DR GARY GAUGLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR GARY GAUGLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Bee sting. Coloured light micrograph (LM) of the end of the needle-like sting of a bee. The sting is a modification of the female ovipositor, or egg-laying apparatus. It is no longer used to lay eggs, but instead serves as a weapon of defence. The sting consists of moveable chitinous elements, into which the ducts of two glands open. When a bee stings, the contents of the alkaline gland are mixed with the contents of the acid gland producing poison. The tip is armed with backward- sloping barbs (centre right), which makes it difficult to remove intact. The action of stinging kills the bee.
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