Bees and bee stings

How often do you hear someone say: "Bees are useful creatures." But is this also true? Or are bees just as 'dangerous stuffed animals' like wasps? We have taken a look at this honey collector. Some 20,000 bee species are known, but the actual number will probably be even higher. Apart from Antarctica, bees occur on every continent and in all ecosystems in which dicotyledonous plants grow. A bee belongs to the vliesvleugeligen (Hymenoptera).

Hymenoptera or fleece wings

Hymenoptera or fleece wings are an order of the insect class (Insecta). The best-known groups are the bumblebees, the wasps, the bees and the ants. However, the fleece wings are a complex order, the ants are made from wasps, most ants (real ants or Formicidae) have button-like body segments and can be recognized by them. Other 'ants', such as the velvet ants (families Methochidae, Mutillidae) can be considered as wingless wasps, they are also known as 'wasps'. Also the bee-like are born from wasps, they are strongly related to the digger wasps. The bumblebees have developed from the bees.


The Hymenoptera may not be as well known as a group, but the various representatives of the fleece wings play an important role in everyday life as indispensable pollinators of flowers (bees and bumblebees), exterminators of pest insects (such as paper wasps and parasitic wasps) and waste disposal companies. nature (ants).

Estimates of the number of species belonging to them are of the order of 300,000 worldwide, of which only about 100,000 have been described. About 11,000 species live in Europe; the number of non-woven wings in the Netherlands is estimated at 8500; this number will also increase considerably. By comparison, the number of beetle species known from the Netherlands is 3900. In Europe, the order comprises 68 families, 63 of whom were found in the Netherlands.

How do bees live?

Like bumblebees, ants and a number of wasp species, bees live in colonies. A bee population consists of one egg-laying queen, some 30,000 to 60,000 female worker bees and a few hundred males (drones). The queen lays her eggs for about ten months a year (from December to October). A queen bee can lay 1600 eggs per day and can also decide which egg they fertilize and which not. From the fertilized eggs the females, the worker bees, and from the unfertilized eggs the males arise, the drones.

Helpful? Very useful!

Bees need flowers for their food. They extract nectar and pollen from these flowers. Because bees fly from flower to flower for their food, they form the most important link in the process of pollination. Part of the pollen stays on the hairy body and sticks to the paws. This allows him to pollinate a following flower (unconsciously).
Bees are 'flowerfast', they fly just as long on the flowers of one plant species, until there is nothing to catch. This makes bees extremely suitable for pollinating fruit trees (apple, pear, plum, cherry, blackberries, strawberries, berries) and seed cultivation.
This pollination is therefore very important for human food. In addition, bees also make honey (source of income with an estimated value of 4.5 million euros).


Bees, bumblebees, wasps: they are regularly confused. Bumblebees are those dark-colored and thick-haired humming fly-animals. You can already hear them from afar.
Wasps are predominantly yellow with a black mark on their slender ('wasp waist'!) Hairless abdomen. Wasps you see especially in the late summer and are always looking for (especially your) sweets.
Bees are somewhat smaller than the bumblebees, are slightly hairy and quite shy. If there are enough flowers in the neighborhood, a bee does not come off so quickly on your sweet drink.

All differences at a glance:

A beeA wasp
Has a brown black abdomenHas a yellow black abdomen and has a wasp waist
Makes a winter supplyDoes not make a winter supply
Makes honey and nectarEat the nectar yourself
Collects pollenDoes not collect pollen
Makes a nest of home-made laundryMakes a nest of finely chewed plants
Eat all but vegetable foodAlso eat insects including bees
Pretty shyCome to your sweets
The whole year throughEspecially in late summer

What Is Nectar?

Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by plants. The nectar is excreted by honey glands inside and outside flowers and contains glucose, fructose and sucrose.
The composition of nectar varies greatly with different types of plants. Saccharose predominates with one plant, with the other fructose or glucose. The sugar content is maximum 80%. Honey bees split the sucrose into fructose and glucose. Nectar also contains small amounts of proteins, vitamins and various flavorings. These quantities vary per plant species. This makes bee honey different from different plant species different.

How do you prevent a stab?

Bees only stab when they feel threatened. If you just sit down quietly and do not beat around you (he will see this as a threat) something will not happen soon. Do not prefer to sit near a nest. In the vicinity of their litter, bees are often extra aggressive. Do you have a nest in the garden? Please do not do this yourself, but ask your municipality about the possibilities.

