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June 15, 2012 6:33 PM   Subscribe

A rare photograph of a honeybee stinging a man, with its abdominal tissue trailing behind, was more than 100 years in the making.
posted by Evilspork (75 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
How weird tonight was my first sting from a honey bee not 2 hours ago and this... Btw I was cool and calm and felt bad for the bee not mee
posted by mrgroweler at 6:37 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


No surprise the Sacramento Bee is all over this.
posted by yoink at 6:38 PM on June 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


Great photo but as far as I can tell the article doesn't in any way explain the headline that it was 100 years in the making. How was this photo a century in the making?
posted by Justinian at 6:41 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


.
posted by littlesq at 6:47 PM on June 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


George Eastman's family was murdered by bees
posted by crayz at 6:50 PM on June 15, 2012 [25 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get the 100 years part either.... Oh, wait... a reporter wrote that, it doesn't have to make sense...
posted by HuronBob at 6:51 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


That photo is fractally ewww. Dude getting stung, bee getting guts ripped out, alternating black and purple pinstripes... there is no portion of it that doesn't turn my stomach.
posted by Etrigan at 6:57 PM on June 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


Entomological snuff film.
posted by mollweide at 6:57 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I hope it was worth it.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:58 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Garvey recognized an opportune time to capture this photo when she was walking with a friend. A bee came close to him and started buzzing at a high pitch. She said that's normally a telltale sign that a bee is about to sting, so she readied her camera and snapped four photos.

Great friend.

Also, the URL is amusing.
posted by empath at 7:04 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm relieved that the article isn't about a multi-generation family that has been attempting to photograph bees in mid-sting for a century.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:06 PM on June 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


I did feel a small bee sized frisson of vengeful glee at the thought that every bee that has ever stung me ripped its guts out through its own asshole. In equal measure I feel admiration for bees who are willing to die to really underline how pissed they are.

In conclusion: Fuck you, I'm a bee!
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:09 PM on June 15, 2012 [45 favorites]


b1tr0t: "I'm relieved that the article isn't about a multi-generation family that has been attempting to photograph bees in mid-sting for a century."

I don't know why, but this sounds like it would be an excellent plot for a Wes Anderson movie...
posted by schmod at 7:17 PM on June 15, 2012 [29 favorites]


Guuuuuh I fell like I've always known "bees die once they sting" but for sanity reasons I never considered the mechanism by which this must be so but it's because IT STICKS PART OF ITSELF INTO YOU AND THEN GUUUUUUUUUUUH FOR LOTS OF REASON I AM VERY GLAD I AM NOT A BEE.
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Fuck. Nature is amazing and literally sublime nonetheless I'd have rather seen a thousand Liefield drawings than looked at this picture because bee seppuku.
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:24 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


My science-and-anatomy obsessed 8-year-old will love this.
posted by not that girl at 7:27 PM on June 15, 2012


You'd think evolution would have cleaned up this shit by now and disconnected the guts from the stinger.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:27 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


They should learn to bite or head-butt... so they can at least live to tell the story...
posted by greenhornet at 7:29 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Got stung by a honeybee last summer. It was the first bee sting I've had since I was a child, and the first honeybee sting I've ever had. All I could think was "poor bee, she's going to die and it's all my fault for putting my hand in the wrong place!"
posted by Coatlicue at 7:30 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Couldn't sleep, decided to have a sleepy look at MeFi and... THIS! Might just stay awake for a while longer now. Eurgh.
posted by joboe at 7:31 PM on June 15, 2012


nathancaswell: "You'd think evolution would have cleaned up this shit by now and disconnected the guts from the stinger."

well i can think of at least two things wrong with that
posted by boo_radley at 7:39 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is cool, thanks for sharing.

I've never been stung by a bee, somehow. Mosquitoes, of course, find me magically delicious.
posted by Gator at 7:40 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have no idea why my first thought was: Thank goodness deer don't have giant stingers.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:44 PM on June 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


Stop drinking their urine.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:57 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


How neat!
posted by insectosaurus at 8:05 PM on June 15, 2012


the article doesn't in any way explain the headline that it was 100 years in the making. How was this photo a century in the making?

Oh, wait... a reporter wrote that, it doesn't have to make sense...

Reporters don't write headlines.

I believe the headline is a reference to the "bees have been in her family since 1850" business. It probably made more sense with an earlier version of the story where she talked about that stuff more.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:06 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stop drinking their urine.

It's their vomit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:07 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]



Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
...
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. DAMMIT!
Sting. Click. GOT IT

What bee allerg...(thud)
posted by eriko at 8:08 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


> "I believe the headline is a reference to the "bees have been in her family since 1850" business"

or, if you choose, go back a few more years (1835) to when photography started.
posted by komara at 8:09 PM on June 15, 2012


There's something oddly romantic, even quixotic, about the way a honeybee dies after stinging.

