Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is it true that wasps don't sting if struck by hand while flying? I know of one person who claims to have done this at least 20 times and has never been stung. And out of curiosity (not that I'd want to kill them), what about bees?

share|improve this question
The other answers are fine and good, but I can confirm, using solid anecdotal evidence, that it is indeed possible to be stung when swatting bees and wasps. I've done it, and I don't recommend it. – Amory Aug 24 '13 at 15:25
I agree with @Amory here as I know of folks being stung when driving cabrio cars. Not struck by hand but by a 80 km/h headbutt :) – Christiaan Jul 13 '15 at 12:43
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think what your friend advised is incorrect, or they are very lucky. According to "Bee and Wasp Stings" from the University of California Davis, they specifically state:

Unless someone accidentally collides quite hard with or swats at a bee or wasp, it is not likely to sting.

Also, if you swat at some species, they are likely to become agitated, making the situation potentially far worse.

share|improve this answer

I can confirm that I have often enough slapped a wasp or bee in flight without being stung. The reason is probably pure chance.

It is kind of like asking if a human can bite when slapped. If I come up to you and slap you, fast and hard, you will probably not be able to bite my hand because of surprise and the blinding speed with which I hit you. If, however, you happen to be talking to me and have your mouth open at the time, you might be able to pull off a quick bite.

In a similar vein, if I happen to swap a wasp (no anagram intended) and hit it on the sting, I will probably be stung. If I hit it on the side and move fast enough, I doubt it will have the time to reorient itself and sting me before my hand is gone.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.