Why Are Bee Stings Barbed ?

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Offline neilep

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Why Are Bee Stings Barbed ?
« on: 03/10/2009 16:26:00 »

Dearest Bee stingologists,

As a sheepy I, Like a bee ,impale an extremity into ewes...however, unlike a bee, my extremity is not barbed and does not lead to my eventual demise when retracted !

look, see this bee sting !



[attachment=10086]
A bee Sting Being All Barbed



Nice eh ?...(covering my neighbour in jam and pushing him into a room filled with angry bees next tuesday !)

Does a bee know that when it stings it's going to quit the earth soon after ?..(has anyone asked a bee ?).....why has the bee not evolved a non barbed sting like those blimmin wasps ? To what end is a form of defence for a bee that can only ever be used once ?

I'll Bee waiting for your kind comments...in the mean time I am going to smother myself with honey and present myself as a gift to my mistress wife !



hugs & shmishes


Mwah mwah mwah mwah





Neil
Executive Officer In Charge Of Asking About Bee Stings
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Men are the same as women, just inside out !

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Offline LeeE

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Why Are Bee Stings Barbed ?
« Reply #1 on: 03/10/2009 19:18:34 »
Well, the obvious reason that they're barbed is so they don't come out once they've been stuck in something.

The real question, I think, is why bees should have evolved this strategy.

The obvious comparison is with wasps, who are able to withdraw their stings, and I believe it comes down to the primary use of the sting.  In the case of wasps, the primary use of their stings is in hunting, but with bees it is used primarily for defense. 

In a nest of wasps, not every wasp goes hunting and this means that those wasps that do hunt need to bring back more food than they personally need.  This being so, if the wasp was to use its sting for hunting large prey but was unable to free it afterwards, it would just end up inextricably locking itself to its dead prey.  Because the sting is at the extreme end of the body, it wouldn't be able to fly as the off-centered weight of the prey would unbalance it, and even if it could manage to get back to the nest it would then have to wait until the prey had been eaten away from its sting by other wasps.  It makes sense then, for the wasp to be able to withdraw its sting after using it so that it can carry the prey back to the nest nicely balanced beneath its body, leave it there, and go hunting again.

Bees don't hunt though, and instead just use their stings to defend the nest.  The benefit of leaving their stings in the attacker, even though it means their own personal death, is that part of the sting is left outside the attacker's body where it can release chemicals to the air that other bees can then detect and use to quickly identify the attacker, enabling a mass concerted defensive attack response.  If the bees were able to withdraw their stings they would leave nothing on the outside of the attacker's body (the venom needing to be injected inside the body to work) with the result that every other defending bee would have to individually identify the attacker for themselves, leading to a slower and less effective response.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline neilep

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Why Are Bee Stings Barbed ?
« Reply #2 on: 03/10/2009 22:41:45 »
Thank ewe LeeE for what is always a concise and very informative answer.

I feel that it's a shame that, in the case of the Bee, that its evolution did not arm it with a sting that would do the job that it's current one does and also have the ability to be withdrawn too. Perhaps, it's not the sting that needed to evolve but the toxin that it delivers.
Men are the same as women, just inside out !

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Offline JnA

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Why Are Bee Stings Barbed ?
« Reply #3 on: 05/10/2009 06:34:29 »
Quote
The benefit of leaving their stings in the attacker, even though it means their own personal death, is that part of the sting is left outside the attacker's body where it can release chemicals to the air that other bees can then detect and use to quickly identify the attacker, enabling a mass concerted defensive attack response.  If the bees were able to withdraw their stings they would leave nothing on the outside of the attacker's body (the venom needing to be injected inside the body to work) with the result that every other defending bee would have to individually identify the attacker for themselves, leading to a slower and less effective response.


amazing.