I suppose it's the closest thing in nature to a noble death.
posted by cacofonie at 8:09 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do I feel sorry for the bee?
posted by Splunge at 8:10 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


or, if you choose, go back a few more years (1835) to when photography started

I thought about that, too, but we don't know this is the first photo of a bee in mid-sting, just that Ms. Garvey isn't aware of an earlier one.

There was probably a big grand paragraph 4 that explained it all but now we will never know. STUNG AGIN, SACBEE!
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:12 PM on June 15, 2012


100 years is only like 4 months in bee years.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:12 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why do I feel sorry for the bee?

Have you ever been stung by a bee? Those things are fucking terrorists when they sting, and I don't care if it's a suicide mission because OW.

Of course, wasps are worse because they can sting you over and over.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:13 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's nice to see Sting getting work.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:15 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Its amazing to me that they have the power to fly away while tearing their body apart. Rock on honey bees, you're tougher than I'll ever be(e).
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:15 PM on June 15, 2012


Why do I feel sorry for the bee?

It just eviscerated itself for no reason.
posted by davidjmcgee at 8:17 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'd think evolution would have cleaned up this shit by now and disconnected the guts from the stinger.

It did develop wasps, for which FUCK NATURE.
posted by jacalata at 8:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [28 favorites]


So this isn't the only photo of a honeybee mid-sting (there are a bunch of them on GIS) but it does seem to be much more dramatic compared to this and or even this.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bee stings are bad, but fucking yellow jackets hunt you out for the sheer pleasure of sticking you. Again and again.
posted by jgaiser at 8:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I love that it's under the "yolo news" section.
posted by roboton666 at 8:20 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Garvey has bees in her blood:

As does her friend, now.
posted by darksasami at 8:28 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Cool, I was worried I wasn't going to have any nightmares tonight!
(This is really fascinating, I just clicked through completely unprepared)
posted by Shadax at 8:32 PM on June 15, 2012


And yet, who of us, brave citizens, would give THEIR LIFE just to comment on bad fashion?

OH THE HUMANITY
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:42 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


oh, and plus? I love you bees. And I'm not worth it, by the way. I'm just your average commuter drone.

kthxbai
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:44 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Behold the sting of the bee
Which evolutionarily
Without any questions
Leaves behind its intestines
For whatever will bee, will bee.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:46 PM on June 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


There's something oddly romantic, even quixotic, about the way a honeybee dies after stinging.

Not to mention supremely vindictive ('I stab at thee from hell') since they leave behind a venom sac attached to the stinger which has its own musculature and continues to pump venom into you.

I suppose they do this because some of their enemies are so small, or have vulnerable places that are so small-- think bear's noses-- that they would get in each others way so much stinging and flying away intact to sting again, that a swarm can deliver more venom per second by only blocking a tiny bit of stinging territory with a venom sac and leaving the field clear for the next attacker.

Queens can sting over and over again, however, and do so to each other for the control of a hive, at times, and maybe you could argue that the suicide bomber aspect has something to do with keeping commoners from trying to usurp the throne.
posted by jamjam at 8:49 PM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


It did develop wasps, for which FUCK NATURE.

I spotted a Great Black Wasp just last night, as luck would have it.

In my bedroom.

On my shoulder.

Regretfully, as I have a tendency to startle at the appearance of unexpected bedfellows, my immediate reaction did not quite rise to the wasp's level of nonchalance.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


This whips me right in a frenzy, it does.

oh no his sting's all gone...
posted by King Bee at 9:08 PM on June 15, 2012


Bee stings are bad, but fucking yellow jackets hunt you out for the sheer pleasure of sticking you. Again and again.
posted by jgaiser at 8:19 PM on June 15


One of my earliest memories is of my Dad running his lawnmower over the honeysuckle along our driveway and watching him do the "swat dance" as the yellowjackets all poured out of their lair to sting him... if I remember right, he had 40-50 stings that day.

Ask me about the time I threw a piece of shellrock at a wild beehive when I was a land surveyor in Central Florida and my deathdance with a single bee who zeroed in on ME!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:16 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


. for the bee - there's now a little less honey in the world.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:28 PM on June 15, 2012


So what about that time you threw a piece of shellrock at a wild beehive when you were a land surveyor in Central Florida, and your deathdance with a single bee who zeroed in on YOU!?
posted by Evilspork at 9:32 PM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


A bee came close to him and started buzzing at a high pitch. She said that's normally a telltale sign that a bee is about to sting, so she readied her camera and snapped four photos.

