Honey bees can bite, which is actually good news

We all know bees can sting. We recently began discussing the fact that some drink your tears. And since Halloween is just around the corner, this seems like a great time to let you know the following: researchers have found that honey bees can bite, as well — and this is actually good news!

That may have been classic scare-journalism, and I apologize for the incendiary lede there. Because, fact of the matter is, they can't bite humans. Even if they could, it wouldn't do a darn thing to us. But they do bite parasitic mites that are too small for the bees' stingers to, well, sting.

The pests include wax moth larvae and varro mites. They can bring disease, viruses and other nasty things to a colony. So the bees, in an effort to keep the parasitic population to a minimum, inject them via biting with 2-heptanone, a chemical pheromone that stuns the mites.

Honey bee bites secrete a chemical that stuns the pests. And, the good news: that chemical might have a useful role in medicine as a local anesthetic. As a local anesthetic, it would be helpful because the treatments now, such as lidocaine, sometimes provoke allergenic reactions.

Again, this is still in early testing, but the outlook is sunny. It's bee-tastic!

I couldn't resist.


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