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How to reduce the chance of getting stung by Honey Bees.

The Majority of Honey Bees Sting for Defense Not to Attack

Drone bees, the males, are larger and do not have stingers. The female bees (worker bees and queens) are the only ones that can sting, and their stinger is a modified ovipositor. The queen bee has a barbed but smoother stinger and can, if need be, sting skin-bearing creatures multiple times, but the queen does not leave the hive under normal conditions. Her sting is not for defense of the hive; she only uses it for dispatching rival queens, ideally before they can emerge from their cells. Queen breeders who handle multiple queens and have the queen odor on their hands are sometimes stung by a queen.

A few things to help reduce the probability of Honey Bee stings:

1) Choose a good day. A good day is warm, very sunny, high pressure or barometric on the rise, and not real windy.


2) Choose a good time. Between 10am and 2pm Working bees prior to 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m. invites stings simply because there are more bees at home. Between 10 and 2, the foragers are out, the hive is smaller and you can better manipulate your hive.


3) No perfume, hairspray or heavy soap smell. If you get all prettied-up to work your hive, it could turn ugly. But, bad body odor can also draw some stings. So, be clean, but don't over do it.


4) Never wear dark clothing! Bees sting dark areas. They resist white. Wear white, especially socks if you do not wear boots.


5) Do not swat at a bee that is buzzing around your head. Swatting will NOT make a bee go away. It has the opposite effect. She will become much more aggressive if you swat at her and she will pursue you if you run. Bees can fly up to 18 mph. Can you out run a bee? No. So, be still, and wait and see if she will go away. Usually a guard bee is the first to buzz your face, making a louder than normal buzzing sound to intimidate you. It works too! But, no matter how loud she buzzes, the stinger is the same size and doesn't hurt any more or any less so do not fall for the buzzing intimidation. Be still and see if she will get tired and retreat. I've worked several hours in a bee yard with the same bee buzzing my face. She never did anything more than "got in my face" but my veil held her at bay and I ignored her and finished my work. DON'T SWAT!!! I know it is a natural reaction, but DON'T DO IT! Got it? You cannot swat at honeybees!!


6) Avoid sweating or breathing heavily onto the bees. Don't hold your breath. Breath normally, just avoid breathing close up on a frame. On hot and humid days, lean over slightly to the side of a hive so that if you sweat, it will not fall onto the bees.


7) Bees are most calm during a nectar flow. However, I don't like to interrupt the hive operation during a strong nectar flow because this could reduce my honey production. But, they are the most calm when the flow is on. By flow, I am referring to a time when several floral sources are producing an abundance of nectar.


8) Always use a smoker! You MUST smoke your hive. Smoke the hive, but be gentle and don't over smoke them. A little smoke goes a long way to calm a hive. Do not work your bees without smoking them! Untreated burlap makes good smoker fuel. I use pine needles and mulch as my smoker fuel.


9) Calm and gentle movements. No sudden movements and by all means don't drop a frame or a hive tool on the bees. Bees can't hear, but they are very sensitive to vibrations. If you do drop something or tip a hive over, back away slowly, stand still if you are not being pursued heavily, smoke and try to get things back together once the bees have calmed down. It happens to the best of us.


10) Always wear a hat and veil. You may not care about being stung below your head, but you cannot risk being stung in the face or eye. Wear a hat and veil or you will regret it. And if you want to avoid being stung, wear protective gear and duct tape all clothing gaps.


Be sure to check out our information on Smokers and how to use them!  << Clickable Link

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Tennessee's Honey Bees