After the bee sting, a car came squealing around the corner and was making a strange rattling noise while heading straight at her friend. A amateur mechanic in her spare time, she said that rattling is normally a sign that the car's brakes are about to fail, so she readied her camera...
posted by ODiV at 9:41 PM on June 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


O death, where is thy sting?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:42 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


After much of a lifetime spent outdoors, I've never been stung by a bee as far as I know, and only once by a yellowjacket (I watched it do it. I had my favorite sunglasses precariously in the same hand, and it was mad because I didn't know it was crawling around on the earpiece and squished it a little when I took them off [surprisingly soft abdomen], and I couldn't fling it off without throwing my sunglasses down on a pebbled courtyard. It stung me right on the cuticle of my index finger, and the little yellow stripes-- or black, I can't remember-- on its abdomen flexed in like the folds of a bellows. It felt exactly like a small electric shock, and was so anticlimactic I laughed, then waited for the anaphylaxis to kick in, which had supposedly happened a couple of times from food when I was little. But nothing happened, not even a visible mark, and my partner wouldn't believe me when she came back from the bathroom.)
posted by jamjam at 10:17 PM on June 15, 2012


The hypothesis about worker bees not having multiple sting capability in order to prevent them from overthrowing the queen is neat but doesn't hold up. Workers are sterile, for one, so they can't replace the queen. Also, because they have haploid males (male bees have only one set of chromosomes rather than the more usual two sets) bees are actually more closely related to their sisters than their daughters, since sisters share 75% of their genetic material whereas daughters share only 50%. So for a worker bee, it's actually better (from an evolutionary fitness perspective) to help make more sisters (via the queen) than to make daughters. This is one of the key elements in the development of eusociality in insects (ants share this arrangement with bees, by the way) and a classic example in evolutionary biology of how selection pressure shapes behavior.
posted by Scientist at 10:39 PM on June 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


Sorry for being so pedantic, I just think it's terribly interesting.
posted by Scientist at 10:40 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sting that arm —
It's so hairy.
Fly off to
The apiary.
BURMA-SHAVE.
posted by willF at 12:03 AM on June 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


We used to have a honeybee hive in a tree outside our house, which was great because we could see them work. Occasionally, one would make it into our kitchen. I would grab a cup, capture the bee, and put it outside (I did the same with wasps, but it was much harder...). All my life I have done this, and never been stung.

One night, I got up to get some water in the kitchen. My feet were bare. As I put my right foot down, I could feel a bee just under it, and immediately curled my toes to avoid crushing it, so I could put it outside. The bee stung me in return, killing itself. Ironically, had I not tried to save it, I wouldn't have been stung. Now I know how the frog felt.

Oddly enough, it didn't hurt at all; it only itched a little. I was surprised because I always expected bee a sting to hurt.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:55 AM on June 16, 2012


It's their vomit.

Are you talking about bees, or deer?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:39 AM on June 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a beekeeper who get's stung pretty often, I call bullshit on this headline. Maybe 1 in 10 times when I get stung, the bee is literally unable to fly off, tethered to the skin by its own entrails just like this. The photographer makes it seem like this is a super rare action shot, requiring quick reactions to snap, but it could just as easily be deliberately staged and lit.
posted by roofus at 3:24 AM on June 16, 2012


I did feel a small bee sized frisson of vengeful glee at the thought that every bee that has ever stung me ripped its guts out through its own asshole. In equal measure I feel admiration for bees who are willing to die to really underline how pissed they are.

In conclusion: Fuck you, I'm a bee!


The honeybee don't give a shit.
posted by Anything at 3:55 AM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]



Bees are fine to sting other arthropods as much as they want. It's just our thick tough mammal leather that drags their entrails out after them.

Imagine trying to rip a hole in an elephant's skin as it's running off and you're trying to cling on. Imagine surviving that. If you will pardon the gruesome scaling up.
posted by ambrosen at 4:03 AM on June 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


A few years back, I was driving down the road with my arm out the window when I got a stab of pain in my middle finger. I thought I'd been hit by a bit of flying gravel, but when I brought my arm back into the car I found a dying bee stuck to my knuckle by its stinger.

Yeah, that's how badass I am - the last time I got stung it was because I punched a bee in the ass at 40mph...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 6:23 AM on June 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can we talk about how fucking terrible Bee Movie was in this thread? I came across the Eldest Goddaughter watching it on TV once, and she was subjected to a blistering rant from me about how this had nothing to do with actual bees, because for one thing worker bees are all girls, not Jerry fucking Seinfeld.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:24 AM on June 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Twiddle dee dum, twiddle dee dee...
posted by Meatbomb at 9:37 AM on June 16, 2012


In which I threadsit:

I will never understand bees.

