How to Avoid Getting a Bee Sting
By the time they are adults, most people will have been stung by a bee at some point in their lives. I, Matthew Davies, don’t think I will ever forget my first bee sting as a child. There was a hot burning sensation that continually grew more intense as the seconds passed. Once the stinger was removed, it did subside a little, but the pain remained for about an hour. The next day, the only evidence of my sting was a small red dot on my arm.
Bee stings are never fun. However, at some point in a beekeeper’s life, they will get tagged. If being stung by a bee is what is holding you back from raising bees, I am here to calm you down a bit. When everything is done right, you rarely, if ever, get stung by a bee. Throughout this blog, I am going to teach you why bees sting and some helpful tips on avoid being hurt in the first place.
Reasons for Stinging
A bee sting occurs when the bee inserts its barbed stinger into your skin. There is a small hole at the tip that sends apitoxin into your flesh. When the bee retreats, it leaves behind the stinger sack, which continues to pump the venom into our skin. The reason this happens is that during the retreat, the barbed stinger cannot pull out from our tough human skin. Sadly, when the stinger rips from the abdomen of the bee, it will kill the bee in the process. That is the basics of the process of a sting. Now we will move on to the reasons bees sting you in the first place.
There are some common misconceptions about why bees sting. Some people have reported that a bee stung them for no reason. They were sitting in a chair, the bee landed on them, and then it stung them. While this is certainly a possibility, it is the exception rather than the rule. There are usually only three reasons a bee will sting you.
- Number one, they will sting you if you have stepped on them. During warm summers, people commonly walk around in the grass with their shoes off. If you accidentally step on a bee while it is pollinating flowers, you may get stung.
- Number two, they will sting you if they feel they have been handled too roughly. This could be something as simple as you swatting at them when they get too close. The best thing to do when a bee is near you is to vacate the area. Swatting at them will only make them more likely to sting.
- The final reason they may attack you is you are too close to their hive, and they view you as a threat. The worker bees are not only there to make honey; they are there to protect the queen. If you get too close, they might get protective and sting you out of instinct.
Another misconception is that all bees will sting you. As a matter of fact, male bees do not have stingers at all. It is only the female worker bees that will sting you. While queen bees have stingers, they only use them to sting other queens. The queen bee’s stinger is smoother than workers, so she can repeatedly sting any other queen attempting to usurp her role.
Now that you understand why bees sting in the first place let’s get to the meat of this article and provide you with some tips to avoid getting stung.
First, don’t ever work with your bees in lousy weather. Bees are notorious for disliking wind, rain, and cold weather in general. Therefore, you should avoid any days that have any of these weather conditions. It isn’t hard to understand why it upsets them, if you consider how you would feel if someone opened all of your doors and windows on a cold spring or autumn day and forced you to come out of the house. You would be a little cranky too. Do your best to avoid working on your beehives on these days. The bees will thank you for leaving them alone.
The next way to avoid a sting is to work on your hives when the majority of the bees are gone. The time of day that most of your bees will be out and about is between 10 am and 2 pm. This is the time they are out foraging. This makes it a great time to work on your beehives. The fewer bees you have to contend with, the less likely you are to get stung.
Another way to avoid stings is by wearing white, or near white, colors. Bees are known for attacking dark colors. They mostly avoid white or very light colors. This is why every beekeeper suit you see is white. Bees don’t seem to like the color and avoid it at all costs. A bonus tip under this category: don’t wear pastel colors. I have heard many stories of beekeepers wearing these colors only to be chased through a field because the bees mistook them for a flower.
Last but not least, never swat at a bee. I mentioned swatting in the reasons why bees attack section of this article. I just wanted to make it perfectly clear that this is one of the easiest ways to get stung. You may think you are preventing a sting, but you are really doing nothing more than irritating the poor bee.
Ask anyone that has ever been stung by a bee and they will all tell you the same thing – it’s painful. I, Matthew Davies, hope that there was enough information in the above article that will prevent you from getting stung. Bees are fun to be around if you know how to treat them. Besides, being kind to your bees will ensure they will remain in your hives and produce honey for you in the years ahead.