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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…

Glen Buschmann


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.



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.



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.

David Youngberg

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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