January's 'Bee Bite'
"How often do you get stung on the job?"
This is one of the most common questions that we get asked by the general public. The answer, surprisingly, is not too often! We have never had to wear protective gear while working and only get stung when we make a mistake - for example, accidentally reaching into a net and not realizing that there are two bees in there instead of one. Bees are not inherently aggressive; rather, they're defensive. They are too preoccupied with three things- pollen, nectar, and mating- to pay attention to us unless we get in between them and one of these three things.
When a native bee does sting us, she (male bees don't sting!), doesn't leave her stinger behind in our skin. In fact, her stinger is part of the same anatomical structure that she uses to lay eggs: the ovipositor. She also doesn't die after stinging us like honey bees do. If she were to lose her ovipositor or die, she would not be able to contribute to the next generation of her species. When one honey bee dies after stinging a person, there is little impact because their death often serves to help protect the hive. In contrast, when one solitary native bee dies, then her entire contribution of offspring to the future generation dies with her.