Can bees sting you more than once?

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.

Wikipedia

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…

can bees sting more than once
left to right: honeybee, bumblebee and wasp

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.

Asters, butterflies and bees, oh my!

Tis the season for asters, butterflies and bees in our zone 4 gardens here in Ottawa.  I am seeing lots in my GARDENS4U clients’ as well as my own gardens. These perennials make a beautiful splash of color in the fall when others have finished showing off.  Growing up to five feet tall, and preferring full sun conditions, their upright, strong stalks are covered in bright green foliage and small pink or purple flowers that the butterflies and bees just love…

 

Asters, butterflies and bees asters, butterflies and bees asters, butterflies and bees

 

Asters are easy to grow, and require little to no maintenance. I cut mine back after flowering, but this is not necessary. They also seem immune to bugs and disease.  If your gardens are lacking color this time of year, consider adding some asters.  The butterflies and bees will thank you!

Ornery wasps

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This picture was posted on my other blog recently as a joke.  This week it’s not so funny, but much more meaningful, and is part of the motivation behind this post.  The other part is the fact that I have been stung by a wasp twice in the last 4 days.

I was not sure if wasps are particularly ornery this time of year or they are attracted to my newest pair of red garden gloves.  I did a bit of research; this is what I found out…

wasps, and bees too, are more aggressive in the fall because by this time of year their living spaces are crowded.  They are also extra protective of their hives as they prepare their queens for the upcoming winter.  Know too that wasps, unlike bees that die after one sting, can (and do!) sting multiple times.

Wasps are attracted to the colors white and yellow, but like most insects, cannot actually see the color red.  I guess that lets out my red garden gloves theory. They did sting me right through the red gloves.

I usually blow gently on a nearby wasp to send it on its way (away from where I am working) rather than kill it.   I must admit though, these two wasps that stung me recently got smucked as I yelled out several curse words.  Man, those stings sting!  I read too that plain old vinegar applied to a sting will reduce the swelling and the sting.  I tried that, it helped a bit, but it took 3 days to get rid of one sore finger; the other hand is still swollen and itchy.

Believe it or not, wasps are good for something.  Like bees, they pollinate flowers and crops.  They also eat detrimental insects including ticks and houseflies.  Another good point is that if you have seen an increased number of wasps and bees recently, they are not ready to hibernate, meaning winter is still a good ways off.

Another interesting fact is that if you kill a wasp, especially if you crush it, its body releases a pheromone that attracts other wasp encouraging them to attack.

So, beware of the ornery wasps and bees as you get your garden work done this fall.

 

 

Noises of a bumblebee

As I was tending to a garden recently, I looked up when I heard a strange sound coming from a nearby rose bush…

this chubby bumblebee was not making his usual buzzing sound, but more of a squeaking sound, as he worked his way into and around this rose.  The typical buzzing sound is caused by the vibration of a bumblebees flight muscles, but I am not sure what the squeaking sound meant.

Perhaps his muscles were a little rusty due to the heavy rain we have been receiving.  Or maybe this particular bumblebee is a senior citizen with arthritis, he sounded much like my ankles in the mornings LOL

No Shortage of Bees in Kanata

I read somewhere recently that bees are a dying breed because of insecticide use.  That’s just not true here in Ottawa’s suburb of Kanata!  Every garden I have worked in this summer has had lots of bees, in fact I have been stung a few times.   For example, look carefully at this sedum; it’s loaded with bees…
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Tomorrow I have to figure out a way to move seven of these plants in a garden I am working on this week without getting these bees upset. The plan is to aim a hose at the plant from a distance to gently move the bees from one plant at a time so I can dig out the plant.   I am not sure what I will do when I get to the last plant full of bees!