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Can Bees Bite – Bees & Beekeeping Information

illustration of bear running away from bees

Bees are an integral part to the growth of our agriculture and ecosystem. They're a living necessity that are unappreciated and often considered as disposable pests undeserving to live alongside us in society. What many fail to realize is that they are single-handedly responsible for the pollination and spreading of some of our favorite edible crops, flowers, and plants.

But despite their good intentions and industrious demeanor, bees have the tendency to sting us, our pets, and even other animals but, we have a question many probably never thought to ask, can bees bite?

Different Species Of Bees

Before we answer the question "can bees bite," let's cover some basics about bees. A majority of metropolitan and developed cities/countries have no choice but to coexist with bees.

In most of these advanced societies, honeybees are the dominant bee species but, cases of aggressive Africanized bees are occasionally reported, resulting in the hospitalization of some of their victims.

Unfortunately, these instances give our pollinating, flying friends a bad reputation when in reality, bees have no intentions of interfering with humans unless we become a direct threat to their production.

Bees' entire existence focus on the pollination of flowers and plants and protecting their living spaces and queen.

And this goes for all bee species found around the world, check out this entire list of bee species and the other insects that mimic their aesthetic/actions:

Bee on the flower

Bee Species:

  • Honeybees (Apis mellifera)
  • Bumblebees (Genus: Bombus)
  • Mason Bees (Genus: Osmia)
  • Leaf-cutter Bees (Genus: Megachile)
  • Blueberry Bees (Habropoda laboriosa; Southeastern blueberry bee)
  • Squash Bees (Genera: Peponapis and Xenoglossa)
  • Sweat Bees (Various genera)


Bee-Mimicking Insects:

  • Honeybees (Apis mellifera)
  • Hoverflies (Order Diptera, family Syrphidae)
  • Yellow Jackets (Genus: Vespula or Dolichovespula)
  • Paper Wasps (Family: Vespidae)
  • Potter Wasps (Family: Vespidae)
  • Hornets (Family: Vespidae)

These different bee species carry out their duties of pollination, reproduction, and can sting but it still raises the thought-provoking question, can bees bite?

Can Bees Bite?

So, can bees bite? Many of us have the experienced the painful sting of a bee but have never known about or experienced the numbing bite of one of nature's greatest architects and horticulturists in existence. Ultimately, yes, bees do bite their targets, but this rarely occurs when confronting humans.

Bees usually refer to biting as a second line of defense for beehive invading arthropods including wax moth larva and Varroa mites that destroy/eat bee wax and pollen.

These bee bites deliver a temporary paralyzing anesthetic that allows for guard bees to eject their victims from their hives and continue their daily functions.

Fortunately and unfortunately, for us, we'll never have to worry about the bite of the bee but still have to be cautious of the stinging ability of the fruitful insect.

bee on a flower

How The Bee Bites Paralyze

When a bee bites its intended target, it's not to kill their victim, but to temporarily disable them from moving in order for their victims to extract from the premises.

Bees secrete a paralyzing anesthetic compound substance by the name of 2-heptanone (2-H) into the wound of their targets causing the bitten insect to become fully paralyzed for up to nine minutes before regaining consciousness and maneuverability.

Researchers have discovered that 2-heptanone (2-H) has many functions for bees including:

  • The compound could be used as a chemical marker
  • An alarm pheromone to signal/recruit guard bees to the targeted area
  • A temporary paralysis agent and more

This recently discovered defense mechanism for our plant-loving insect friends acts similar to that of snake venom as the mandibles of the bee pump the non-lethal compound, 2-H into their victims in order for the colony to continue their duties as pollinators and breeders but, without the factor of guaranteed death for invading enemies.

The Surprising Benefits Of Bee Bites

smiling bee illustration

Some of you might wonder how the insect-paralyzing bite of a bee could benefit humankind and a multitude of other animal species out there. Well, 2-heptanone abbreviated as, 2-H, acts similarly to the numbing medication known as lidocaine.

A team of Greek and French researchers collaborated with the UK-based honeybee health specialist company, Vita LTD, and conducted experimentation comparing both 2-H and lidocaine.

The researchers used voltage-gated sodium channels by the name of hNav1.6 and hNav1.2, both of which are human proteins encoded by the SCN2A gene and the results of the comparison tests showed that the nerve endings were successfully blocked causing the sensation of numbness by both 2-H and lidocaine.

Now, that the previously unknown anesthetic compound, 2-H, and its effects of minor neurotoxicity are found in bee bites, scientists claim a new natural-based anesthetic can be developed using the substance for both human and veterinary medications.
 
Not only does the secreted bee bite compound have potential uses for medicinal usage, but 2-H could also guide bees toward suffering crops for pollination and to control the population of harmful arthropods and Varroa mites.

