bees that don't sting

Bees That Don’t Sting: 9 Species of Bees That Won’t Hurt You

There aren’t many people that actively want to be stung by a bee. Whether you are allergic, or just want to avoid the pain that comes with a bee sting, you may find yourself afraid of all bees and avoid them as much as you can.

Interestingly, though, while many bees do sting, there are plenty that don’t. Bees aren’t very aggressive, and often don’t sting unless provoked, but there are some bees who won’t ever sting. If you want to learn about the 9 types of bees that don’t sting, continue reading this article.

9 Bees That Don’t Sting

1. Male Bees

Male Bees

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When talking about bees that don’t sting, it’s important to mention first of all that pretty much no male bees sting. Whether they are solitary bees or bees that live in a colony, most of the time, the males have no stingers at all.

Unfortunately, this isn’t terribly helpful, as male bees don’t ever leave the hive unless they are following their queen to a new location or are kicked out, where they quickly die. So this is only beneficial when you are considering interacting with a hive.

2. Mining Bees

Mining Bees

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Mining bees describe a family of bees known as Andrenidae. For the most part, both the males and females of this family are unable to sting. While some of them have stingers, most of them are so small or underdeveloped that they are pretty much incapable of using them for defense.

However, that doesn’t mean these bees are useless. Though they may not have stingers, many of them have powerful mandibles that they use instead. They can give painful bites, many times at a pain level that is higher than a normal bee sting.

These bees are located mostly in temperate and arid parts of the world. They are small to medium in size, and there are quite a few species of bees under the family. For example, two of the genera underneath Andrenidae are Andrena and Perdita, which have 1300 and 700 species respectively.

So while it isn’t possible to say that every species under this family doesn’t sting, the majority of them have underdeveloped stingers and rely on powerful bites to protect themselves instead.

Meliponini Bees

Meliponini describes a classification of bees. Meliponini is a type of tribe of bees where about 550 species currently reside. This tribe specifically is dedicated to bees that don’t sting. They are often called stingless bees or stingless honey bees.

This tribe falls under the family Apidae, which covers many common species of bees like honey, carpenter, orchid, and bumble bees. Most of the bees in this tribe do have stingers, but they are reduced and don’t provide any defense.

Like mining bees, they do have other forms of defense, many of which can still be painful. Most, if not all, of the 500-something bees under this tribe are tropical. You will find these bees in places like Australia, Brazil, and Central America.

Some of them can even produce honey that has a similar taste to honey produced by common honey bees like the European honey bee.

While there are too many species to describe here, we can discuss some of the more common bees under this tribe.

3. Melipona Subnitida

They are often found in the northeastern parts of Brazil. Unlike most bees, which mate specifically with a queen, M. subnitida instead practices more monogamous habits.

They will pick one mate and breed with them. Despite this, they do still have a queen which is protected by worker bees. The queen maintains her power by destroying any cells in the hive that could contain future queens. She also still produces eggs of her own, alongside the workers with their partners.

They are a type of bee that produces edible honey and are considered to be great pollinators. They can produce up to a liter of honey per year per chamber of the hive. Some older colonies can produce over six liters of honey. The honey does have a unique taste compared to other honey, but it isn’t unpleasant. It is known as Jandaira honey.

Despite them being fairly popular in the area, they are declining at a high rate thanks to deforestation and parasites.

4. Melipona Quadrifasciata

Melipona Quadrifasciata

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These bees are commonly known as mandacaia, which means “beautiful guard”. Their name comes from the fact that there is pretty much always one bee that sits at the small entrance to the nest as a guard. They are one of the most common species of bee in Brazil, specifically around the southeastern coastal area between Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Sul.

Since they don’t sting, they are often chosen to be used in greenhouses in the area. On top of being stingless, they are better pollinators than honey bees and produce higher and heftier yields of fruits and vegetables, and they also produce honey. They look similar to honey bees but are heavier built.

