Image: Stingless Bee Tetragonula carbonaria

Stingless Bee Tetragonula carbonaria

Stingless Bee, Tetragonula carbonaria, also known as the Sugarbag Bee

Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum

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David Britton - 9.11 AM, 28 November 2011

Hi Gary,

Thanks for your observations on Trigona - despite being stingless they are far from helpless when it comes to defending their hive, especially from other invertebrates (although my hive always has a few of the parasitic hoverflies buzzing around it at this time of year). Most bees are capable of producing secretions from mandibular glands, and the secretions from Trigona can be mixed with resin to produce a noxious glue-like substance. It is very effective at stopping small hive beetle. I assume that it must be the mandibular secretions that have caused your reactions.

Kidbee - 10.11 PM, 13 November 2011
I note on the Museum website that they state there are no known allergies to Trigona Carbonaria or stingless bees. Being a beekeeper of honeybees for some thirty years I have had thousands of their stings with little effect. I also have Trigona colonies which I split from time to time. They do not sting but give a nip with their mandibles when in their defence mode, especially when you are pulling their nest apart. I have had red, painful, itchy areas that have lasted a week especially when I have been bitten in the inner elbow area and on the knees. Which makes me think that when they break the skin they have some substance on their mandibles that cause the reaction.

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