BEEEEEES
posted by Evilspork at 10:01 AM on June 16, 2012


The hypothesis about worker bees not having multiple sting capability in order to prevent them from overthrowing the queen is neat but doesn't hold up. Workers are sterile, for one, so they can't replace the queen. Also, because they have haploid males (male bees have only one set of chromosomes rather than the more usual two sets) bees are actually more closely related to their sisters than their daughters, since sisters share 75% of their genetic material whereas daughters share only 50%. So for a worker bee, it's actually better (from an evolutionary fitness perspective) to help make more sisters (via the queen) than to make daughters. This is one of the key elements in the development of eusociality in insects (ants share this arrangement with bees, by the way) and a classic example in evolutionary biology of how selection pressure shapes behavior.

I appreciate your interest in my comment, Scientist, but I think you may have allowed your grasp of the map to interfere with your awareness of the ruggedness of the adaptive landscape in this case:
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.
I didn't know about this study when I made my comment or I would have linked it, but I was relying on a sense that whenever you encounter a system among living things that restricts the reproduction of some subentity, you should look for the development of some sort of evasion of that restriction-- such as we see in cancer, for example. And just as we see in cancer, such evasions do not necessarily increase fitness considered from a sufficiently broad point of view.

That doesn't mean my speculation that the one and done aspect of worker bee stings might have been selected for because it plays a role in limiting worker attacks on the queen had anything to it, though. In fact, when I was looking into the behavior of the Cape honeybee, I ran across a passage that pretty much puts paid to that idea:
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.
And it doesn't mean you were mistaken about worker sterility imposing a very important barrier against attacks on the queen, either. Another source I found, but which I've lost track of for the moment, said that Cape workers are much more able to lay fertile eggs than the workers of other varieties of Apis mellifera.
posted by jamjam at 11:31 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bee Stings — Remember to run away if possible:
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.
...with a nice illustration of the honeybee's amazing little venom pump which can pulse away for 30 minutes.
posted by cenoxo at 3:25 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


... and here's a closer look on a larger scale: imagine if angry birds had these.
posted by cenoxo at 3:43 PM on June 16, 2012


Jamjam, there is no usurping the queen's position because the queen isn't exactly a good description of the role this cast of bee play's in the hive: she lays thousands and thousands of eggs, day in, day out, until she dies. It's kind of a miserable job. Yes, she also regulates the hive through pheromones, but the comb itself also plays a similar role. When, in standard Italian or other European species development, there is no brood or queen pheromone, sterile workers will start to lay (but I've never seen or heard of them killing a fit queen to usurp the postion), but they are infertile and will lay only drones. . . this is a death sentence for a hive. Queens have a barbless stinger, but even people who raise queens for a living are pretty much never stung by them. They're only ever used on rival virgin queens in cases of supercedure (in which case worker bees, queenless, instead of raising one of their own cast to take that position, raise a new queen from a fertilized egg or very young larva).So why barbs on the workers? Knowing the huge regulatory role pheromones play in the life of the hive it's important to understand that the bees use the so called 'alarm pheromone' to single to each other that there is a problem. A bee that eviscerates its self on your nose does not do it in vain, it tags your nose with alarm pheromone, which other bees can hone in on quickly and accurately. Three bee stings, one after the other, in the exact same spot on your face. . . well that sends a message the way random stings just don't. The cape bee is an interesting case, but an outlier. The vast majority of honeybee species function more or less as scientist wrote when it comes to their genetic makeups. Honeybee society is not a mobile one.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 8:14 AM on June 17, 2012


TheTingTangTong: "It's kind of a miserable job. "

Not a job, nor miserable. It is the purpose of its life (to remove the implicit, irrelevant human gender issues from the sentence).
posted by IAmBroom at 9:37 AM on June 18, 2012


Wow, I definitely did not know about parasitic workers. Are they fertile, or are they only capable of laying drones, as in TheTingTangTong's comment? (I would check out that paper but I only have my phone here.) That is a really neat exception. Nature never ceases to amaze.
posted by Scientist at 6:38 PM on June 18, 2012


... and here's a closer look on a larger scale: imagine if angry birds had these.

You know, more and more I get the feeling a lot of nature was Intelligently Designed by HR Giger.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:13 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If a hive is not queenright (with a queen) for long enough, the pheromones emitted by uncapped brood (larva) which keep the ovaries of workers from developing, will cease to function and one or more workers will begin to lay. Since they've never mated, all the eggs are unfertilized (thus drones). That usually means the end of the hive, since the rest of the workers now consider themselves queenright and will kill any introduced queen (and won't even bother trying to raise a new one, an impossible task anyway at this point). But there are some species, the cape bee being one of them (but as far as I know this bee isn't kept anywhere, at least not in the US where I live) that are capable of producing fully diploid offspring from worker eggs.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 12:52 PM on June 21, 2012


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