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How to Avoid Bee Stings and Wasp Stings

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August 23, 2012
How to Avoid Bee Stings and Wasp Stings - 9

There’s nothing quite like stumbling across a bee hive, hornet colony, or wasp nest at the end of the season when their ranks have swollen to the maximum from a productive queen.

These venom-slinging sharp shooters kill 50 to 100 people worldwide each year, which is greater than the number of people killed by all the other venomous creatures combined.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the end of the season makes many wasps extra feisty. The queens are usually the only wasps and hornets that hibernate through the winter, which means that all the worker hornets and wasps get kicked out as the hive disbands at the end of the summer. These pissed-off, displaced insects know their time is short and always seem most aggressive just before the first frost.

But these fliers aren’t our only concern. Africanized honeybees are defensive in nature and aggressive when it comes to protecting their hive and colony. A bee's defense mechanism is its stinger, and when it is used a pheromone is released that alarms other bees in the colony to attack. Honeybees can attack in swarms of thousands when provoked, and cause anaphylactic shock in allergic humans, often resulting in death.

How do we keep off their radar? Alertness and awareness are the keys to avoiding bees and wasps.

You need to be aware of the appearance of:

 

  • Gray paper hornets’ nests, which will be about the size of a football or basketball, and will be attached to a bush, branch, eave, or other structure anywhere between 2 and 20 feet off the ground.
  • Sentinel wasps flying around the burrow opening of a yellow jacket hive. A seemingly innocuous hole in the ground with a few wasps flying around it can be the gateway to an underground hive occupied by thousands of yellow jackets.
  • Old hollow trees that are favorite hive locations for honey bees.

And if you do run afoul of a hive or colony, run like hell and try to find shelter. Most bees and wasps will only follow you for 50 to 100 yards. Slather up your stings and bites with a meat tenderizer paste and count yourself lucky.

Tell us your best (or worst) bee or wasp story in the comments.

Comments (9)

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from RedDirtSurfer 1/23/2013 at 03:00am

My son is allergic to bees & wasps, although fortunately his reactions so far amount to severe swelling,redness & itching that lasts for several days. He got stung on the elbow & his arm swelled from his shoulder down, a sting on his chest resulted in redness & swelling over his entire upper left chest area. He used to have to be given oral steroids for the swelling & redness. After research on the internet, I found a better solution than the recommended ice & benadryl. I still give him benadryl, but I also give him ibuprofen for inflammation & I put HOT,moist compresses on the sting site for 10-15 minutes every hour. I don't remember the exact reason for the heat & it goes against everything I was ever taught, but it absolutely works! We've used this twice & he has not had to have the steroids & only had a small reaction that you almost couldn't see the next day. When I told the allergist, he got mad & said I needed to stop reading things on the internet, but this method works far better than conventional treatment!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RedDirtSurfer 1/23/2013 at 02:51am

When I was about 10 I stepped in a bee nest in the ground & was swarmed.I only got 2 stings on my neck by a couple of bees that got stuck in my pony tail.My dad was worried because I would scream & swat at bees(like most people), being allergic to red ants, he was afraid I was allergic to bees also. He tried to tell me that if I didn't bother them, they wouldn't bother me. To prove his point,he took me back to the underground nest & made me stand at the entrance with him. It was the most terrifying thing I'd ever done, but it totally erased my fear of bees & I've only been stung once in the 40 years since & that's because put my arm down & trapped one in my armpit. I've rescued them from drowning in my drinks & to keep them from bothering us at picnics, I'll feed them a bit of food or sugary drink away from where we are eating. I've taught my kids not to be afraid of them either.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap 8/27/2012 at 01:25pm

Kody: You can also put meat tenderizer (available at all grocery stores) on bee stings to reduce the pain and swelling. Works like a charm.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from horsethief 8/27/2012 at 10:14am

Another old wives tale: several times my grandma put blue dye on wasp stings and the pain would go away. I'm guessing the dye was made in the early 1960s, so whatever "did the trick" is probably not made anymore.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kody 8/25/2012 at 10:10am

Here is a valuable piece of info to remember. Rub a raw union slice on a wasp or bee sting and the pain will disappear like magic. Yes, this sounds like a old wife's tale but it works! Your crying child will thank you and be amazed. My wife had a neighbour treat her sting in this manner when she was a child and she has proven its effectiveness on many people over the last 50 years. I don't know the science of this treatment, it just works like 'magic' and that is what matters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tuesday Stine 8/24/2012 at 07:13pm

I was asked by a friend to help remove a honeybee hive from the outside wall of a house. He brought the saw and I brought the bee supplies. When he removed the siding, the nest was huge! It measured about 8ft. top to bottom and completely filled the space between two studs. Absolutely beautiful! I found the queen and placed her in an empty hive box, we returned that night and took them home. My husband who was on the sideline was stung above the eye and my friend with the saw was stung through his gloves. They looked like they went a few rounds with a boxer, but I had a great time. Will never forget it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tuesday Stine 8/24/2012 at 07:03pm

I raise honeybees and can tell you that bees won't look for a fight unless you bother them. I have a nest of yellow jackets in the ground by my gate, they have never tried to sting anyone. Bees are like all other polinating insects. They are beneficial and help nature. Killing them because your are scared of being stung is cowardly. The only bees I would agree to destroy are killer bees, that is only because they are an invasive species, and deadly. My understanding is that killer bees can only survive in the warmer parts of the US. I believe some have crossed with our native bees, but that doesn't seem to be a problem. Killing things we don't like isn't a solution. A little common sense goes a long way.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap 8/24/2012 at 12:25pm

