This is what a honeybee looks like as it loses its stinger

For those who have always wondered exactly why honeybees die after stinging an animal, this photograph spells it out more keenly than any verbal description could, capturing a doomed bee as it zips away from its stinger, its abdominal tissue spilling out behind it.

Kathy Keatley Garvey, a communications specialist at the UC Davis Department of Entomology, took this photo at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. When apiculturist Eric Mussen told Garvey he was about to be stung by one of the facility's honeybees, Garvey grabbed her camera and started shooting. (She wasn't ignoring some plea for help; he told her to take a photo.) A combination of preparedness and luck resulted in four photos, including this one, which Garvey believes are the first of their kind. She had only seen the phenomenon of the abdominal tissue trailing behind a honeybee illustrated in a textbook.

The photograph above won first place gold in the Association for Communication Excellence awards, and reminded the Internet that, as painful as a bee sting may be, it's way more horrifying from the honeybee's perspective.

See the photos in their full, high-resolution glory at Bug Squad.

The Sting [Bug Squad via The Sacramento Bee via MetaFilter]