Kathy Keatley Garvey - “Instead of Warning Eric Mussen About the Bee, I Got Out My Camera” (Note: I’m kidding. By all accounts, Eric Mussen was a voluntary participant in this, and he did it For Science!.)
That trail of goo leading from the stinger to the bee is actually her guts. For those of you who don’t know, honey bee stings are fatal to the bees. Their stings are actually modified ovipositors, and they’re barbed, and they tear the fuck off the bee when she nails you.
Above: Do not want.
So when the bee stings you, it sticks in your skin, and the bee partially disembowels herself when she flies away. (Note: This is only honey bee workers. Bumblebees, queen bees, wasps, etc. are vicious bastards who won’t blink at stinging the dick out of you, because they can do it as often as they want.)
Left behind are the stinger, the poison gland, and a venom sac that continues to pump venom into you for like a couple of minutes, which is why they tell you to a) remove the stinger immediately and b) be careful about how you do it, so you don’t wind up squeezing more venom out of the sac and into your skin. Usually that’s it for anatomical displacement, but occasionally she loses some of her intestines, too. Also left behind: an assload of banana-scented alarm pheromones telling all the other worker bees to come sting your ass.
The worker bee who’s left her sting behind in some unlucky bastard typically dies within a few minutes whether or not she’s lost her guts along with her venom sac. The detachment of the sting itself is fatal.
Since the sting is a specially-kitted-out ovipositor, males can’t sting at all. What they get instead is, uh, not much better, though. More on that tomorrow!