Do Bees…?

Do bees vomit? Do bees talk? If you are curious and have any questions about these little creatures (Apis mellifera), don’t worry, you’re not alone! Most people know they produce honey and that they are important for our planet… There are many questions that most people are afraid to ask!

Here are the answers to questions about:

Do Bees…


 Do bees attack humans?

Yes, they have been known to do so in rare circumstances!

… always die when they sting / …always leave a stinger?

Most do, however, many beekeepers have reported that honeybees are sometimes able to ´wiggle free´ when the stinger has not penetrated deep, and the person stung remains calm and gives the bee time. Watch how bees wiggle themselves free here.

… and wasps have the same venom?

No, the venoms are different! Each have distinct major allergens that are well defined. Although both venoms contain hyaluronidases, bee venom consists of Phospholipase A2 and mellitin, and wasp venom of antigen 5. Interestingly, those allergic to wasp venom are rarely allergic to bee venom.

… and wasps fight?

Yes, they do! Bees collect nectar and pollen to feed themselves but wasps are scavengers, getting their food from killing other insects.


Do bees buzz?
Photo by Achini Kobbakaduwa:

What sounds like a buzz to us is the rapid movement of the bees wings! Some bees can beat their wings a mind-blowing 230 times a second!

… bleed?

They have no veins or arteries. What they do have is an open circulatory system, which means all their internal organ are bathed in a colorless liquid called ‘hemolymph’,  a mix of blood and lymphatic fluid.

… blink?

Bees have no eyelids so they cannot blink.

… breathe oxygen?

They do! Bees have no lungs, they breathe through a complex structure of tracheae and air sacs. Oxygen enters their body through openings on each segment of their bodies. The air is pulled in, the outermost vents close and force the air into little tubules that decrease in size until they reach the cells they need to.

…bite or sting?
A bite is when an insect uses its mouth, a sting is when an insect uses another body part like a stinger. Surprisingly, they can do both! Although it happens rarely, a bee bite must break the skin to release an anaesthetic chemical that can paralyze some small creatures but does not harm humans.


Do bees carry disease?

Bees carry viruses and bacteria, however, these are not harmful to humans, so you´re safe to consume bee products!

… come out in the rain?
Water hand photo created by tawatchai07 –

Yes, they can fly in the rain. They usually do not come out in the rain because there is a danger of being knocked down in heavy rain, while misty rain can stick to their body and hinder their flight. They usually stay in the hive until the rain subsides, however, if they are out when it suddenly starts raining, they will seek shelter until it is safe to return to their hive.

… chase you?

Oh yes, they do chase you when they are cranky! Their mood just like humans depends on various factors, such as bad weather, when the hive is checked, when they are hungry or thirsty, when there are predators, when they have a mean queen or no queen, or when they are cross bred with aggressive bees.

… clean themselves? 

Indeed they do clean themselves, and not only that, scientists have discovered that they are experts at it! Bees can shed about 15,000 pollen grains in 2 minutes using their legs to brush themselves clean!

… come back to the same nest?

The short answer is, they do not! Once they leave, they will not return, however, in some extremely rare cases other bees may move in.

Do bees drink water?
Bees drinking water Photo by Skyler Ewing:

When temperatures are hot in the summer, bees like all living beings need to drink water.

… die in the winter?

That depends. When the temperature falls below 12 °C (55 ° F) Honeybees get sluggish and die of hypothermia if their body temperature drops to about 7 °C (45 ° F). Whether or not they survive depends on how well the bees have prepared for the winter in terms of securing the hive and having plenty of honey stored. 


Do bees eat meat?

They usually do not eat meat. However, some beekeepers have observed honeybees eating meat or practice cannibalism on rare occasions. There are some types of bees, like the vulture bees that do feed on dead animals for protein.

… like peanut butter?

Bees primarily feed on nectar and pollen but they are attracted to sugars, which is why they can often been seen buzzing around sweet things that we consume. Whether they actually like it, who knows?


Do bees feel pain?

They do not feel pain in the same way as we or mammals do, but research has shown that they feel something similar (nociception) when exposed to painful stimuli or extreme heat or cold. More research is needed.

… fart?

Oh yes, bees do fart! All multicellular animals have air in all parts of their body including fecal matter. The air is mixed with the food the bee has digested and as it poops, the air is naturally expelled with it.

