Do Bees Hold Grudges?

Bees are fascinating creatures. They’re intricately social and knowledgeable but can also be quite unpredictable. They sting and die when you disturb their nests, but they fly around your head or buzz at you from a few feet away. It’s hard to know what bees will do next! 

Do bees hold grudges? Are they smart enough to remember who has hurt them in the past? Well, yes—but not in the way that humans do. Bees have a different sort of memory from us: one that gives them an edge over other animal species regarding cooperation with their friends and family members (i.e., other bees).

Let us explore this phenomenon and discover how bees react to certain situations.

Bees and their unpredictable emotions

The truth is, bees are unpredictable. They’re emotional and moody, temperamental, and easily offended. Bees can be sensitive and touchy, easily hurt or angered by minor things.

It’s not that bees don’t care about you—it’s just that when it comes to personal relationships, they’re easily distracted by something shiny on the ground, like a leaf or a bit of pollen from another flower. It takes so many hours for them to realize you’re gone when you leave their hive!

The problem with these behaviors is that they can make bees challenging to get along with—and even dangerous if they hold grudges against other animals (or humans).

Why do bees hold grudges?

The fact is, bees are not human. While they’re intelligent and capable of learning and remembering things like the locations of food sources and the faces of the people who visit them, they can’t hold grudges as we can. They don’t have a complex emotional makeup to meditate on their wrongs or righteously punish those who wronged them.

So if you think your bee has been holding a grudge against you because you didn’t give her sugar water when she requested it last week—don’t worry! It’s unlikely that she remembers your face or name after only seeing it once. And if she does remember your face? It’s probably because she recognizes this excellent opportunity for her to get more food from humans…not because she feels any kind of hate toward you!

Do bees get mad when you get near them?

The answer is yes. And no. Bees can be like humans in that they have moods, but unlike humans, their attitudes are connected to external stimuli. For example, when a bee feels threatened or angered by your presence, it will try to become more aggressive and sting you if necessary (if they’re angry enough). On the other hand, if a bee hasn’t been provoked into an angry state and has no reason to be upset with anyone—including yourself—then there’s no chance that it’ll attack or sting you for no reason!

Do bees hurt people who hurt them or their friends?

A bee’s reaction to a threat depends on its level of awareness of the danger—and it has several levels of awareness:

  • Colony-level awareness: The colony feels threatened by something outside its hive or nest (a predator) and sends out scouts to find out what that thing is and how best they can defend themselves from it (e.g., collect information about whether this insect is dangerous).
  • Hive-level awareness: The hive itself feels threatened by something outside its hive or nest (e.g., someone cuts down trees around us), so we send out our workers to defend ourselves against whatever threatens us (in this case, cutting down more than just one tree).
  • Queen-level awareness: The queen feels threatened by someone cutting down trees around her nest because she wants privacy away from onlookers who might see her offloading eggs into cells inside the said nest. So if anyone comes close enough while she’s doing that work—shooing them away would be too risky given how vulnerable she’d be while doing so—she’ll immediately attack with stinging motions whenever anyone gets too close.

Are bees emotionally intelligent?

Bees are highly social animals, and their lives depend on the ability to learn and remember. A bee learns how to find food, avoid predators and ward off parasites by watching other bees do it. Bees also teach each other through social learning (imitation). They can learn from humans as well as other bees of different ages!

Bees can recognize faces from photographs – a highly complex cognitive task that all animals do not share. In addition, bees seem to have a sense of fairness. If one bee receives a treat before another does in an experiment with two differently colored dots on their back (think smarties candies), then later, when there’s no treat left for either bee, they will work harder at pushing down levers than before the first trial began.

Do bees remember humans?

Now that we’ve cleared up the fact that bees cannot hold grudges let’s be clear about something else: bees are not intelligent enough to remember what has happened to them or their hive. They do not have the brain power to store memories of interactions with certain humans, so they may avoid them in the future.

Bees don’t even know how old they are, so it would be impossible for them to keep track of any timeline and determine when a specific event occurred (such as being stung by a human). Bees also don’t tend to live very long—their average lifespan is just 4–5 weeks—which makes it unlikely that any bee could hold onto memories of its own experiences well enough after so much time has passed since they happened.


So, is it true that bees hold grudges? It depends on the situation. Some experts say that bees can remember where they’ve been stung by other bees, while others insist they don’t feel a thing after being injured. We may never know whether or not honeybees are capable of holding a grudge because we lack the technology needed to test their memory capacity. But one thing is for sure: no matter what researchers discover about bee behavior in upcoming years, our respect for these amazing creatures will remain just as strong!