Ph.D. Alexandros Papachristoforou, who was working at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, had this to say about the researchers' discovery,

"Beekeepers will be very surprised by our discovery, and it is likely to cause a radical rethink of some long-held beliefs. It will probably stimulate honeybee research in many new directions. For instance, many beekeepers have spoken of the 'grooming' behavior of honeybees in helping to control varroa populations. This grooming behavior can now be interpreted as biting behavior."

Why Do Bees Attack People?

As previously mentioned, bees really have no desire to take part in any violent confrontation whether it be other animals or human beings. When bees are in search of nectar and pollen, they usually do so individually and avoid using their poisonous stingers at all cost but, when bees are trying to display strength in numbers, they can become potentially dangerous.  

There is a multitude of reasonable explanations for why bees attack people and other animals including:

  • Targets potentially disturbing/destroying their nests
  • Disoriented bees that find themselves in enclosed spaces with other living beings
  • Hot and humid conditions that cause them to be exceptionally aggressive

For larger animals, bees don't resort to biting their victims like they do with other insects, they use their stingers to unleash a painful attack. 

Bee stingers are filled with a poison called apitoxin,which is injected into their targets and releases a pheromone that attracts and signal other bees to attack the desired target as a swarm.

Luckily, even a massive amount of bee stings aren't deadly unless you have a bee allergy, which might cause victims to slip into anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, death could be prevented by seeking immediate medical attention, but all bee stings can be painful for recipients.

Bee Conservation

Now that you're fully informed on the biting and stinging power/benefits of bees, we have to do our best to preserve the livelihood and living spaces of our flying, gardening partners.

Unfortunately, from April 2016 to March 2017, a third of the nation's bee colonies died causing this to be more than a local societal issue but an international pandemic that could affect cropand plant growth on a global level.

What's Causing This Massive Drop In Bee Population?

Even though we've seen a recent surge in bee population over the course of six months, conservation efforts for the entire bee species should be taken seriouslyon a global level to protect them.

According to the assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and Project Director for the Bee Informed Partnership, Ph.D. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, bees have been facing serious challenges over the past three decades. PhD D. vanEngelsdorp conducted a survey for beekeepers and found the following three reasons to be the main cause in the recent drastic dip of the bee population:

The Introduction Of The Varroa Mite From Asia Thirty Years Ago

The varroa mite made its way to Florida by way of Asia in the 1980s and even though bees can bite and extract these pests from their nest, the mite carries a virus that honeybees have B. 

Unfortunately, the bothersome pests that feed on bee nests and wax can easily transfer the virus from mite to mite making just three varroa mites an extreme concern to 100 bees in their proximity.

Poor Bee Nutrition

Natural resources regarding massive flowerbeds, plant fields, and crops are becoming limited. And with some of these spaces becoming chemically controlled, bees cannot find bountiful, untainted nectar and pollen sources to feed their larvae causing bee colonies to become significantly weaker.

Pesticides, Fungicides, And Insecticides

This is the most commonly known reason for the recent decline in the bee population. Chemical farmers spraying their crops with harmful pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides have killed bees by the millions.

This is a difficult factor for beekeepers to monitor being they can't control where the bees go to gather pollen/nectar from. Also, the effect of pesticide poisoning isn't instantaneous and develops over the course of three to four months after they are exposed to harmful chemicals, causing an extreme and random spike in the mortality rate of bee colonies.

Can Bees Bite? - Conclusion

We know the answer to the question "can bees bite." We know that their bites are not harmful to humans or large animals, and how these bee bites can benefit the world. We have to do our best to protect the species by any means necessary. Do your part and educate those around you regarding the decreasing bee population so we can save the precious living resource we know as bees.

Suit And Hat Beekeeping Review And More: A Complete Buyer’s Guide

"Got a bee in your bonnet?" This charming little phrase refers to someone who is hopping mad, which is probably what you'll be if you spend a lot of time and money on a bee suit and hat only to discover that it isn't effective.

If you're looking to get into beekeeping as a hobby, you're going to need a quality suit and hat that offer comprehensive protection. If you're already an apiary all-star and have been beekeeping for years, you might be looking to avoid making the same mistakes you made with your first beekeeper suit purchase.

Chances are you're probably going to be ordering online. This creates a whole new set of questions and concerns; at least it did for me. How do I know if the product I'm looking at is actually any good? Will it fit me properly? How's it going to hold up the first time I wear it out? What about after I've had it a few years?

Finding The Suit And Hat That Suit You

It's important to know what to look for when shopping around for a bee suit and hat. Some things you should be looking for aren't obvious to the uninitiated. For starters, you've got to consider the fabric. Most suits are either a blend, or they're made entirely from cotton. The 100% cotton suits will certainly keep things nice and breezy inside, which is a must on hot days.

