Headless Bees Still Sting

Recently a person wearing socks, but no shoes was walking in her garden near some lavender when she stepped on the abdomen of a honey bee and was stung.

Upon closer inspection, she found the ground was littered with the abdomens of honey bees. Apparently, California scrub jays like to eat honey bees, but they consume only the head and thorax, discarding the abdomen with the stinger in it. (Maybe they’ve learned from being stung by the abdomen, plus the venom sack has a bitter taste.)

Still-fresh detached honey bee abdomens are fully functional—the muscles in the abdomen will still push the stinger forward, and the muscles that operate the venom sac automatically pushes venom into the wound.

Since other birds may have learned to do this same thing, wearing shoes wherever bees are buzzing about would be a wise thing to do.

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