… fly or levitate? 
Photo by Achini Kobbakaduwa:
By Rotation

The simple answer is – both! Steve Sheppard, an entomologist who studies bees at Washington State University explains that bees don’t flap their wings up and down, they twist them in a special figure-8 pattern. This results in a combination of short, choppy rotations with incredible speed.

When bees churn their wings like this, they spin the air around them, creating a vortex that allows the bees to lift their body up, down, forward, backward, and even hover in midair.

By Vibration

Bees’ wings are activated by Resonance Frequency (RF). These extremely fast vibrations are started by one initial movement. Unlike birds brains that send a signal from the brain for every rotation of their wings, bees´ brains just send the signals intermittently. Hence, their wings beat by vibrating. This combination of vibration and rotation allows bees to move their wings very fast, which helps them beat their wings at such incredible speed.

… fly in the dark?

Honeybees do not fly in the dark but there are other types of bees, most of them tropical bees, that do.

… fly in your face?

Bees that fly in your face or around your head are giving you a warning that you are too close to their hive. Take it as a warning and run!

… fight each other?

They do in order to defend their hive, or, when attacked by another colony that is a threat to their hive.

… fall asleep in flowers? 

Yes, usually only male solitary bees that are not involved in the up-bringing of their brood. They need to find themselves a ´batchelor pad´ to sleep, and what can be more cozy than sleeping on a flower? And who knows? Maybe flower beds got their name because bees (and other insects) fall asleep in flowers?


Do bees get drunk?

Yes they do! But only in the summer, when the nectar is warmed by the sun. Honeybees in particular can easily become drunk if they drank too much of the fermented nectar. When they return home, the sober ´bouncers´at the hive do not allow the ´boozed-up´ bees inside the hive to prevent the honey inside from fermenting. This could harm the entire colony.

… get stuck in honey?

Because the honey is kept sealed in the honeycomb, bees won’t get stuck inside their hives. However, they can easily get stuck in honey even when its thin. Unless of course they have something to grasp onto to rescue themselves. They run into serious problems when the surface is too slippy or the honey too deep.

… get drunk on nectar?

See ´Do bees get drunk´

… get sick?

Yes bees do get sick! Living constantly in crowded conditions and having close body contact makes them extremely vulnerable. Also, compared to other insects, their immune system is very weak. To stay healthy they need to practice extreme hygiene and remove sick companions from the hive.

… go to sleep?

Honeybees sleep between 5 to 8 hours daily, usually resting at night. See ´Do bees sleep´

… get hot?
Bees ´Bearding´ outside the hive

If it gets too hot in the hive and the bees have no water, they can overheat so they need to cool down. To avoid this, the bees have developed an innovative system: They collect water and line up near the hive entrance. Then they fan the water so that it evaporates and the cool air is then fanned to circulate around the hive.


Another way bees keep cool is ´bearding´. This is when the bees gather outside of the hive, usually near the entrance. They form a structure that resembles a bushy beard, hence the name bearding. By doing this, the heat created by overcrowding is reduced and the airflow increases, which contributes to a cooler temperature inside.


Do bees have knees?

Yes, bees have six knees. They have a femur and a tibia in each leg so they have knees, although they do not have kneecaps.

… have hair?
Photo by Egor Kamelev:

Bees have around 3 million hairs on their body that are all strategically placed to carry pollen and to brush it off. The hair also has sensory purposes.

… have hearts?

Yes, but not like human hearts. Bees hearts run through their entire body (dorsal vessel) because they have an  open circulatory system.

… hibernate?

No, they don´t hibernate, they keep the hive warm by pumping their flight muscles.

… have ears?

No, bees have no ears but they can pick up vibrations.

… have teeth? 

They have indeed! Bees can chew although their teeth are unlike to those of humans. They have no jaws, but all bees have mandibles that have jagged ´teeth´on the end.

… have lungs?

Bees have no lungs in the conventional sense, instead they have thin-walled air sacs located in various places throughout their body that run along their tracheae. Some of these sacks are larger than others. Comparable to balloons, they expand or contract along with the bee’s need for oxygen.


Do bees inject venom when they sting?

Yes, bee venom is called apitoxin. One bee produces about 0.3 mg of venom in poison glands located in their abdominal cavity. The poison is injected by stinging. Only female bees can sting.

… intentionally sting, i.e. do they sting for no reason? 
Bee on a person – Photo by David Hablützel:

Bees only sting when they feel threatened or in defense, whey their colony is in danger. They never sting unprovoked, so the answer is ´No´.


Do bees jump?

Not in the conventional sense but the speed with which they take off when stationary may look to us as if they jump.