There are three different shapes of veils to choose from. There's a round veil, a fencing veil, and a square veil. Round veils offer the widest field of view, fencing veils are perfect if you don't want your hair getting in your face, and the square veil is the most practical for when it comes time to store your hat in a carrying bag.

My preference is for the rounded veil, but like many of the features of any suit, it's a matter of personal preference. You'll want to discover what you like and what you don't from trial and error.

Pest M​​​​all Complete Beekeeper Suit

Complete Bee Keeper Suit Helmet Pants Gloves Pest Control bee wasps...
  • Complete Bee Keeper suit For Sale By Pestcontrolpross
  • You Have to email the size of suit you want when you order when you order..
  • Suit will not ship til you send me the size. Large, or Extra Large or XXL

The focus of this review is a nifty suit and hat combination, the Pest Mall Complete Beekeeper suit. It's a good example of a high-quality suit. The hat and veil are a single piece which ensures that the two can't become separated. This means your bonnet remains protected and bee-free.  

For a beekeeper suit and hat, one size does not fit all. I found out that Pest Mall takes this axiom seriously when I tried to order their complete Beekeeper suit. The product will not even ship unless you give specific size instructions, which, at least at first, I considered somewhat a pain. I had to submit my body, including my waistline, to scrutiny. Not so much fun.  

But that was before I considered how powerfully important getting the proper size can be for someone who loves beekeeping but has a risk of serious allergic reaction. Considering that this insistence on getting the right fit might save someone from going into anaphylactic shock from a bee sting put fishing my measuring tape of the closet so I could measure myself into a new perspective.

Obviously, a suit that's too snug isn't what you want, nor one that is loose enough for a stray bee to find its way in. I felt that the bespoke, or rather "beespoke," size options helped me to avoid either extreme and end up with a suit and hat which may not fit as advertised.  

Product Specs  

The Pest Mall Complete Beekeeper comes with the suit and hat and all the components you'd expect. It comes equipped with a lightweight helmet, a pair of gloves, and two side pockets.

The hat is a pith helmet with three squarish window veils. Of all the various shapes of veils, square-shaped veils aren't my favorite. I prefer the rounded veils because it's easier for me to forget I'm wearing it even with the mesh screen. However, the advantage of the side windows on the square veil is that they help with ventilation. A nice cross breeze coming from either side can be welcome on a hot day.  

You want the protection of polyester, but the breathability of cotton and the Pest Mall Complete suit is a blend of both. If you've never worn a beekeeper suit in July, then you may underestimate just how important proper ventilation is to keeping yourself (at least relatively) cool. If you know the feeling of beekeeping on a warm day, you'll be relieved to know this suit doesn't overheat.

When looking over the stitchwork, I was pleased that they had reinforced them with double stitching, so the suit is much less likely to develop small rips or tears in the long period. Since this is an investment that will last for years, quality workmanship should be among your top considerations when shopping.

I was also pleased with having the choice of three different glove sizes. Having varying size options meant that it was easy to find a pair that fits me, well, like a pair of gloves. The perfect fit is essential since bees defending their honey will be especially eager to go after a pair of hands that are reaching inside their hive.

Pricing  

The Pest Mall Complete isn't the cheapest of the beekeeper suits in this review. If price is your chief consideration, then it's understandable that you might go for another model. At least one is roughly 50% cheaper, which means this one is not a contender for the budget conscious.

That said, if you're willing to pay a little more for a quality product, then this is one to keep your eye on. And it's still cheaper than some of its competitors, like the Natural Apiary Max Protect. There's a roughly $20 dollar price difference between both the Pest Mall Complete and the Humble Bee suit. I checked around and found that many of those who bought the Pest Mall Complete were happy with the quality.

How it Compares

Here are a few similar products available that fit into the same category as the Pest Mall Complete Beekeeper suit.  

  • Natural Apiary Max Protect Beekeeping Suit
  • Humble Bee Polycotton Bee Suit with Fencing Veil
  • Eco-keeper Premium Beekeeping Suit
Pest Mall Complete BeeKeeper Suit
Price
$$
Ease of Use
Assembly Time
Design Quality
Warranty
(info not available)

PROS

  • High-quality stitching
  • Durable stitchwork
  • 3 sizes of gloves available

CONS

  • Relatively cost
  • Heavier fabric
  • Fewer pockets
NATURAL APIARY - Max Protect Beekeeping Suit - Camouflage - Clear View...
  • MAX PROTECT Beekeepers Suit for Confidence & Safety
  • STRONG CLEARVIEW NYLON VEIL for Maximum Visibility
  • 100% FINE WEAVE COTTON for Extra Strength & Comfort

Since most of the suit and hat beekeeper outfits we're reviewing here are white with maybe a little beige, the Natural Apiary Max Protect is immediately striking because it's available in camouflage print.