Sweet smells

A bee likes sweet scents. Therefore, look out a little bit with sweet drinks, ice cream and fruit. Do not drink soft drinks from a can. If there is a bee, he can put it in your mouth!
Do not walk barefoot through the grass, bees love clover and daisies. Before you know it, one of them hangs on your toe. Also watch out with loose clothing. Bees can then (for example) easily fly into a sleeve, then feel and feel stuck. That is why narrow clothing is a bit safer. A cheerful floral motif also wants to attract bees.

Oh yeah ... still bitten

The sting of a bee has barbs that remain stuck in the skin of his victim. If he tries to pull himself out after the stitch, the sting (with the poison bladder) tears away from his abdomen. This causes the bee to die immediately.
The gif bladder remains active for up to one minute after the stitch. That is why it is very important to remove the stinger immediately. Rather not with thumb and forefinger. In this way you ensure that even more poison is pushed into the skin.

Cold compress

Preferably use a pair of tweezers that have been disinfected with alcohol. Stab the wound, disinfect it with a disinfectant and cover it with a plaster. A cold compress may give relief in case of itching, pain and swelling. In case of itching, do not scribble, as this can cause infection.
If you are stuck in your mouth, tongue or throat, or have an allergic reaction, contact a doctor immediately.

Allergic reaction to a bee sting

During the stab, a bee or wasp leaves venom in the victim's skin. In most people, such a stitch leaves a red, swollen bump that causes itching. After a few hours, the symptoms are often gone.
Every year, however, more than half a million people in the Netherlands give rise to more physical complaints. This happens in people who have an allergic reaction. Such a reaction can only occur if one has already been in contact with the insect poison before (in the first stitch one will usually not react so strongly). People often know that they are allergic to bees and wasp stings and they will carry an emergency set for this.

Mild allergy

If you are mildly allergic, a painful, red swelling may develop and increase. Even the whole leg or arm can be swollen. The swelling occurs at the location around the stitch. This type of allergy is very annoying, but not life-threatening;

Heavy allergy - Anaphylactic shock

In allergic people, the allergic reaction extends over the entire body. Symptoms may occur such as red eyes, a runny nose, a sudden drop in blood pressure, swelling of the larynx or trachea causing respiratory distress, vomiting, et cetera. This reaction occurs for 15-30 minutes after being stabbed. If no immediate action is taken, an 'anaphylactic shock' may occur. This causes severe heart and respiratory disorders, often followed by loss of consciousness and / or a life-threatening shock situation. It is then of great importance that expert help is called in immediately and a treatment takes place.

People who know that they have an allergic reaction should do well to prepare for a possible next stitch. This can be done in two ways:

Emergency set

It is possible to have an emergency set prescribed by your doctor. This set includes an automatic syringe that is pressed against the femur when applied, causing the needle to stand out and release the injection liquid (adrenaline). The general practitioner can provide detailed information about this and learn how to use the syringe.


The best method to treat someone with bees and wasp allergies is a hyposensitization course. With this course, increasing concentrations of poison are injected for a certain period of time. This is called the setup phase. Subsequently, during the maintenance phase, these patients receive the highest dose of poison every 2 to 3 months, necessary to prevent the allergic reaction, injected. By administering this treatment, someone will normally react to a next stitch.

Did you know…

  • Working bees (females) basically do not lay eggs, but when the people lose their queen, the worker bees will lay unfertilized eggs from which males will again arise.
  • Bees can dance. Once they are home, the bees lay down the nectar and the pollen and start dancing. By dancing in certain figures, they tell other bees where they can find food.
  • In all bee houses hexagonal rooms (cells) are made of wax. Pollen is stored in these rooms.
  • If the (bees) rooms in the (bees) house become too hot or too cold, the bees do something themselves. They wind their wings, they spread water, they cling or fly around. This allows them to regulate the temperature and humidity in the rooms.
  • Young bees are being trained. First they have to clean rooms. When they are a bit older they can take care of the larvae. Something older they had to make and new rooms. When this training is completed, you will learn how to collect nectar and pollen. In this way, their range of duties is constantly being expanded.

Video: People Getting Stung By BEES Reactions

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