If a bee attacks you, it will die as a result. Many of us have recounted this tale at one time or another, but is it really true?

Some bees do die, but others don't.

Not all bee species are capable of stinging.

There are an estimated 20,000 species of bees across the globe, and not all of them sting, according to a Penn State student.

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There is a group of bees called the "stingless bees", as well as the "mining bees", which are so reduced as to be mostly useless.

Most of the stingless bees are found in the tropics. Nicholas Naeger, a molecular biologist at Washington State University who has been studying bees for over two decades, said that bees bite rather than stinging, and often have elaborate nest entrances to deter invaders.

What about the bees that sting? What causes some people to survive and others to die?

honeybees will most often die as a result of being stung. It is barbed, which catches within the skin, allowing the sting to remain in place and continue to pump venom into the unfortunate sting recipient.

An extreme close-up of honey bee (apis mellifera). The bee is facing the camera and is covered in yellow pollen. It is sitting on a pink and yellow flower.

An extreme close-up of a honey bee (Apis mellifera) covered in pollen. (Image credit: Claudio Cavalensi via Getty Images)

According to Naeger, honeybees do not tend to die when they are stung by other insects orrachnids. This is because the sting can pierce an insect's thin exoskeleton and be used to extract it. Asian giant hornets, also known as murder hornets, whose thick outer skin shields them from Japanese honeybees, are not the same as honeybees.

Ray said that human skin is much thicker than most insects.

Ray explained that when a bee flies away after stinging a person, the body of the bee is disemboweling the individual. The bee with a hole in its abdomen might live for several hours after stinging, but eventually it will succumb to fluid loss and internal organ failure.

honeybees are the most common bee species in the world and are incapable of surviving after stinging a human-like target, according to research carried out by Naeger.

He said that he never saw a single case of a bee being alive the day after it was stung.

Other bees are able to live after stinging a human. Ray said that bumblebees have a smooth sting and are able to sting multiple times without dying.

Other flying stinging insects, such as hornets and wasp, have a smooth sting which allows them to attack a target multiple times without dying.

Why don't poisonous animals die from their own toxins?

Why do bees sting?

What makes honeybees go on the offensive? Are they aggressive or not?

Honeybees, like most bees, are timid when they are away from their hive and have nothing to protect.

The bee's reputation as a combative insect may have been sullied by another winged sting.

A lot of insect sting that are blamed on bees are actually committed by wasp, which is bolder and more aggressive than bees.

Here we see a beekeeper wearing a protective white bee suit. They are holding a honeycomb in front of them, whilst surrounding by a swarm of bees.

To protect themselves from bee stings, beekeepers wear special bee suits and veils. (Image credit: Johnrob via Getty Images)

It is worth noting that some bee species don't have the ability to sting.

Female bees tend to outnumber male bees. The average bee population has a female-to-male ratio of around 5 to 1.

Female bees are happy to fight as a team.

If any perceived threat is too large for a solitary female bee to manage on her own, she is able to call on her sisters for help.

Iredale told Live Science that she releases an alarm pheromone that her sisters recognize as a cue to defend the colony.

To bee, or not to bee

Is there any chance that the honeybee will know what will happen when it is stung by a human or mammal? Are they aware of the fact that they are signing their own death certificate when they pierce their skin?

I don't think honeybees understand that they are going to die when they sting, but they are willing to give up their lives for the sake of the colony.

Both Iredale and Ray support this.

Whether they are aware of the influences driving their decision-making and the personal consequences of their stinging behavior is not obvious.

Iredale said that bees are unlikely to be aware of the consequences of stinging a human.

It was originally published on Live Science.