Honey Bees are an introduced species to Australia. Whilst they may become a pest, especially during the summer months, they are valuable to people for the honey and wax they produce. At the same time, they provide plants with an important pollination service.
Bees are social insects. The worker bees visit flowers in search of pollen, and if caught in any way they can sting. Bees are very attracted to clover flowers, so it is best to be cautious when walking through clover patches.
Honey bees will vigorously defend their nests, stinging the source of the threat, even though they will die as a result of that sting. The stings of bees are barbed, piercing the skin and remaining attached firmly enough to pull out of the bee's body as it moves away. At the top of the sting is a sac-like gland containing venom, which begins to pump into the victim straight away.
What do I do if I am stung?
Do not try to pull the sting out between your fingertips, as this will force the venom into the wound. The sting is best removed by scraping it away with the fingernail. Remove the sting as quickly as possible to avoid having the full amount of venom pumped into you.
Most bee stings cause intense pain and swelling but for some the reaction is much more serious. Make sure the sting is removed and apply a pressure immobilisation bandage immediately.
If a person is known to be allergic, seek emergency medical attention. Such persons may experience difficulty breathing and possibly collapse, so should wear a medical alert bracelet to identify the problem.
Are there other types of bees?
There are various other types of bees. The mortar and carpenter bees are not social bees, and they vary in size from 5 to 20mm, and may be hairy or fuzzy or shiny and metallic green. These bees are not dangerous, although the female does possess a sting.
The native social bees are small (4mm) and dark in colour. They form colonies in tree hollows and other cavities. These bees produce a thin honey which has only recently been investigated for commercial purposes. The wonderful thing about these bees is the fact they do not sting.
What do I do if I see a swarm of bees?
DO NOT APPROACH IT! Contact a qualified pest consultant who will eliminate the bees for you.
Like the Honey Bee, European Wasps are an introduced insect and can become quite a dangerous pest.
- Same size or slightly larger than a honey bee.
- Unlike other wasps, the European wasp has black antennae and a yellow (not orange) and black body.
- Black markings on its body are arrow-shaped, pointing backwards, along the top of the abdomen, with black spots on either side.
Habits and Habitats
- Wasps thrive in urban areas, living in nests hidden underground, or in wall cavities, ceilings of buildings and in cracks in retaining walls or rockeries.
- Nests are not visible from the outside, but it is the size of a football or even larger. It is made of a papery material.
- The only way to pin-point the location of a nest, is to observe the activities of the wasps. You will see them coming and going from the opening to the nest.
- Wasps have a great liking for meat and sweet things, like fruit and even soft drinks, making them a frequent nuisance at barbeques.
- European wasps are dangerous because, unlike a bee, which can only sting once, wasps can sting multiple times.
Allergy to European wasp stings is possible, though in general, the sting is nothing more than a painful experience.However, deaths have occurred when wasps have stung people in the throat after being swallowed. Wasps enter soft-drink cans in search of the sweet drink, and are easily swallowed.
The only effective way to control these wasps is to remove the nest. This is dangerous and requires the skill of a licensed, experienced pest consultant.
WARNING: It is important NOT to drink from soft-drink cans when these wasps are around.