Do bees sting for no reason?

It is common knowledge that bees sting [2], but it is also important to note that only female bees can sting [1]. Male bees don’t have stingers and are not productive members of the hive. Another misconception about bees is that they will die after stinging when only the honey bees die upon stinging. 

Many people are afraid of bees because they think that the bees will sting them if they see people without any reason. However, is it true that bees just like to sting, or do they sting for a different reason?

Bees don’t generally sting people for no reason, but people may have done something that bees don’t like. Bees will surely attack you if they perceive you as a threat, like unconsciously entering their territory, wearing a clothing color threatening to bees, or accidentally disturbing their hive. So unless you are a beekeeper, it would be best to avoid bees as much as possible.

Do bees sting for no reason?

bee coming out of a beehive

Bees would not sting people for no apparent reason. So the people who may have been bitten by bees did something unconsciously threatening the bees or their hives or may have watched killer bee movies with sensationalized plots that they became afraid of.

A common misconception about bees is that they are all aggressive and territorial stingers. However, only a small percentage, or about 10%, of bee species are social or live within a colony of bees [3]. The rest of the bee species are likely to be solitary bees that commonly live on the ground, are more peace-loving, and are less likely to attack you.

To learn even more about bees, you should also read Can bees drink soda? and At what temperature do bees die?

Do all bees sting?

An important consideration about bees is that not all bees can sting because only female bees have stingers attached to their body that they use to protect themselves and their hives. This is because only female bees have ovipositors [4] or an organ where eggs are deposited. 

Also, not all bees die after they sting. In reality, only the honey bees and the Africanized honeybee species will die upon stinging. This happens because their stingers are barbed instead of smooth, which is common to other bees.

Their barbed stingers lock and are trapped into the skin when they sting and are left there. They will also force themselves to pull their stinger, resulting in a part of their abdomen blowing up and killing them.

Another thing to remember is that even dead bees can still sting you if you’re not careful, so it is best to always wear your shoes when going out in the yard to avoid accidentally stepping on them. Also, don’t touch dead bees.

Why do some bees sting?

bees landing on a beehive

Though only a handful of bee species will likely sting you if you’re not careful, it is still important to know why they will sting you and to avoid any unpleasant incidents. 

Also read: Can bees drink salt water? and Do bees sting dogs?

1. You are wearing a color that is attractive to bees.

Studies have shown that bees are similar to humans in their photoreceptors, which are also three or trichromatic. We humans have red, blue, and green (RGB) photoreceptors. While bees have ultraviolet light (invisible to human eyes), blue, and green. 

Bees are also attracted to bright colors, like orange and yellow, so avoiding wearing them or even changing the color of clothing may be helpful to avoid attracting bees.

Another important reminder is to avoid dark and deep red colors because they all appear black to bees, which are common colors of their predators and are likely to provoke them and cause more aggression [5]

2. You did something to the bee or its hive

Remember that social bees like honeybees can be aggressive when protecting their hive and will attack if they perceive you as a threat or have disturbed them, like throwing a stone towards their nest.

Whether you have disturbed them on purpose or by accident, the best thing is to run away as far as possible from their hive and look for shelters.

Also, don’t try to swat them or flail your arms to say to them, “go away,” because you will only be in more danger of angering them as you appear to be a bigger threat.

3. You are too close to their hive.

I think this is common sense, but it still needs to be repeated again and again until it sinks in. Bees don’t like people near their hives and are not afraid to die protecting them. So, it is best to save yourself from the risk and just leave them alone.

Though some bees are not too aggressive and territorial, it is a new story with Africanized honeybees, primarily because they are more aggressive and territorial and will likely attack you even with the slightest provocation.

What to do to avoid getting stung by a bee?

bee drinking nectar from a hand

Prevention is better than cure, so it is best to know how to avoid getting stung by bees in the first place. Here are some tips for avoiding bees. 

Feel free to also check out Do bees have fur?

1. Avoid sweet-smelling perfume and scents.

Sweet perfumes, colognes, and deodorants are attractive to bees, so it is best to avoid using them to prevent bees from following you. 

2. Avoid drinking sweet drinks when close to bee habitats.

Another sweet thing attractive to bees is soft drinks that can mimic nectar. So, you can avoid drinking them when bees are likely foraging in the summer. You may opt to drink less attractive drinks to bees and much healthier than these sugared drinks.

3. Wear light-colored clothing.

It would be best to avoid attractive and aggression-inducing colors for bees. You should avoid the bright colors that are attractive to bees and the darker colors that can cause aggression to them.

To be safe, always wear lighter colors that are also cool to the body to lessen sweating. By wearing light-colored clothes, you can prevent aggressive bees from attacking you and sweat bees from licking you.

What to do if you’re stung by a bee?

1. Stay Calm and get far away immediately

If you’re stung by a bee, there may still be a threat of other bees in the vicinity. So keep calm and get away from your location immediately to avoid further attacks.

2. Remove the stinger immediately

If you’re stung by a honeybee, the stinger is still lodged in your skin. Immediately remove it with your fingernails to avoid more venom from penetrating your body and worsening your situation.

3. Wash with soap and water.

It is also important to immediately wash it with soap and water to eliminate any bacteria from entering the wound.

4. Apply a cold pack can reduce swelling.

After washing, place a cold pack on the stung area to help the swelling caused by the venom. It can also provide some relief from the pain. However, if you accidentally got stung near your face, neck, or throat, you may need to be brought to the emergency room.

5. Seek medical assistance immediately if it causes a severe reaction.

Though only a tiny percent of Americans experience a severe reaction from bee stings, it is always best to be on the safe side. So, if there are allergic reactions and symptoms, bring them to the emergency room and seek immediate medical assistance.

What do I do if a bee chases me?

You can follow these suggestions when you finally do everything you can to avoid getting attacked by bees.

1. Never attempt to swat bees with your hands because they have stingers, which could lead to more aggression from the hive. 

2. Never jump to bodies of water to escape because bees are known to continuously swarm over you even if you’re submerged. 

3. Your first option when being chased by bees is to run as fast as you can and as far as you can or get inside your car or a building.

To expand your bee-knowledge, we’d suggest also reading How long does a bee live in a vacuum? and Does wasp spray kill carpenter bees?


Bees are essential to our ecosystem because they ensure they pollinate the flowers and plants we consume for free. With the increasing threat to the bee population, protecting them is crucial.

However important as they may be, they also pose the threat of stinging people. Though it may sometimes appear that they stung you for no reason, it may not be accurate from the bee’s perspective.

Bees attack when they perceive something or someone as a threat to their colony and self, so it is best to avoid coming close to their territory, wearing attractive colors and scents, and disturbing their hive.


[1] – madelinek, P., 2017. Scientific scribbles. Scientific Scribbles. Available at: [Accessed September 26, 2022].

[2] – Bee sting. (2022, August 12). In Wikipedia.

[3] – Anon, Learn these top 10 facts about bees. WWF. Available at: [Accessed September 26, 2022].

[4] – Ovipositor. (2022, July 26). In Wikipedia. 

[5] – Fagerlund, R., 2012. Wearing bright clothes or scents attracts bees. SFGATE. Available at: [Accessed September 26, 2022].