The standard white makes sense, given that the bees are less attracted to it, but I'm surprised that more manufacturers don't take advantage of this opportunity to stand out from the rest, even while the print suggests blending in with the environment. I didn't notice that the bees were particularly interested in the camo; they didn't swarm it.  

The suit is fully machine washable, which is a real advantage if you're spending hours in it regularly. I noticed right away it was in a higher price bracket, but it's got a few features that help to justify the added cost, at least for some consumers. For starters, the warranty allows you to replace the suit for any reason. It's designed to be a cut above in terms of sting protection.  

I noticed that my vision was unobscured thanks to the high-quality made from nylon. The rest of the suit is all cotton, so it's around 2 pounds lighter than the Pest Mall Complete Beekeeper suit. The velcro pockets were also very handy to keep tools and other small objects secure.

The cost of the Natural Apiary Max Protect is the highest of all the products in this review at around $150. Some will feel that the price seems justified because of the high-quality materials used.

Natural Apiary Max Protect Beekeeping Suit
Price
$$$
Ease of Use
Assembly Time
Design Quality
Warranty

PROS

  • Polyester/Cotton blend
  • Machine washable fabric
  • Glove seals are elastic

CONS

  • Less-precise sizes
  • Detachable veil might come undone
  • Big and tall sizes are limited
Sale
Humble Bee 411-L Polycotton Beekeeping Suit with Fencing Veil (Large)
  • Polycotton beekeeper suit with collapsible fencing veil, heavy duty brass zippers, durable double-stitched pockets, and...
  • Medium-weight 50% cotton / 50% synthetic blend (280 gsm) provides outstanding protection against bee stings, plus...
  • Tailored fit with an elastic waist, elastic wrists, and elastic ankles, plus thumb and foot holds to keep everything...

One thing I noticed when I put on the suit and hat was that the size I'd ordered was slightly off. They advertise the suit as unisex and says it fits all sizes, but even though I followed the size guide; I still felt it was a little snug. However, it wasn't so snug as to make me worry about stings, or that the fabric would rip. The waistband was elastic which helped keep it from feeling confining.  

Although the cost is near the higher end, though still slightly lower than the Pest Mall Complete, I liked that 10% of the proceeds from the sale went to charity. The actual beneficiaries of this charitable donation were not mentioned. It apparently benefits "local" beekeepers and supports conservation. How it does this exactly may require a little more sleuthing than I was willing to do.

It surprised me to note that for the price that the set didn't come equipped with a pair of gloves and that I needed to purchase these separately. This was kind of a letdown after getting a pair from the Pest Mall Complete suit and hat set. 

Humble Bee Polycotton Bee Suit with Fencing Veil
Price
$$
Ease of Use
Assembly Time
Design Quality
Warranty
(not available)

Pros

  • Brass zipper
  • Socially-conscious brand
  • Multiple tool pockets

Cons

  • Relatively high cost
  • Size runs smaller than advertised
  • Doesn't come with gloves
Eco-keeper Premium Beekeeping Suit with Bee Veil - (Bee Suit) - Medium
  • BEST BEE KEEPER SUIT ON THE MARKET
  • fits up to height 5'9" -weight 148-170 lbs **
  • Approx. Height - 69", Approx. Chest - 52", Approx. Shoulder - 25"

The first thing that caught my attention about the Eco-Keeper Premium Beekeeper suit was that it was much cheaper than the other beekeeping suits available. It's only about $65, meaning it is less than half of some other suits which appear in this review.

This made me wonder whether the manufacturer had skimped some on quality in order to bring the Eco-Keeper Premium to such a competitive price point. But while the material is lightweight, it still delivers what it promises: it keeps you from getting stung.

The secret is apparently the way the fabric is woven. It's durable and prevents stingers from penetrating the cloth. The rounded veil was right up my alley, but when I looked, I didn't see as many sizes available in stock. The manufacturer also stresses that the sizes are approximate.

It blew me away that such a low-cost option could still deliver a high-level quality, though without some of the bells and whistles of the other beekeeper outfits. You won't find brass zippers or lots of pockets with reinforced stitching, but it's still a solid buy.  

Eco-keeper Premium Beekeeping Suit
Price
$
Ease of Use
Assembly Time
Design Quality
Warranty
(info not available)

PROS

  • Low cost
  • Double cotton
  • Lightweight design

CONS

  • Less size specificity
  • No reinforced stitching 
  • No gloves included

Conclusion

The fact that it's "beespoke," or at least fitted to your exact size needs even if it's not exactly made for you, is definitely the selling point of the Pest Mall Complete Beekeeper Suit. The choice of whether this is the right suit for you will come down to personality and what you value.

Can Bees Kill You? And Other Facts – Bees & Beekeeping Information

When trying to shoo a bee away from food at a cookout, "Can bees kill you?" is not the first thought that crosses the mind of most people. However, for an individual allergic to bee stings, the answer to this question may be yes. An allergy to bee stings can turn a mildly painful sting into a life-threatening situation. So, can bees kill you?

