Do bumble bees die after they sting?

Many people may immediately think of the Transformers when they hear the word bumble bee [2]. However, there is a much more important kind of bumble bee that we need to highlight. Like most bee species, the bumble bee participates in the critical process of pollinating flowers and many types of plants and fruits we eat [1]. So, the common question that arises is whether they also die after they sting.

Bumble bees don’t die after they sting you. Contrary to popular belief, not all bees die after they sting. This is also true about the bumble bee, which is capable of stinging you multiple times. The truth is only the honeybees are the bee specie that dies after they sting because of their barbed stingers that attach to the skin after it punctures the threat to the hive. 

Let us learn more about the bumble bees, why they are essential, and why they will sting you without dying,

bee landing on a flower harvesting nectar

Do bumble bees sting?

Bumble bees are some of the more common types of bees in the world, with more than 20,000 species and 4,000 species in the United States. They are also part of the minority, with only five percent (5%) of bees that are considered social bees because they can live in colonies, compared to the solitary bees that prefer to be left alone [3]

These bees are also easier to identify because of their typical black and yellow hair stripes around their bellies, and they are larger in size than the average honeybees. The queen and female worker bumble bee have stingers attached to their abdomen, which they can use when necessary to defend themselves or their hive.

Similar to most bee types, only the female bumble bees have stingers to protect their queen and their hive, while their male counterparts don’t do any actual work [4]. The male bumble bees, once fully grown, will live a more solitary life and will never look back at their nest.

Do bumble bees die when they sting you?

Most bees won’t die after it stings you. In fact, most bees can repeatedly sting you if needed. A common misconception about bees is related to their stingers. 

It is common to hear that once a bee uses its stinger, it will be lodged onto the victim’s skin. After the bee flies away, the stinger will be left out, and the bee will eventually die. However, this is only true for one common type of bee, which is the honeybee.

The honeybee’s sting structure causes death to itself because once its barbed stringers puncture human or animal skin, they can’t remove it. To avoid getting swatted and to escape from the punctured animal or human, they forcefully pull it out. 

However, it will not remove the stinger. Instead, it will tear its abdomen, leaving the venom sac, glands, muscles, and other parts of its body, ultimately killing it [5].

Similar to honeybees, where only the female worker bees have stingers to defend their hives, the female bumble bees can also use their stingers when necessary. The only difference is they won’t die after stinging, so they can use their stingers repeatedly if needed [6].

Can a stinger grow back?

We have already learned that bumble bees don’t die after stinging and can even use it on multiple occasions. Still, it is also curious to think if their stinger can grow back if they break it. 

Unfortunately, stingers won’t grow back, so if the bumble bees accidentally break their stinger for whatever reason, it will not be replaced. The stinger is not like nails for humans that can continuously grow but are more like bones that, once they are removed, will not grow back.

Luckily, in the case of bumble bees, they may not even need it and live peacefully during their 28-day average lifetime.

Are bumble bees aggressive?

Bumble bees are social bees like honey bees, but they are not as many in number in their hive. The common number of honeybees in their nest can have as many as 20,000 to 60,000 bees at a time. On the contrary, bumble bees can only have as few as 50 to 400 bees, even when it is an established hive [7]

Aside from being few in numbers, they are also not as aggressive as the honeybees. A contributing factor may be their honey production. Even though they produce honey to feed their young, it is not a considerable quantity that people and other threats will try to invade their homes.

Bumble bees also make their nests underground, using prior holes from other animals or cracks and cavities on ground-level, making them harder to see. This can also be why there are fewer disturbances in their nest. 

How many times can a bumble bee sting before it dies?

Since bumble bees, similar to other types of bees like carpenter bees, have smooth stingers that they can pull out after stinging. They can use their stinger repeatedly because they don’t have the barbed stinger typically seen in female honeybees, which can kill them if they ever use them [8]

Bumble bees are also more docile and rarely use their stinger unless threatened and had to defend themselves. They may not even use their stingers in their lifetime, which typically averages only 28 days [9]. Bumble bees are also better left alone so they won’t have to use their stingers.

What to do if you’re stung by a bumble bee?

Again, bumble bees are the more peaceful type of bees. They just love their usual routine of foraging and returning to their hives at night. Though they won’t probably sting you unless they’re cornered or threatened, it can still happen, so knowing what to do once you’re stung is still crucial.

Bumble bee sting, like other types of bees, can cause pain. However, to most people, it will only cause itching, redness, and swelling to a localized area where you have been stung but will not be dangerous or life-threatening. 

But for a small percentage of Americans, around 5 to 7.5% of the population, insect stings can cause a severe reaction to their body that can be lethal [10]. A bee sting may also require a different intervention depending on the body’s response. 

However, a sting on the head and neck is more dangerous, especially if it causes severe swelling. In these cases, you have to immediately call the help of medical practitioners or bring them to the hospital.

Are bumble bees endangered?

The bumble bees are one of the most important insects in the world because of their active role in pollinating various flowers and fruit trees, like eggplants, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries, and more. Unfortunately, in recent years, their number has been dropping at an alarming rate, with some bumble bee species reportedly being locally extinct. 

Bumble bees are known to better fit in colder places because of their fuzzy bodies. So with the ever-increasing global temperature due to climate change, the bumble bee population is expected to continuously decrease unless we do something.

Several species of bumble bees are now classified as threatened, with some even being completely extinct in some places, like the rusty patched bumble bee, which used to be plentiful in Canada but is now nowhere to be found in the country. They are also now endangered in the United States [11].

Another reason for the decline in their number is the continuous use of pesticides that are toxic, not only for the bumble bees but for all types of bees. So if you’re a farmer, avoiding pesticides will help the bumble bee population and our own because they will continue pollinating many of our grown food.

Loss of their natural habitat due to continuous industrialization and land conversion has also impacted the number of bumble bees in the wild. 

So, while we can be concerned if a bumble bee dies after stinging, the much more urgent matter at hand would be to preserve their habitat, avoid the use of pesticides, and find ways to arrest the increasing global temperature due to climate change.


Bumble bees are less noticeable yet one of the most important creatures in the world due to their role in pollinating various flowers and plants that are commonly consumed by humans. 

Though they are less aggressive than honeybees and are less likely to sting you if they are cornered or threatened, they will sting you – not just once, but up to multiple times.

Similar to the honeybees, only the female bumble bees are capable of stinging because they have stingers attached to their bodies, while the males have none. However, unlike the honeybees who die immediately after stinging, the bumble bees are capable of stinging multiple times using their smooth stingers.


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