DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Bee sting. View of a honeybee Apis mellifera in the process of stinging a human finger. At lower centre, the sting has embedded in skin, while the bee pulls away rupturing its seventh abdominal segment and mortally injuring itself. The sting carries with it nerve and muscle tissue that work to pump poison (peptides) into the finger. The tip of the sting is armed with backward sloping barbs which make it difficult to remove once embedded. Cells around the sting also exude a pheromone odour that attracts other bees to attack the same site. Only female worker bees are able to sting. This barbed device was originally an egg-laying organ that evolved into a weapon of defence.
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