Can Bees Kill You?


How Do Bee Sting Allergies Work?

When a honeybee stings, the stinger detaches from the bee along with a sac of venom. The venom is then injected into the skin and alerts the immune system causing an allergic reaction. This allergic reaction can be classified as either local or systemic reactions. Someone experiencing a local allergic reaction will have redness and swelling around the site of the sting. While irritating, this reaction alone is not life-threatening. Systemic allergic reactions affect the whole body.

They can range from mild to severe. Mild systemic reactions may result in a full body rash that is not life-threatening. Severe systemic allergic reactions can be life-threatening; including symptoms such as dizziness or trouble breathing. Those who suffer from a severe reaction may have been exposed to enough venom to experience other symptoms.

The venom contains two different substances that are cause for concern: meletin and phospholipase A2. Meletin causes the pain commonly associated with bee stings while phospholipase A2 can damage tissue it touches. This puts anyone who receives a dose of venom, even if they do not experience an allergic reaction, at high risk of kidney failure as the body works to expel the phospholipase A2.

Unlike phospholipase A2 toxicity, Anaphylaxis poses an immediate threat to those undergoing a severe systemic reaction. Anaphylaxis occurs in a small portion of individuals and is the primary way a bee sting can kill you.


What Is An Anaphylactic Reaction?

bee sting

Image Source: Flickr

An anaphylactic reaction occurs when the immune system mistakes an allergen, such as the chemicals in bee venom, for a pathogen. This sends the immune system into overdrive.

One of the body's immediate responses is to signal mast cells, the immune system's first responder, to release chemicals into the body that would help if the body were under attack. Unfortunately, these chemicals are being released unnecessarily and end up causing a variety of symptoms described as an anaphylactic reaction.

These symptoms include rashes, inflammation that closes the airways, an upset stomach, and a drop in blood pressure. The drop in blood pressure and inability to breathe can cause an individual to lose consciousness and potentially die.


How Do You Survive and Anaphylactic Reaction?

Immediate treatment for an anaphylactic reaction is injection with an EpiPen. This pen contains epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, which counteracts the immune system response by opening the airways. Individuals treated with an EpiPen should still seek medical attention.

Individuals who have experienced severe systemic reactions to bee stings may be able to receive long-term treatment to reduce their risk of repeating the experience. This treatment involves exposure to small amounts of bee venom under the supervision of a specially trained physician. The goal is to desensitize the immune system to the bee venom.


What Puts Someone At Risk For An Anaphylactic Reaction?

A major risk factor for experiencing an anaphylactic reaction is having experienced a system reaction caused by a bee sting. According to Dr. Yong of the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, "Once you've had one generalized reaction there is a 30 to 60 percent chance you will have another, and it could be much worse."

Additionally, Dr. Shuaib Nasser of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge says, "Drinking alcohol, exercise, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, or having viral infections, poorly controlled asthma or heart problems can put you at higher risk of having an anaphylactic reaction following a sting." These factors all increase an individual's risk even if they have been stung before without experiencing a systemic reaction.


Reactions To Bee Stings Are A Growing Concern

Suprisingly enough, the answer to the question "can bees kill you," is yes. Reactions to bee stings are a growing concern. The number of individuals experiencing severe systemic reactions is on the rise.

Many adults are unaware of the risks that a single bee sting may pose. Individuals being stung for the first time are experiencing more severe reactions. More concerning is that individuals that have been stung in the past are unaware that the severity of each reaction can increase from sting to sting.

Recent United Kingdom National Health Service figures reported that there were 22,377 admissions for allergies in England in 2015, with 12,819 reported as emergencies. The total number of admissions for anaphylaxis was up over 9 percent from 2010-2011, at 4,000 admissions.

Of deaths from anaphylaxis, bee and wasp stings were responsible for 70 percent. There are ten fatal insect stings in the United Kingdom per year. This number is higher in the United States; which reports up to 40 fatal bee attacks alone per year. The difference in number may be due to the expansion of Africanized honey bee territory. While Africanized honey bees are no more toxic, explained Dr. May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois, the stings inflicted in one attack are substantially more numerous.

Killer Bees?!

killer bee or africanised bee

Image Source: Flickr

When asking the question "can bees kill you," the first thing that often comes to mind is someone with an allergy to bees. But there is such a thing as killer bees.

Africanized honey bees are the result of the cross-breeding between European honey bees with their African counterparts. As this new species of bee was created, some of the bees escaped and entered the wild. Their territory has been expanding into the United States from South America at a rate of about 60 miles per year.

Their current territory includes Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, Southern California, Southern Louisiana, Southwest Arkansas, Southern Georgia and Eastern Tennessee. Any hive in this area, particularly in Texas, should be treated as if they contain Africanized honey bees.

