Fear Not The Bee

Fear not the bee, Hollywood has given the honeybee a bad rep by implication. Every time you see a swarm of something in the media, there is terror and destruction.

Swarming of the honeybee is a part of their natural reproduction. During the actual swarm itself, bees are in a non-agressive state. You almost have to try to get stung during a swarm.

The swarm occurs when the old queen senses the imminent hatching of a new queen in her hive. Her response is to leave and find a new home.

The process takes place over several days. The bees in a hive know all is well in the hive because they can”smell” the queen. The queen gives off a pheromone that is spread throughout the hive.

As a new queen matures but, before she emerges, a conflicting pheromone is released. This prompts scout bees to go out and search for a new home. The scout bees return and report to the hive which sends out more scouts to inspect the new location.

If the report comes in of an acceptable site, the queen will signal that she is leaving. The mature workers and queen nurse bees wil all gorge themselves on honey to take food to their new home. This mission makes them much less likely to sting than their ordinary reluctance to sting.

As the queen moves toward the entrance to the hive, many thousands of bees leave ahead of her and fly randomly awaiting their queen.

The “swarm” is just a large moving party who are just interested in keeping up with their queen.

We humans are alarmed by large groups of stinging insects, but the bees in a swarm have no interest in stinging anyone. Even more than usual, bees in a swarm are non-agressive. These already peaceful honeybees are even more peaceful even if they seem a little more eratic and confused.

Once they have settled in their new home a few days, guard bees begin to patrol around the new hive. They can be a little more grouchy if the new location is an exposed location.

Bees only sting as a defensive act. Since they die when they sting, it is a last line of defense. The prefered means to get you to leave the area of the hive is to “buzz”. This is a message to leave or else.

Should you be “buzzed” by a bee, move slowly away from the hive. Do Not Swat at a bee. A defensive bee sees swatting as an act of agression and will react appropriatly.

Bees “smell” carbon dioxide, so, a persistant bee  buzzing you can sometimes be fooled by holding your breath as you walk away.

Worker bees foraging among the flowers will not attack anyone. Stings from such bees come from them being mashed or stepped upon.

Some perfumes and colognes are attractive to bees. They may buzz about looking for the flower that is you. Do not be affraid and do not swat. Such bees will not sting unless they are swatted or mashed.

Do not fear the swarm. In real life it is the harmless movement of honeybees from one home to another. If you should be so lucky to have a swarm land near your home or office, call a beekeeper not the bugman. Beekeepers can catch the swarm and relocate it to a more appropriate place and you will have made the world a better place for our friend the honeybee.