: Bee wingsBees live in any environment that that contains insect pollinating flowering plants.  They are found all over the world.  The prefer hollow trees, caves, dwellings or areas near water in desert areas.

Distribution: Worldwide.

NOTE: Bees have barbed stingers and die after stinging because their venom sac and internal organs are pulled out during the attack.

A bee colony

Anatomy of a Bee

Bee in flight

Close-up of Bee head