Which bees sting and which don’t in the UK

Which bees sting and which don’t in the UK… When you think of a bee, what comes to mind? A sweet insect that makes honey for us to enjoy? Or a pest that stings people and pets alike?

Bees are fascinating creatures. They are quite industrious, they have sweet honey that is delicious, and their stingers can be used to help relieve pain for those who suffer from arthritis or other inflammatory problems.

A lone bee might raise fears in some people. A bee sting can be painful, and it is better to avoid one as much as possible. 

However, before deciding on a method of eradicating a colony of bees, you must first distinguish the species of stinging insect, whether it’s a wasp or a bee. 

Let’s go through the different types of bees that buzz around us and find out which bees sting and which don’t in the UK.

which bees sting snippet image

Table of Contents

Bumble Bee

Bumble bees can be found in most of the United Kingdom. Many people are stung by bumblebees, but it is quite rare that this bee attacks someone without a provocation such as swatting at them or stepping on them accidentally. Bumble bees do a great deal to help the environment, so don’t kill them if you don’t need to.

bumblebees on flowers

Honey Bee

The honeybee is also one of the types of stingers you’ll find around your home and garden. Honeybees build their nests on structures like trees or buildings; sometimes they make these structures inside attics or wall voids if there’s an opening large enough for even a small colony to fit through (which happens more often than homeowners would like). When they feel threatened, some species will vibrate their abdomens to produce sound – resembles loud buzzing – and it might sting if they feel threatened.

honeybees a in hive

Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees are known for making their nests in wood. They drill deep, cylindrical tunnels into wooden structures to build cells where they feed on tree sap and lay eggs. Male carpenter bees do not sting but are commonly mistaken by homeowners for aggression and the potential of stinging. The female is able to sting, although she rarely does so unless provoked or handled.

Carpenter Bee covered in pollen

Leafcutting bee

The leaf-cutter bee is the type of stinger that cuts leaves with its jaws before it carries them back home as a construction material for its nest. Leafcutter bees can be destructive when they choose your garden plants as nesting sites, but otherwise, they tend to leave us, humans, alone.

Leafcutting bee on soil


There are over 100,000 wasp species in the world. They usually build their nests under the ground or inside cavities of trees and walls. Wasps can be very defensive when they feel threatened; thus it is important to avoid antagonizing them if you see one buzzing around your garden or property. They can obviously sting, so make sure you stay vigilant.


Bee Sting Treatment

If you are allergic to bees, then stings can be life-threatening. If you have been stung by a bee and experience swelling of the affected area or if your throat starts itching uncontrollably, it is time to seek medical attention immediately. For less severe cases where there’s just one sting that doesn’t require immediate treatment, follow these steps:

  • Wash the wound with soap and water.
  • Disperse some baking soda on top of it before covering it with a bandage for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation.
  • Remove the bandage after this period
  • wash again with warm water.
  • Apply an ice pack on top of it for 15 minutes continuously over several hours until redness subsides completely (this will help prevent further swelling).
  • If the swelling is particularly worrisome, then you need to seek medical attention.
bee sting

Which bees sting the most?

Bees that live in colonies are more likely to sting in defence of a hive or nest than bees that exist alone. Honey bees, yellow jackets, and paper wasps are the most frequent, but wasps tend to sting the most frequently in general across the United Kingdom.

paper wasp and lave on plant

How do you know if the stinger is still in?

If you have been stung, chances are that the bee’s stinger detaches from its body and stays in your skin. In some cases, it can sting through layers of clothing too. If this is the case for you or someone else who has been stung by a bee, remove the stinger as quickly as possible to avoid further release of venom into their tissue.

bee sting on skin

How do bee stings look?

Bee stings look like a small, red bump that is surrounded by white or yellowed tissue. If multiple bee stings are present on the same area of skin, then this can result in swellings and blisters with fluid-filled centres surrounding them.

bee sting with stinger attached

Why does my bee sting still hurt a day later?

Bee venom can be toxic to humans; thus it causes your immune system to release histamines, which are chemicals that cause the body’s tissue to swell and become inflamed. This is what results in the painful sensations associated with bee stings.

The sting causes severe pain and burning for 1 to 2 hours. Following a bee stinging, inflammation can last 48 hours. The redness may linger for 3 days. Swelling might persist for up to 7 days.

bee sting is still painful

Can you have a delayed reaction to a bee sting?

In some cases, it is possible to have a delayed reaction after being stung by one of these bees. If you are not sure whether or not this might be the case for you, consult with your doctor as soon as possible so they can determine if any medication should be prescribed.

Does toothpaste help bee stings?

No, it is not recommended to use toothpaste for treating bee stings. The reason why this home remedy does not work is that the pain that you feel after being stung by a bee occurs as a result of their venom entering your tissues and organs at cellular level; thus, applying an external anti-inflammatory agent will do nothing to reduce its effects.

Can you die from getting bit or stung?

Bee sting fatalities are rare in the United Kingdom but they can occur especially if someone has other health issues already present such as diabetes or heart disease. It’s important that you know what to look out for when dealing with these insects so that you stay safe during your outdoor activities. However, with that in mind, don’t worry too much as bees tend to avoid humans.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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