How do I avoid bee and wasp stings? I avoid bees and wasps, seems pretty simple to me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Outsider 8/24/2012 at 10:55am

I take pleasure in killing every wasp, yellow jacket, hornet, around our place...i hate them. I don't bother honey bees. I buy a CASE of raid wasp/hornet killer each spring, and it is not a good year unless i use every can. I have special treatment for ground dwelling yellow jackets....Find them, wait till dark, pour gas into hole...jam a stick in the hole...wait 5 minutes...unplug hole...light with long burning stick...and then you get to see where seldom used escape hole is...fire usually shoots out of it. I know the fumes have more than likely already killed them, but it makes me feel better knowing that all of the stragglers are good and dead.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

from Tuesday Stine 8/24/2012 at 07:03pm

I raise honeybees and can tell you that bees won't look for a fight unless you bother them. I have a nest of yellow jackets in the ground by my gate, they have never tried to sting anyone. Bees are like all other polinating insects. They are beneficial and help nature. Killing them because your are scared of being stung is cowardly. The only bees I would agree to destroy are killer bees, that is only because they are an invasive species, and deadly. My understanding is that killer bees can only survive in the warmer parts of the US. I believe some have crossed with our native bees, but that doesn't seem to be a problem. Killing things we don't like isn't a solution. A little common sense goes a long way.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tuesday Stine 8/24/2012 at 07:13pm

I was asked by a friend to help remove a honeybee hive from the outside wall of a house. He brought the saw and I brought the bee supplies. When he removed the siding, the nest was huge! It measured about 8ft. top to bottom and completely filled the space between two studs. Absolutely beautiful! I found the queen and placed her in an empty hive box, we returned that night and took them home. My husband who was on the sideline was stung above the eye and my friend with the saw was stung through his gloves. They looked like they went a few rounds with a boxer, but I had a great time. Will never forget it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kody 8/25/2012 at 10:10am

Here is a valuable piece of info to remember. Rub a raw union slice on a wasp or bee sting and the pain will disappear like magic. Yes, this sounds like a old wife's tale but it works! Your crying child will thank you and be amazed. My wife had a neighbour treat her sting in this manner when she was a child and she has proven its effectiveness on many people over the last 50 years. I don't know the science of this treatment, it just works like 'magic' and that is what matters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap 8/24/2012 at 12:25pm

How do I avoid bee and wasp stings? I avoid bees and wasps, seems pretty simple to me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from horsethief 8/27/2012 at 10:14am

Another old wives tale: several times my grandma put blue dye on wasp stings and the pain would go away. I'm guessing the dye was made in the early 1960s, so whatever "did the trick" is probably not made anymore.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap 8/27/2012 at 01:25pm

Kody: You can also put meat tenderizer (available at all grocery stores) on bee stings to reduce the pain and swelling. Works like a charm.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RedDirtSurfer 1/23/2013 at 02:51am

When I was about 10 I stepped in a bee nest in the ground & was swarmed.I only got 2 stings on my neck by a couple of bees that got stuck in my pony tail.My dad was worried because I would scream & swat at bees(like most people), being allergic to red ants, he was afraid I was allergic to bees also. He tried to tell me that if I didn't bother them, they wouldn't bother me. To prove his point,he took me back to the underground nest & made me stand at the entrance with him. It was the most terrifying thing I'd ever done, but it totally erased my fear of bees & I've only been stung once in the 40 years since & that's because put my arm down & trapped one in my armpit. I've rescued them from drowning in my drinks & to keep them from bothering us at picnics, I'll feed them a bit of food or sugary drink away from where we are eating. I've taught my kids not to be afraid of them either.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RedDirtSurfer 1/23/2013 at 03:00am

My son is allergic to bees & wasps, although fortunately his reactions so far amount to severe swelling,redness & itching that lasts for several days. He got stung on the elbow & his arm swelled from his shoulder down, a sting on his chest resulted in redness & swelling over his entire upper left chest area. He used to have to be given oral steroids for the swelling & redness. After research on the internet, I found a better solution than the recommended ice & benadryl. I still give him benadryl, but I also give him ibuprofen for inflammation & I put HOT,moist compresses on the sting site for 10-15 minutes every hour. I don't remember the exact reason for the heat & it goes against everything I was ever taught, but it absolutely works! We've used this twice & he has not had to have the steroids & only had a small reaction that you almost couldn't see the next day. When I told the allergist, he got mad & said I needed to stop reading things on the internet, but this method works far better than conventional treatment!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Outsider 8/24/2012 at 10:55am

I take pleasure in killing every wasp, yellow jacket, hornet, around our place...i hate them. I don't bother honey bees. I buy a CASE of raid wasp/hornet killer each spring, and it is not a good year unless i use every can. I have special treatment for ground dwelling yellow jackets....Find them, wait till dark, pour gas into hole...jam a stick in the hole...wait 5 minutes...unplug hole...light with long burning stick...and then you get to see where seldom used escape hole is...fire usually shoots out of it. I know the fumes have more than likely already killed them, but it makes me feel better knowing that all of the stragglers are good and dead.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

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