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  • Writer's pictureCJ Turner

The Gentle Nature of the Honey Bee

When people find out I work with bees, they often ask "HOW ARE YOU NOT AFRAID?!?!" And while there are definitely times where I have ran away from a hive when I heard/felt a bee buzzing in my hair, my experience with honey bees has been actually relaxing and peaceful.

Honey bees are special in that they can only sting once. When they choose to sting you, they are making the choice to die. Bees generally only sting when they feel they individually, or the hive, is in danger. In fact, I spend most of my weekend mornings sitting next to the hive, having coffee, talking to the bees (I know it sounds weird, but if you have bees you understand), and watching them do what they do best.

There are times when a hive is more aggressive, especially during the fall and winter months as they are desperately trying to protect their hive and honey, but more often than not they are so focused on collecting pollen and nectar that they do not care that a giant human is observing them.

*I think this goes without saying, but if you are allergic to bees, please do not do this*

While I am not as brave as some, and choose to wear complete protective gear (A bee suit, & leather gloves) there are individuals that will actually not use protective gear when dealing with honey bees.

In the above pictures case, @texasbeeworks is working with a swarm of bees, which are almost always very calm, as they are not trying to protect their honey. However, when you are opening up a hive of bees, or want to avoid bees, there are things you can do to prevent being stung.

Preventing Unwanted Bee Encounters

Wear bright colored clothes. Bees see dark colors as threatening, which is why beekeeping protective gear is often white, or in my case a pale pink.

Use a Smoker. "Smoking a beehive" which essentially means blowing smoke onto the openings of the hive before opening it, prevents the bees from releasing their alarm pheromone sot they are unlikely to become aggressive.

Avoid Sweet Smelling Perfumes. Bees will be attracted to anything that smells like a flower, and they will think you are a beautiful flower ready to be pollinated, which is probably not your goal.

If you are eating outside (especially sweet food) be prepared to see a bee or two. Again, bees are attracted to sweet smelling things, especially late in the summer when they are trying to find the last bits of honey and nectar before the flow stops.

So next time you see a honey bee. Do not try to swat them away. They will see it as a threat and potentially sting you. Instead maybe say a little thank you for all the hard work they put in to keep our world turning.

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