How to bEE safe
Leave them bee
- Honeybees are really more in danger from us than we are from them. They are not naturally aggressive. Unless you threaten their hive or swat at them you are not likely to be stung.
- Honeybee swarms are not naturally aggressive either. See below.
Stinging Hurts you - but it kills them
- Stinging you is a honeybee's final act. They have barbs on their stinger that catch in your skin. As they try to leave the stinger pulls out their abdomen, which kills them. (This is not true of yellowjackets, which are notoriously bad-tempered little things that look a little like a yellow honeybee, and can sting you multiple times. See picture to right.) (Honeybee to right here.)
IF YOU ARE STUNG, "BEE" calm - Very few people are allergic
- Only one out of every 1000 people is allergic to bee stings (allergic = subject to a dangerous systemic reaction).
- According to the USDA, the average person can withstand 10 stings to every 1 pound of body weight.
- It will hurt intensely for a minute or so, but it will get better.
- Use a fingernail, credit card or knife to scrape the stinger and barb out of your skin. The abdominal venom sac continues to pulse after separation from the bee, and will pump more venom under the skin unless you remove the stinger.
- Wipe or smoke or spit on the stung area to remove the scent released by the bee. That smell marks where other bees should sting!
- It appears likely that more people consider themselves "allergic" than actually are. When you're stung on the foot, swelling of the foot is normal, swelling of your face from such a sting is a sign of a systemic reaction, as is a stomach rash or shortness of breath. Seek medical help immediately upon such reactions.
BEE-HAVIORS TO AVOID
- Honeybees are agitated by vibration, such as caused by heavy equipment
- Honeybees communicate via smell. The smell of bananas is the scent they use to signal danger and attack. Don't eat one on your way to the hive and avoid perfumes.
- Quick movements are a trigger for defensive behavior. Keep your motions slow and even. Never flick or swat.
- Dark clothing upsets honeybees. Probably because it looks like a bear to them. This is why beekeeping clothing is white.
WORST CASE SCENARIO ADVICE: When one honeybee stings and releases its attack scent ("pheromone") it encourages other bees to sting. If sting after sting is delivered and the scent increases, the momentum can build to the point where large numbers of bees react. The only thing to do in this situation is get away - as quickly as possible - to an enclosed area or far enough that the bees do not follow. RUN. If you fall, get up. Pull your shirt over your head to cover your mouth, nose, eyes and ears, where stings are particularly painful and troublesome. You can manage stings on your back and arms much better. Once safe, quickly remove all stingers carefully without squeezing them as shown above. This all sounds horrible, but you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than experiencing this - so worry about winning the lottery instead.