A couple of years ago, I posted out the picture on the left, titled "The sharpest end of a paper wasp".
At that time, DaveW posed the following question:
I did not know the answer, and somehow the question has bothered me ever since.If a wasp sting is barbed but it can extract it from your flesh without ripping it's sting from it's body why is a bee supposed to kill itself when it stings because it's sting I understand is ripped from it's body and remains in your flesh with the venom sack still pumping. Does a bee have far more pronounced barbs on it's sting?
Yesterday I found a dying honeybee, and today it yielded up the information seen above.
Yes, the honeybee does have far more pronounced barbs!
This is great, I really like having questions answered. But it's the usual story: each answer prompts another question. (Usually more than one...)
The new question, which I'm hoping Betty can answer, is "What might be the stuff on the end of the honeybee's stinger?" In the picture above, it appears to be an integral part of the structure, but interactively under the microscope, it appears to be some bit of gummy residue that is not water soluble. (I haven't tried any other solvents yet.) This was not quite a fresh prep, but the specimen was only frozen first.
The new image is Canon 300D camera, Olympus CH microscope base, Nikon CF M-Plan 20X NA 0.40 ELWD objective at 21X, pingpong ball diffuser with dual fiber halogen illumination, 0.25 second at ISO 100, 42-frame stack at 5 microns focus step, Zerene Stacker DMap plus retouching.
Edit: to change title