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Thread: How to avoid angry bees

  1. #1
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    Default How to avoid angry bees

    I am a beekeeper and I work with many breeds that are very aggressive (but none are as aggressive as the media hype would lead you to believe) so I thought I would post a quick note to explain the technique for evading a group of pissed off bees.

    How do bees get pissed? Here are some favorites I have heard/experienced:
    • stepping in a nest of ground dwelling bees
    • throwing a log full of dormant bees on your campfire and they wake up mad (a favorite of boy scouts)
    • stealing honey
    • carrying a hive and drop it
    • lean on a hive and knock it over
    • working bees and they flip out
    • operate a weed wacker next to a hive that is touchy
    • stick a firecracker in a hive (a favorite of kids)
    • just be in the wrong place at the wrong time


    A few facts about the stinger/venom itself:
    • The stinger's designed to stay in you. A bee is dissemboweled and dies when it stings.
    • The bee releases an attack pheremone when it stings that attracts other bees to sting, especially at the sting site.
    • Unwashed clothes that have been stung can provoke bees days later.
    • Smoke and other scents can mask the pheremone as can covering the sting site.
    • The stinger will continue pumping venom in after the bee leaves for over 20 minutes.
    • A stinger works it's way deeper through muscular action of the stinger itself.
    • A bee can sting through thin clothes like a t-shirt.
    • A bee needs to grab on with it's feet to sting, it can be shaken off between the time it grabs and stinger penetration.
    • Older bees have more developed venom glands.
    • Bee venom is most rapidly neutralized by heat. A lit cigarrette or similar heat source held nearly close enough to burn can stop the venom instantly.
    • An average, non-allergic person is disabled by 100-300 stings and killed by 1,000 to 1,100.
    • The standard treatment for anaphylactic shock from bee stings is an epipen (epinephrine).
    • You need a prescription for an epipen but you do not need to be allergic to get the prescription.


    A few quick tidbits about bees that help you strategize:
    • Bees will follow you 100' to 1,000 yards depending on various factors/species, they rapidly lose interest and numbers as you get further away.
    • Bees easily fly at speeds above 20 MPH.
    • Bees are easily confused by physical barriers, bushes etc.
    • Bees are drawn to movement more easily seeing you if you wiggle and run. so if they haven't stung yet, move slowly.
    • Bees will remain agitated for quite a while once disturbed but will calm down eventually (1 hour to 1 day)
    • Aggravated scout bees will return to the hive and get reinforcements, these reinforcements will first go to your last known location. Don't be there.
    • Crushing a bee that has not stung will usually cause it to sting.


    So let's say you have pissed off some bees by whatever method:
    • If you have not been stung at all remain still, they may crawl on you but that doesn't mean they'll sting.
    • Once a bee has stung there is no reason not to crush it to prevent it's rallying the troops.
    • Running in a zig zag can throw bees off of your trail, but distance is better in open terrain.
    • Running in circles around trees and bushes works the best, especially if you are actually in vs next to the branches.
    • Circling the bush can bring you back to the bees, so running from bush to bush works better than circling one bush.
    • I have heard that hiding under water doesn't work, never tried it though, I would go for distance if instead.


    So, here is the skinny:
    • When in doubt, run like heck.
    • When stung, run like heck.
    • Throw them off your trail by running through or around brush/obstacles.
    • once you are safe scrape out the stingers. the longer it's in you the more venom you get, so get the stingers out as soon as you can.
    • neutralize the stings with heat ASAP. poultices/sting remedies are for later.
    • If you are around bees have an epipen, if not for you, for friends/family.


    Don't believe the media hype, but be a fool either.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the great information about about bees, it's good to know. I was wondering if the same is true for wasps, there seems to be a lot of them in my neck of the woods come summer, any information would be helpful. Thanks again.

  3. #3
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    I don't know, wasps scare me. Luckily they live in smaller numbers though I have read of a Vespula pensylvanica nest bigger than 3 feet around and containing 20,000 wasps the reports always seem to have creditability issues (old inactive cells from previous years being counted as current) Still, they can sting repeatedly... And seem to enjoy doing so

  4. #4
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    Good stuff! Anything you can suggest that could be used to generate heat quickly for us ex/non-smokers? Would a freshly activated heat pack work? Or would that not generate enough heat to denature the poison?

  5. #5
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    I have used a bic held very close to the skin

  6. #6
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    guess you can't buy them off by offering to buy the 1st round?
    secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

  7. #7
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    quote: "Older bees have more developed venom glands." end quote

    Uh yeah.... I'll make sure to be attacked by the underaged bees.

    I don't much like them and now that you mention it, I noticed my epipen has expired so I need a new one. An epipen isn't a be-all, end-all to a reaction because the effect only lasts about 20 minutes. Immediately start taking an antihistamine after the injection so that it starts kicking in about the time the epinephrine has stopped working. Even without an allergic reaction, start using antihistamine immediately to reduce swelling and itching and other effects from the stings.
    Ignorance is curable through education. Stupidity is refusing to be educated.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montana View Post
    Uh yeah.... I'll make sure to be attacked by the underaged bees.
    it's sometimes hard for me to remember that to many people they appear the same. Most beeks can tell the rough age of a bee by it's appearance and behaviour, allowing you to predict the location of their hive, their temperment, activities etc.

    Keep in mind that most epipen dates are for temperature controlled environment, an epipen in a glove box expires quickly. Also there have been a big run of counterfeit ones. I forgot to mention antihitstamines, I keep them in my bee equipment.

    I have never had to use an epipen, What's it like?

  9. #9
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    We do have swarms of bees fly around where I live (SE Tx). A few years ago I was out grooming my old mare, who was probably around 35 at the time. I saw the swarm coming - 20 mph as you say. She was just standing there. I had noticed for a long time that lots of things didn't phase her a bit. I guess she had seen it all. (Well, the hot air balloon that almost landed in the pasture one day got her really excited and curious.) Anyway, I figured she knew about the bees and I slowly got down and crouched underneath her. The bees flew overhead about 3'-4'' above her without incident, and she didn't move a hair from the time she saw them until they were maybe 200 ft. past us.

    What I don't really understand, though, is where the heck were they going? And why? It isn't like they were out looking for flowers flying like that.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ponies View Post
    We do have swarms of bees fly around where I live (SE Tx).
    Luckily when bees are on the move (swarming) they are super docile, basically thay have no home and so are not inclined to give their life to defend it. When one of these swarms lands for a rest you can usually just scoop them up and shake them into a box.

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