… just die?

Yes, bees can die due to a number of factors, like disease, starvation, pesticide poisoning, but also when their life comes to a natural end.


Do bees know they are pollinating?

Pollination works by plants enticing bees with a reward of nectar, while the bees unwittingly pollinate plants in the process. Whether they are actually consciously aware of pollinating plants is not known so far.

… know when other bees die?

It is highly doubtful that bees are aware about a fellow bee´s impending death. A Chinese scientist discovered that once a bee is dead, other bees only detect it due to the absence of CHC emissions.

… kill each other?

Yes, workers kill drones before the winter arrives as they would deplete their resources unnecessarily. They also kill the queen when she stops reproducing. When a queen dies, workers rear several new queens. The newly hatched queen will kill her unhatched rivals while they are still in their cells. If two queens hatch at the same time, they fight until one dies.

… kill flies, other insects, ants?

See ´Do bees eat meat?´


Do bees like rain?

See ´Do bees come out in the rain?´

… like humans?

Bees are smart, they can remember faces and do many other things that most of us never thought possible. In general they don´t seem to dislike humans, especially when these humans provide water. Equally, they are not keen on humans that bother or threaten them. So for bees it´s probably more a case of ¨am I safe or am I threatened¨, rather than liking humans.

like lavender, purple flowers, roses, dandelions?

Bees like lavender in bloom because it has both, nectar and pollen. They equally like roses, however, honeybees prefer single stem yellow roses because they cannot see the color red. Dandelions are popular with bees as they flower early and they have a long flowering season.


…make honey in winter?

The short answer is no! Bees survive on the honey they stored from the summer months and will not go out foresting until the first flowers appear in the springtime.

…make vegemite?

No, vegemite has nothing to do with honeybees, it is made from brewers leftover yeast, salt, malt and vegetable extract.


Honeybees are not seasonal migrators like some birds that seek a warmer climate in the winter to survive. Bees swarm, but they do not migrate.


…need to pollinate cucumbers?

Most cucumber varieties need to be pollinated. In Europe and North America thousands of bee hives are annually carried to cucumber fields just before flowering for this purpose. The flowers of these ‘open field’ varieties must be pollinated by bees to set fruits.


…overproduce honey?

Yes, they are hard little workers and often make more honey than they actually need.  On average beekeepers can harvest around 50 lb (4.2 gallons) of honey from a healthy, productive hive during the summer without depleting the bees winter storage that is necessary for their survival.

…or wasps hurt more?

Wasp stings are usually more painful than bee stings, although that doesn´t mean that bee stings don´t hurt!



Yes, bees poop but not as often as humans! They only poop a few times a week and can hold it for weeks! The workers usually do their business outside, while the queen and the others ´go´ inside the hive. Given that bees are incredibly hygienic little creatures, the workers are also the janitors, cleaning up the poop from inside the hive. The poop has the same color as pollen and can often be recognized in spring as yellow splatters on the outside of the hive.


Bees do not pee because their digestive system is different. They release ammonia and uric acid through their Malpighian tubes that are comparable to a human kidney. In these tubes, the ammonia and uric acid are combined with  fecal matter and are excreted as poop.

…pollinate corn?
Corn field

No, corn is pollinated by wind, the same as rice, wheat and soybean, although honeybees do gather pollen from corn.

…pollinate dandelions?

Dandelions do not require bees for pollination because they develop ​seeds and disperse them without needing fertilization..

…pollinate zucchini?

In fact, bees are the primary pollinators of zucchinis alongside with other insects.



Interestingly, bees quack, – and they also toot! Researcher at the Nottingham Trent University have decoded sounds from honeybee queens using ultra sensitive vibration detectors. The eggs in which the queens grow make a quacking noise when ready to hatch. Once the queen emerges, her quacks change to toots. This is a warning to the other bees to prohibit the other queens from hatching.

…queens sting?
Absolutely! The stinger of a queen bee is not barbed and she can sting repeatedly without perishing. She uses her stinger when she first emerges from her cell to kill the other queens before they have chance to hatch, or if she is threatened. 
…queens make honey?

The short answer is No. The queen is not involved in any other work other than producing eggs.


…remember faces?
People collage photo created by –

Yes, bees are smart! They can pick out individual features on human faces and recognize them during repeat interactions.  A study showed that bees can recognize and remember faces when stimulated with a sweet reward, and even without reward. This keen perception not only helps these highly social creatures recognize each other, but it also helps them recognize and return to flowers that produce more pollen.

