Since my flock shares a backyard with tens of thousands of honey bees, I wanted to understand the possible implications of a bee sting to one of them. Should chickens kept in the same yard as bees expect to be stung? What happens when a chicken is stung by a bee- do they respond physically the same way people do? Will the sting hurt, swell or itch? Should they be treated with medication?
Unfortunately, I could find no authoritative discussion of this subject, so I asked a veterinarian who also keeps chickens and bees in her backyard for her expert insight. Dr. Alexzandra Mosel, DVM, a practicing veterinarian in Connecticut, told me that there is a lot of misleading information about raising chickens and honey bees together and was happy to help address the questions.
Some chicken keepers place their beehive(s) inside their chicken run to provide them the same security from raccoons, bears, and skunks that it offers chickens, and while bees may occasionally sting a chicken that gets too close to the entrance of a beehive, she does so only in defense of her colony. Honey bees won’t seek out victims aggressively as wasps can. Dr. Mosel said that most chickens heal from a bee sting without intervention and will ordinarily keep a respectful distance from the hives thereafter.
My beehives share the backyard with my chickens’ coops.
These three honey bees (apis mellifera) killed the yellow jacket (wasp) as it attempted to get into the hive. Wasps are aggressive, honey bees only sting defensively.