The sign of the sting

Since we’ve been talking about wasps, I want to show you a couple of cool photos taken by Bill Reynolds of Minnesota. He writes:

The yellowjacket hornets have been behaving themselves and doing a good job cleaning up the dead bees in front of the hives. Every once in awhile I will find a dead yellowjacket amongst the dead bees. I recently took a closer look at the hornet and found a honey bee sting had dispatched the wasp.

This required excellent powers of observation. I’m quite impressed that Bill found the stinger . . . or that he even looked. I suppose it goes with being a good photographer, but in any case, I love the photos. Very instructive! Too bad the bee had to die too.

A honey bee stinger. © Bill Reynolds.

A honey bee stinger. © Bill Reynolds.

A honey bee stinger embedded in a yellowjacket. © Bill Reynolds.

A honey bee stinger embedded in a yellowjacket. © Bill Reynolds.


  • Good for the bee! We have had decoy nests and traps up all season, but the wasps are still out there. And then last week I had a fairly big allergic reaction when I got 5 wasp stings (disturbed a nest by accident). Hives, itching all over, big swelling at the sites. Seems I may be developing a wasp venom allergy, so now I show no mercy!! And am extra attentive that I have my epipen, phone and Benadryl handy…

  • WOW!

    I’ll have to adjust my story about the nature of a bee stinger. I’ve been telling the story that the serrated blade that is a honey bee stinger can cut in and out of an insect like a saw through a piece of wood, that the stinger gets stuck in stretchy mammals and not hard insects. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised, and what a photo, (what a lens!). Nature red in tooth and claw – and stingers too.

    • Glen,

      I was wondering if the bee went in between the hard plates and buried the stinger in the stretchy stuff . . . hard to tell from the photo.

  • Bill,

    Thanks for the photos and posting. My bees have dispatched a few yellowjackets this year. I haven’t found any dead ones but have seen them in action. I still find honey bees the most fascinating creature I have ever studied.

  • We have had wasps in the same locations around the property during the past 35 years. This is the first year we have had bees and there haven’t been any wasps. I was told bees reduce the number of wasps but didn’t know my ladies would be so efficient in that regard.

    Thanks for the photos.

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