…release pheromones when killed?

Yes, they do. Honeybees release odors of oleic acid and beta-ocimene, chemicals they naturally produce when they die.

…remember you?

Honeybees have excellent memories. A study showed that they have the ability to pick out individual features on human faces and recognize them during repeat interactions when given a stimuli in form of sugar water. This ability helps them to recognize each other and also to recognize and return to flowers that produce more pollen.


Bees are very busy little creatures that do get tired. An exhausted bee looks lethargic and is most likely quite a distance away from any flowers. Tired bees rest for an average of about 30 minutes.


…see in color?
Photo by Egor Kamelev:

Yes, they can! While humans see light in wavelengths from approx. 390 to 750 nanometers (nm) on the color spectrum, bees vision ranges from approximately 300 to 650 nm. That means they cannot see the color red, to them it appears similar to what appears to us as black. However, their´superpower´ lies in their ability to see ultraviolet (which humans cannot).


Walter Kaiser, a researcher observed in 1983 that bees in his hive stop moving; – they slept. He observed how their legs started to flex, bringing their head to the floor, and how their antennae stopped moving. Some bees just fell over sideways, and many held each other’s legs while asleep.

…smell fear?

Bees cannot smell fear but they can detect it by smelling the pheromones that a person or animal releases when afraid.

…sting dogs? 

Dogs love to sniff around and don´t really pay attention to little insects that may feel threatened by them. That is why they often get stung on their faces or paws.

…sting other bees?

Yes, sometimes steal nectar from other nests. Workers that act as security guard recognize those belonging to the hive and give them access. Bees identified as intruders are bitten and stung to hinder them from entering the nest. According to science, the security system is not infallible! Sometimes the guards do not recognize their nest-mates, and accidentally sting their sisters or they allow intruders access that they identified as nest-mates!



Not in a human way but they can communicate using different methods. Newly hatched queens for example communicate with the workers by quacking and tooting. See also, ´Do bees quack?´


Bees are remarkable thinkers! They can plan, problem-solve and even understand the concept of ´zero´! Learning to understand how these incredible little creatures process numbers could potentially help benefit to make more efficient computers in the future. Computers need a lot of electricity but a bee “is doing fairly high-level cognitive tasks with a tiny drop of nectar,” says Adrian Dyer from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He continues, “Their brains are probably processing information in a very clever [i.e., efficient] way.”

…taste with their feet?

Yes, honeybees have hair-like structures that contain nerve cells sensitive to particular substances (sensilla). Located on their “mouths”, antenna and the end of their legs (tarsi) these hair-like structures allow bees to differentiate tastes. Being able to taste with their feet allows the bees to check whether or not a flower has nectar as soon as they land. If the flower is dry, the bee moves on immediately, saving valuable time.

…take water back to the hive?

Honeybees visit puddles and ponds to gather water to cool the hive. Thomas Seeley, a researcher at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York found that thirsty bees inside the hive ask their water-foraging hive-mates for water to cool the colony. The water collectors have their own methods to collect the precious liquid. Some fill their bellies with water and regurgitate it back at the hive, others slurp it up and spit it out around the hive. U

…understand humans?

Given the fact that humans hardly understand each other, it is probably fair to say that although bees can recognize faces and do all kinds of amazing things, understanding humans is not one of them!

…understand art?

Honeybees continue to surprise humans again and again with their incredible capabilities! Scientists discovered that honeybees have an eye for art! Using sugar water as a reward, scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia taught honeybees to differentiate between an abstract Picasso and an impressionistic print of Monet.


…vibrate to fly?

See ´Do bees fly or levitate?´


…wings grow back?

No, they don´t! Once they are damaged or lost, bees are unable to regrow their wings.


Yes, they fly from one flower to the next but they use their legs to walk on plants to collect pollen. They also walk inside the hive when they build honeycombs or do other tasks.

…work themselves to death?

Australian biologist Ralph Carter found that bumble bees literally wear out their wings on their countless foraging trips and die as a consequence of it.

…wait above water?

The Scientific American Journal warns:

Never jump into a body of water to escape bees. They will wait for you to surface. Schmidt points to a case in which a swarm of bees hovered for hours over a man in a lake, stinging him whenever he came up for air. (The man survived only because the bees returned to their hive after sunset.)

…wake up at night?

Just like humans, bees wake up at night and equally they have different sleep stages ranging from light to deeper sleep. When they wake up, they may be immobile for a while, they groom themselves, or they go back to sleep.







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