Only female, non-reproducing honeybees die after they sting.
Only female, non-reproducing honey bees die after they sting.(1) That’s because their sting apparatus is barbed and stays stuck to their prey when they attack or respond in self-defense to some perceived threat. However, it’s not the act of stinging itself that kills the honeybee. Rather, it is the fact that after the sting is administered, the honeybee tries to free itself and in the process, ruptures not just the stinger from its body but also the venom sac, causing permanent, fatal harm to the honeybee’s body system.
About one in ten human victims of a bee sting has a more dramatic reaction to them.(2) Symptoms among this group include skin redness and an enlarging of the affected area over the next 24 to 48 hours. Those with an extreme allergy to bee stings can ultimately, in rare cases, die from exposure to a honeybee’s venom.
That severe allergic reaction to bee stings, both honeybee and otherwise, is known by the scientific name of anaphylaxis. Symptoms for these unlucky sufferers can include difficulty breathing, an outbreak on areas of the skin far beyond where the sting occurred, and swelling of the tongue and throat. Other signs of this allergy are nausea, dizziness, fainting, and loss of consciousness.
(1) Buncombe County Beekeepers Chapter – “Bee Stings: Immunology, Allergy and Treatment”, Retrieved September 26, 2011 from http://www.wncbees.org/docs/reference/Marterre.2006.pdf
(2) Mayo Clinic – Bee Stings: Symptoms, Retrieved September 26, 2011 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bee-stings/DS01067/DSECTION=symptoms