Apis mellifera

People have known and used honeybees and their products since ancient times. Honey used to be the only sweetener in the food of many peoples.

In a cave in Spain have been found pictures of men gathering honey from a wild hive, which date from 15-20 thousand years BC. Nowadays, even after people have invented artificial honey, honeybees haven’t lost their place in our everyday life. 

Actually these creatures have a very interesting way of life. They are social animals and the hive is like a perfectly arranged home where everybody knows what to do and does it. There are three kinds of honeybees in a swarm:

  1. The Queen that is larger than the rest and does nothing but eating and laying eggs
  2. Workers that do all the work for the hive
  3. Drones whose only “task” is to appear in the hive at the end of the summer, to fertilize the young females and to be killed and thrown out of the hive after that. 

Only worker-honeybees can sting. The sting of the honeybee has only a defensive use. What is more, it is not possible for the insect to tear it out of the skin. It remains there with a part of the guts, so the honeybee dies. 

Everybody knows that one honeybee sting cannot cause troubles (under normal circumstances) but we shouldn’t forget that the honeybee is always a part of the hive. There are still some wild hives to be found in cracks of fissured cliffs. A completely healthy human being can survive about 500 stings and there may be thousands of honeybees in a hive. Also, it is of great importance where the sting gets. It may cause just a local sharp pain, swelling and reddening but the poisoning may be really severe if a sting gets into a blood vessel of the face or the neck. In that case usually occur vomiting and abdominal pain, a rush all over the body and increased heart frequency.

The poison is called apitoxin and is actually a colorless, limpid, bitter liquid with a pleasant smell. Its effects were known in the past as a successful method of healing rheumatism.

Preventive measures:

  • Destroy all Hymenoptera’s nests around your living place
  • Keep your feet covered outdoors
  • Avoid bright colored clothing and perfumery products
  • Prefer to wear tight that floppy clothing
  • When you encounter the insect, stand still or retreat slowly. If it lands on skin, quickly brush it off. 
  • Use the personal first aid kit in individuals with a history of allergy 
First aid: 
  1. Removing the sting
  2. Tightening up the limb above the affected place 
  3. Treatment of the wound with tap water or antiseptic solution and applying a cold compress
  4. Antihistamine (antiallergenic) medicines in severe cases
  5. Intravenous corticosteroids and subcutaneous adrenaline in cases with anaphylactic shock