Pollinator’s and Their Defense Mechanisms

What is the difference between bees and those offending hornets?

 

by Melissa Bravo - July 27, 2015

With all the buzz about bees and pollinators, this week’s article is about the other side of bees. The business end so to speak. We’re talking about those darn stingers.

A recent posting on the Tioga County PA Online Garage Sale Facebook page by Briana Winger regarding a questionable looking hive on the underside of a vehicle she wanted to post for sale, resounded in over 100 comments. Comment’s ranged from how to determine if the offending hive in question was a bee hive, or a hornet nest, to all sorts of antidotal- as well as tried and proven, methods on how to remove it.

hive

So, what is the difference between bees and those offending hornets?

Other than the Africanized honeybee which is known to be more aggressive, most bees are generally peaceful foragers. Let’s take the humble bumble bee for example. The Pennsylvania bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus) is just one subspecies of more than 250 species in the genus Bombus – a member of the tribe Bombini for those of you who are interested in the phylogenic’s of bee taxonomy. The familiar looking black and yellow striped body covered in fuzzy hair is a common pollinator here in the Northeast. The bumble bee has a long tongue that it uses to lap up nectar from flowers. As it does, pollen sticks to the bee’s legs and this is how many species of flowering plants are pollinated. Unlike honeybees, the bumble bee does not produce enough honey to over winter the entire colony. They also prefer to next in the ground in shaded areas.

It’s not uncommon for a person to literally run into a pollen laden bumble bee. They are slower moving than honeybees and it’s rather difficult for them to change direction, given the aerodynamics of their shape. It’s the brightly colored female queen and her same-sex workers that can sting you. Unlike in honeybees, a bumblebee’s stinger lacks barbs, which is why you can be stung repeatedly before the bee flies off with her stinger still attached to her abdomen.

Hornets, on the other hand, have a different take on things. Wasps and bees make up two distinct lineages of the group Hymenoptera in the superfamily Apoidea. The most common wasps are from the family Vespidae. You know them as yellow jackets and hornets. Unfortunately, there are another one hundred thousand of these stinging horrors out and about in the world. While some are satisfied to collect nectar or dead carrion for their young, most have evolved to use their stinger to paralyze their prey, often for the sole purpose of using their victim as an incubator.

While some of us only have a mild reaction to the toxic venom injected into our skin, many of us, like myself, have an intense allergic reaction which can quickly lead to anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition. A few years ago I literally walked into a nest of white faced hornets on an overgrown honeysuckle laden cow path. Despite a shallow dive into the nearby river which protected me from the rest of the angry mob, I was stung more than a dozen times.

So, swat at a bee if you must, but avoid those white faced hornet’s and yellow striped soda can visitors at all costs.

Credits:

Writing: Melissa Bravo

 

Produced by Vogt Media

< Current Stories >

 

See More Current Stories

 

October COVID-19 activity update with Jim Nobles

October 22, 2020

 

News, Sports, & Weather with Lauren Gooch

October 21, 2020

 

A passion for rural family medicine

October 21, 2020

 

News, Sports, & Weather with Lauren Gooch

October 20, 2020

 

The Eaton Calendar - Update

October 20, 2020

 

Modeling fall & winter fashion and Christine A. Moore hats

October 20, 2020

 

Landon, Binford combine for 41 points in Troy win

October 19, 2020

 

Bronson, Laudermilch win individual league crowns

October 19, 2020

 

Highlights from the past week's broadcasts!

October 17, 2020

 

Krone family runs, paddles & bikes in Step Outdoors event

October 16, 2020

 

Spacious, peaceful home atop the hills above Hills Creek

October 15, 20202 (Previously aired May 23, 2020)

 

Recommendation from Family Medicine Physician Lara Jaussi, DO


October 14, 2020

 

Blossburg resident breaks personal growing record

October 13, 2020

 

Keane's 4 touchdowns lead Hornets to Homecoming win

October 12, 2020

 

Lehman's 3 rushing TDs lead North Penn to victory

October 12, 2020

 

Highlights from the past week's broadcasts!

October 10-11, 2020

 

News, Sports, & Weather with Lauren Gooch

October 9, 2020

 

Women of all ages enjoy Ladies Night at Tyoga Golf Course

October 9, 2020

 

Take a tour of 214 Earl Circle

October 8, 2020

 

Local bus service gets creative & reinforces safety measures

October 7, 2020

 

A growing audience, a fantastic host, and the best agents ever!

October 6, 2020

 

Pick your pumpkin at Rockberry Farms!

October 5, 2020

 

Highlights from the past week's broadcasts!

October 3, 2020

 

Support This Year’s Friends of Soldiers + Sailors Campaign

October 2, 2020

 

Keep Tioga County Open!

October 1, 2020

 

Be kind and courageous, and keep Movin’ Together!

September 30, 2020

 

New Blossburg business brings extra flavor to the county!

September 29, 2020

 

Trojans rally from 14-point deficit for 34-21 win

September 28, 2020

 

Highlights from the past week's broadcasts!

September 26, 2020

 

Q&A with Laurel Health Centers' Angela Dixon, CRNP

September 25, 2020

 
 

Load More Stories