These bees are tame as well and don’t usually get aggressive with humans even to protect their hive. Instead, when their hive is broken open for food, they will not attack or fly away and will instead hide in the still-dark corners. Even when they do try to attack, you will have workers that simply fly around the intruders, but won’t actively attack them.

They are starting to decline despite their popularity with gardeners and beekeepers thanks to deforestation, drought, and pesticides.

5. Melipona Scutellaris

Melipona Scutellaris

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Also known as Urucu, which means “big bee”, this species is thought to have the largest distribution of all Melipona species throughout Brazil. They produce honey which is highly desired among locals. Thankfully, they can produce up to 10 liters of honey in a year per hive, so they can sell quite a bit.

In the wild, their nests are often in tree trunks with a mix of wax and resin. They make a mix of pots, pillars, cells, and tubes inside their hive, instead of just traditional cells. This makes it often difficult to get the honey out, as they are often stored in the pots.

The honey also has a high water content, so it often must be refrigerated if not eaten immediately, unlike other kinds of honey.

Additionally, the products they choose for nests have been a source of antibiofilm to help fight against cancer. Like many other species in Brazil, these bees are endangered due to heavy deforestation, specifically for sugar cane.

6. Melipona Bicolor

Melipona Bicolor

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These bees found throughout South America are also referred to as Huaraipo or Guarupu. They tend to live in various rainforests and have been found in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. They tend to nest in trees but stick close to the ground, such as in trunks or roots.

These bees do have a stinger, but they are so small that they are useless for defense. They are usually yellow with black or green eyes and are pretty thick and stocky.

One of the reasons they struggle is that they are sensitive to habitat changes. They live in rainforests, but if the area gets too dry, the whole colony can end up passing away. They also have quite a few predators, including other insects, lizards, and birds.

7. Scaptotrigona Polysticta

Scaptotrigona Polysticta

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Known as mandaguari in Brazil, these bees are critical for the pollination of the rainforests in the country. Though they don’t sting, they are still aggressive defenders of their nest. They are one of only 25 bee species under the Scaptotrigona genus.

They often nest in hollow sections of trees in the rainforest, at various levels in the tree. They are preyed upon by wasps. Without stingers, they often have to simply block the entrance to their nest, or they will sometimes bite.

8. Tetragonisca Angustula

Tetragonisca Angustula

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This small bee goes by a variety of names, such as jatai, espanolita, mariola, chipisas, and mariollitas. There is also a subspecies of this bee, which lives in South America and looks a little different color-wise.

The main species is usually found in Mexico, Central America, and South America. In all areas, their honey is highly desired and therefore can be 10 times more expensive than traditional honey.

The bees and their nests are small, and usually, put someplace out of the way. This means they are able to easily live in urban settings without being killed. Their ability to produce a lot of honey, lack of stingers, and calm behavior also makes them more attractive to humans rather than being thought of as pests.

Though they can live in urban areas, they do also enjoy forests, and taking over pre-existing cavities. Some have even been found to take over termite nests.

Though they don’t have a stinger, they do protect their nests well, and usually have several soldiers outside of the hive guarding it at once. There can be anywhere between two and 45 soldiers at once.

They only reproduce once a year, which makes it hard for them to repopulate following deforestation.

9. Trigona Spinipes

Trigona Spinipes

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Also known as arupa, this bee is commonly found in Brazil. Their name stands for “spiny feet” in Latin. It tends to make nests out of wax, resin, and debris and it often creates honey that isn’t considered edible. However, the honey is often used in folk medicine throughout history.

Since these bees cannot sting, they must defend their nest in other ways. They also do not bite, so they generally aren’t considered to be very dangerous or painful. They are an aggressive species, though, and to defend their homes, they will often tangle themselves in hair and buzz loudly or dive for mouths, noses, and ears.

They are considered to be more of a pest because they tend to damage crops in their hunt to make nests, but they also do their fair share of pollinating, especially for onions.

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