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
yellow jacket honey bee
- 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 yellow jackets, which are notoriously bad-tempered little things that look enough like honey bees to give them a bad rap. Yellow jackets have no barbs in their stinger and can sting you multiple times. Yellow jackets are wasps, very different insects from honey bees, and have slick bodies and eat meat. Honey bees are fuzzy, and only eat nectar, pollen and water.
IF YOU ARE STUNG, "BEE" calm - Very few people are allergic
- Only one out of every 1500 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. So the average 150 pound person can withstand 1500 stings without dying.
- 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.
SYMPTOMS OF A PROBLEM AFTER BEING STUNG
- If you are stung on your foot or hand and your hand or foot swells up on or near the site of the sting, that is normal. But if you are stung on your hand or foot and your lips or eyelids swell, or you develop a rash on your chest or face, of a thick feeling in your hands or lips, etc. those are NON-LOCAL REACTIONS, and symptoms of a possible allergic problem. You should probably take a benadryl tablet or even two (depending on your size and age, follow bottle directions). Find someone to help you examine your arms and back for reactions and consider going to an emergency room. You don't have to check in immediately, you can just sit in the waiting room until you feel you need to get assistance there. Allergic reactions can develop in those who have not had them before. Bee safe and take action.
BEE-HAVIORS TO AVOID
- Honeybees are agitated by vibration, such as caused by heavy equipment. Avoid mowing around hives.
- Honeybees communicate via smell. Avoid perfumes and other artificial smells they may misinterpret.
- Quick movements are a trigger for defensive behavior and honey bees excel at detecting movement. 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.