The expansion of this territory may be responsible for the rise in bee attacks in the United States. In a Seeker article, Eric Mussen of UC Davis enumerated that many of the characteristics of this bee species supports this theory.

Africanized honey bees are more defensive and dominant than their European counterparts. When aggravated, a hive of Africanized honey bees can deliver upwards of 2,000 bee stings. This is a major contrast with the usual 12-200 stings someone attacked by a swarm of European honey bees may experience

What Should You Do When Bees Attack?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say. Always be aware of your surroundings outdoors. Vibrations from a lawnmower, or many feet passing by, are enough to disturb a hive and rouse a colony. If you can avoid rousing a hive of honey bees, you can avoid being swarmed.

Mussen advises those hiking in areas known to have a high bee population carry netting to cover your head in the event of an attack. It may also be wise to carry antihistamines when taking part in outdoor activities. Anyone with a known bee allergy should have an EpiPen on their person.

In The Event You Are Attacked By Bees:


Do not swat the bees.

This will only further irritate them. This may get you or someone nearby you stung. Swatting bees may hurt them, and when hurt, bees emit a scent that signals others to join the attack. Minimizing the signal sent out to the other bees is prudent.


Contrary to popular belief, jumping into a pool is not advised.

Bees may wait above the water to sting you when you come up for air.


Always run away!

Try to run through brush or shrubs if you cannot make it to a shelter immediately. This will minimize the ones that can successfully land on you and brush off those that may have already landed on your clothing. Depending on the species of bee attacking you, you may need to run a long way. Swarms of Africanized honey bees have chased people for over half a mile or more before giving up the pursuit.


If you can, seek shelter in a place you can secure against bees.

Examples would be a car or a house. Make sure to close the door behind you. This seems obvious, but in a panic, stopping to shut the door might not be instinctive.


After you reach safety, carefully look for stingers and venom sacs that the bees may have left behind.

Detach them from the skin by gently scraping them away from the puncture with a fingernail or knife edge. Avoid squishing the venom sac as this can release more venom into the puncture.


Seek medical attention immediately.

Particularly, if you are experiencing systemic symptoms such as a full body rash or trouble breathing. Individuals with a bee allergy may experience such symptoms after only one or two stings.

Adults with no allergy may be able to withstand multiple stings but should still be cautious. No prior history of reactions does not guarantee a lack of future reaction.


Can Bees Kill You - Conclusion

The answer to the question "can bees kill you," is yes. However, you only need to be concerned if you have an allergy to bee stings, or if you are in an area with a more dangerous species of bees.

What Bees Dont Sting – Bees & Beekeeping Information

group of bees flying together

Most of us humans have a fear of bees. That is to say that we fear getting stung. It is painful and often swells up and then itches. It just isn't a fun experience at all. For this reason, we don't like bees. We eliminate them from our yards and properties as quickly as possible and sometimes go so far as to not venture to certain areas of the yard or even nature in general to honor this fear. But what bees don't sting?

However, most of our fear is based on what we honestly do not know. We assume that if there are bees in the area, they will sting us. After all, they are out to get us and our children. In reality, this is not the case
. Most bees, wasps, hornets, and the like are far more interested in going about their business foraging for nectar and pollen or mates than worrying about you.

What may be even more surprising to you is that most bees can not even sting you. Either they don't have stingers at all, or they are so small that they pose no threat to humans. So let's find out what bees don't sting.


All About Bees

Bees are very incredible creatures, and they are very important to life on Earth. Scientist and biologists around the world have named bees as a keystone species in most regions where they reside. This is a name given to species within an ecosystem that are so important that without them everything living in that area would die off and cease to exist as we know it.

So what makes them so special to our world? Their extreme pollination skills. There are many ways that plants and crops become pollinated, some even do it themselves. However, studies show that bees pollinate about 80% of the world's plants. These plants provide food and invaluable habitats for animals and wildlife species that are crucial to our existence. About 90 species of those plants are major commercialized crops that we as humans have come to rely on. We do not pollinate them.

The bees do. It is estimated that they have a work value of about $14.6 billion every year in the US alone. In the UK, they contribute more to the economy than tourism does to the royal family. That is a lot of free labor. Without the bees, those crops, such as almonds, watermelons, tomatoes, coffee, and many more, would all perish. We would not have a sustainable food source and neither would the rest of the world, wildlife included.


Therefore, it is important to not just rule out the bees because of our fear of being stung. We have to learn to live with them. The best way to do this is to understand more about them. If we know more about them, we will know if there is actually a threat to us or not, we will know what bees don't sting. And we will also know how best to interact with them for the betterment of both of our species.

bee focus back getting pollen on nectar flower

Why Do Some Bees Sting?

