Lethal fighting between honeybee queens and parasitic workers (Apis mellifera).
Pheromonal signals associated with queen and worker policing prevent worker reproduction and have been identified as important factors for establishing harmony in the honeybee (Apis mellifera) colony. However, "anarchic workers", which can evade both mechanisms, have been detected at low frequency in several honeybee populations. Worker bees of the Cape honeybee, Apis mellifera capensis, also show this anarchistic trait but to an extreme degree. They can develop into so called "pseudoqueens", which release a pheromonal bouquet very similar to that of queens. They prime and release very similar reactions in sterile workers to those of true queens (e.g. suppress ovary activation; release retinue behavior). Here we show in an experimental bioassay that lethal fights between these parasitic workers and the queen (similar to queen-queen fights) occur, resulting in the death of either queen or worker. Although it is usually the queen that attacks the parasitic workers and kills many of them, in a few cases the workers succeeded in killing the queen. If this also occurs in a parasitized colony where the queen encounters many parasitic workers, she may eventually be killed in one of the repeated fights she engages in.
When a bee stings a victim with a thick hide, like a human, the barbs on the end of the sting embed themselves in the victim’s skin. When the bee tries to forcibly extract itself, or is brushed off, the poison sac is ripped from the bee’s belly, maiming the bee to death. When bees sting other insects the barbs do not embed themselves.
A bee will sting to defend itself or its hive. All bees will do this. If you swat a bee and crush it then the body of the bee produces a chemical that will incite other bees to attack in greater numbers. The best thing to do if faced by attacking bees is to run away as fast as you can. Seek cover in a car or nearby building. Do not try to swat the bees away – you are only likely to provoke a more severe attack. Bees tend to sting the face and head, so try to cover your nose and mouth with your hands while running. Never stand still or get yourself boxed into a place outdoors where you cannot escape the attacking bees. SEEK SHELTER. Run for an enclosed building or vehicle. DO NOT LOCK THE DOORS! Others may be trying to escape the bees as well. Bees that do get inside usually become disoriented and go to the light at the windows. Honeybees will chase you for about fifty yards or so. African bees will chase you for up to one hundred and fifty yards.
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