Ask an expert: Do native Australian bees sting?

By AG Staff | November 7, 2013

How dangerous are our native bees?

QUESTION: Do native Australian bees sting?
Jane Barry, Coogee, NSW

David Britton, at the Australian Museum, says:

With the exception of the highly social and stingless native bees in the genera Trigona and Austroplebeia, all other native bees have functional stings.

With the smaller species, the tiny sting would be unlikely to penetrate the thickness of human skin. Unlike the introduced honey bee, these stings are not barbed, so the act of stinging is not fatal to the bee.

The other key difference between native bees with stings and the honey bee is that they do not form large, highly social hives, and don’t show the same aggressive, defensive behaviour. You’d have to catch a native bee or trap it in your clothing to make it sting you. I think that most of the people who have been stung by native bees are entomologists trying to catch them!

If you have a question for an expert, email it to editorial@ausgeo.com.au.

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