Bees may sting for several reasons. Most of us feel threatened by bees and imagine that they are just waiting around the next bend in the path to attack the unsuspecting human walking by. However, this is simply not the case. Any reason for a bee to sting you has to do with self-defense. Bees, like most animals, will defend themselves if they feel threatened.

If you are swatting at them, about to sit on them or walking on them, there is a good chance you might get stung. But they use this defense as a last resort. Most bees would rather fly away from harm if they can. If they are not left with another option, however, they may sting you. It is important to know most bees sting is barbed. This means that it sticks into your skin when they sting you. When they try to fly away, the sting will stay in you and pull out her intestines with it. She will then die shortly afterward. So you see why this is used as a last resort.

Several species of bees, such as the honey bees, may also sting if they feel that either their honey stores or their queen are in danger. This will happen if you are too close to their hive or colony. It is important to note that the queen bee can sting without losing her stinger. However, since they spend the majority of their time inside the hive breeding, the chances that you come across one is very slim.

These queens most often use their stinger to dominate over other queens in the hive and eventually eliminate them. They are used to establish their power and reign, very rarely will they ever use them to sting an intruder or human. After all, that is what they have worker bees for.

However, there are far more species of bees that live solitary lives than those that do not. Therefore, they do not have a queen to protect. Nor do they produce honey and have stores of it. Most solitary bees live in small holes in the ground for short amounts of time, just long enough to lay their eggs, gather a pollen sack for each egg when it hatches and flies away. These are very little threat to anyone at all.


What Bees Don't Sting?

close look at a bee with reflection

Before we get into which species sting and which do not, let us start by saying that male bees or drones of any bee species, the world over can not sting you. It is physically impossible for them to do so. The stinger of a bee is simply a modified or enhanced ovipositor. This is an organ that helps the female to lay eggs. So only females have them. Many species have these organs; however, some, such as the bee, have adapted it for defensive uses.

Since males bees do not and can not lay eggs, they also do not have this organ. Therefore, they can not sting you. Only a female can sting you. The males may act intimidating at times, some may even appear to be flying right at you in attack mode, but they pose no threat at all. They are merely trying to gauge the threat you may pose to them. Just remember they can not sting you.

There are many species of bees that do not sting at all, males and females alike. There are about 20,000 species of stingless bees. Most of these reside in tropical regions such as Africa, Australia, Asia and South America. These are typically very small bees. Female of stingless bees are equipped with a stinger. However, they are so small, and the stinger is so weak that it is not even capable of piercing through human skin.

Honeybees and Bumblebees are the most common types of bees that will sting you, and we mentioned before, they only do so if they are provoked and feel threatened. Bumblebees, in particular, have a bit of a warning system that they use. If they feel threatened, they will let you know. They do this by lifting one of their middle legs into the air, vertically. If you back away, you will find that they will soon relax and put the leg back down.

However, if you continue to be a threat to them, they may raise yet another leg. If they feel that threat is still being continued they may two legs into the air. They may also turn over to show you their stinger with their legs still in the air. This activity is called "posturing." It is a sign that they mean business. However, it does not always mean that they will sting you. They may decide to fly off, or they may sting you. Our advice, do not provoke them and leave them with such a choice.

In all species of bees, there are small differences in the physical appearance of males and females. For example, some species of male bumblebees have pale yellow facial hair and little yellow mustaches. The legs are also different in shape, size, and hairiness. If you learn some of these traits, you will be able to gauge what bees don't sting.

swarm of bees

What Bees Don't Sting - Conclusion

Now we know what bees don't sting. Bees are such a crucial addition to our world and, while they may frighten us a bit, we have to learn to coexist with them peacefully. Therefore, it is important to remember that not all bees sting. In fact, most bees hold very little threat or danger to us. That is unless they are threatened or provoked themselves. A good rule of thumb is if you see bees watch them from a safe difference.

Determine if you can tell the difference between male and female and if this bee lives in a hive with many others like or if is a solitary one. This will tell you whether they, in fact, pose any threat to you. In any case, it is always wise to not threaten or provoke them. Let them go about their busin
ess. Give them space, and they will leave you be as well.

Why Bees Swarm – Bees & Beekeeping Information

why bees swarm

The word "swarm" is most commonly associated with honey bees, yet this natural and complex process is not commonly understood.  Why is this a common behavior among bees and what purpose does it have for the honey bee population? Let's find out more about why bees swarm.

What Are Bee Swarms?

Before we get into why bees swarm, what exactly is a bee swarm? A swarm is defined as a dense group of insects. Consequently, swarming is a natural process in the life of a honey bee family group, which is known as a colony. A successful colony of honey bees includes three common types: workers, drone and a queen. Each type of bee plays an important role to maintain a successful colony and to allow for the reproduction of the bee species.

swarm of bees

Types Of Bees

Worker Bee

Drones

Queen

Bee Swarms

​​​​Many people wonder why bees swarm. Swarming occurs when a large group of honey bees flies away from an established colony to establish a new colony. During a prime swarm, the majority of the worker bees will exit the original hive with the old queen. A swarm can be populated by thousands to tens of thousands of bees and commonly occurs in the late spring and early summer.

Preparation

The process does not spontaneously occur. Rather, it is a carefully orchestrated event that follows a set chain of events. Workers create cups for the queen to lay her eggs in throughout the year, although, the queen will only lay eggs in them when a swarm is imminently approaching. Laying an egg in a queen cup signifies that the queen is planning to leave the hive while also preparing her successor.

While the new queens are being raised, the workers reduce the feedings of the departing queen to lighten her and to stop her from laying eggs. This prepares her for her upcoming flight when leaving the hive. During this time, there is a gap in the egg-producing of the colony, and the swarm can begin when the queen cells are capped and before the new queens leave their cells. Meanwhile, scout bees will find a location for the swarm to descend upon.

The Swarm Event

After the preparation is complete, the swarm will begin. Upon the first emergence from the original hive, the swarm occurs nearby, usually at a branch or tree meters from the hive. This nearby location is not the permanent stop for the new nest, but rather an interim location for the cluster while scout bees scour for the new location. This process usually takes a few hours and the rest of the swarm clusters about the queen to protect her during her temporary stay. However, in rare instances, this process can take up to three days.

When the ideal location is selected, the swarm will fly to the new location and begin populating the new home. This group of bees is known as the "prime swarm." Meanwhile, at the original hive, the new queen will soon emerge and will kill her unborn sisters with the assistance of her worker bees.

colony of bees in a hive

Why Bees Swarm

There is a fairly simple reason to why bees swarm.  Swarming is a natural and critical occurrence in the life of bees and occurs for two main reasons: space and a method of reproduction.

A Solution For Space

Just as humans find solutions to prevent overcrowding such as moving or decluttering, honey bees also take action. When a colony outgrows the capacity of its home, they swarm in order to find adequate space.

Reproduction

Swarming also serves as a colonies' method of reproduction. During the swarming process, one colony splits to form two or more colonies thus propagating the species.

How to Avoid Bee Swarms

For beekeepers who do not wish to increase their number of active hives, there are many methods to prevent the swarming process.

boy chased by a swarm of bees
  • Clipping the wing of the queen: By rendering a queen unable to fly, the swarm will move right outside the original hive making it easy for the swarm to be contained.
  • The Demaree Method: In the Demaree Method, a frame of capped brood is removed with the old queen and put into a hive box with frames and foundations in the old hive. Next, a honey super is added to the top of this hive topped by an inner cover. The remaining hive box without the queen is inspected for queen cells, and queen cells are destroyed. This hive box, where most of the bees are, is moved to the top of the crown board.  Bees in search of food will return to the lower box and will deplete the population of the upper box. After a week or more, both parts of the hive are reinspected and any remaining queen cells destroyed. After this process, the need for swarming is eliminated, and the hives can be re-combined.
  • By keeping the brood nest open: During the swarm preparation process, worker bees populate the brood nest with honey. The queen stops laying eggs to be slim enough to fly, and the nurse bees follow her. By employing this method, the brood nest is opened, and the nurse bees encourage the queen to lay eggs again. This is achieved by a number of slight modifications including the presence of empty frames in the brood nest, bare foundation or drawn combs in the brood nest, or by relocating brood combs to the box above to encourage further expansion of the brood nest.
  • Checkerboarding: During the late winter, worker bees re-arrange frames above the growing brood nest. These frames consist of alternating full honey frames and empty drawn out frames or foundationless frames. If a colony does not have enough reserves, it will not swarm. Checkerboarding these frames above the brood nest achieves this by removing the sense of having reserves.

Beekeepers may also be called to capture swarms that are established by wild honey bees or from the hives of beekeepers.  The process is commonly performed with a bee vacuum that will capture the bees in a container so they can be moved to a new hive. If performed correctly, few bees are lost. The collection and relocation of bee swarms is almost always possible, meaning that extermination is rarely necessary and frowned upon given the vulnerability of the bee population.

Conclusion

Now that we understand why bees swarm, it's important to understand what to do when you see a swarm.  While the sight of a swarm of 10,000 honeybees can be unsettling, both scientists and beekeepers urge the public not to kill the bees or disrupt their hive. Those who happen upon a swarm can take comfort in the fact that bees are at their most docile during the swarming process as they have no nest or honey to protect. Unless they are provoked and feel that they are being intruded upon, they will not attack.

Also, it is important to understand that the swarming process is temporary, so bees will vacate if they are left unbothered.  Be sure to stay back and make sure others do the same, but having an understanding of why bees swarm will allow you to appreciate it while admiring it from a safe distance.