How to Avoid Bee and Wasp Stings

Updated on April 6, 2016
Honeybee
Honeybee | Source

The Usual Suspects

Bumblebees, honeybees, wasps, yellow jackets and hornets: when it comes to stinging insects, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To avoid getting stung, it helps to understand “the usual suspects” and what motivates them to attack.

Bees

With the exception of Africanized honeybees in some of the U.S. southern states, bees are generally mild-mannered. They live in geometric wax hives and in the wild are known to inhabit hollowed out tree trunks. Bees are generally yellow, brown or black, and their bodies are compact and chunky. They are usually very hairy. Pollen captured and transported on the bees’ hairs are what helps fertilize the blossoms that turn into fruits and vegetables. Bees gather and feed on nectar and pollen from flowers.

Bees sting when they feel they need to protect themselves or their hive. It’s strictly defensive. Away from the hive, foraging bees are usually too busy to bother about passersby. Unlike bumblebees, which have a smooth stinger and can sting repeatedly, honeybees can sting only once. Honeybees have a barbed stinger, which, when deployed, gets stuck in the victim’s skin. As the bee alights, the stinger is ripped from its’ thorax, leaving it imbedded in the skin while venom is pumped into the wound.

Wasps

All wasps develop as predators or parasites of other insects such as flies, caterpillars and spiders. They’re also scavengers. Wasps are carnivores and hunt their prey, although some also visit flowers for nectar. Where bees are chunky, wasps have more elongated bodies, longer legs, much less hair, and have a pinched or “wasp waist.” Male wasps, which are nearly hairless, have a minor role in pollination.

There are several types of wasps but social wasps , such as yellow jackets, account for the overwhelming majority of stinging incidents. The larger the colony, the more aggressive they become—usually in late summer or early fall when food is in short supply.

Yellow jackets produce papery nests made from rotted wood pulp and saliva, but these are usually hidden. Yellow-jackets nests can be found behind logs, walls, underground in abandoned rodent dens, under the eaves or over-hangs of roofs and porches, as well in hidden nooks under playground equipment.

Although wasps feed on other insects, they are highly attracted to fruit, sweetened drinks and protein-rich foods like meat and fish.

Wasp
Wasp | Source

Wasps sting to protect themselves or their hive. Unprovoked wasp stings are rare. Unfortunately, it’s easy to unwittingly provoke them. If you unknowingly smack or squash a wasp, pheromones are released. Such powerful scent-signals on one’s skin or clothing will alert other wasps to attack you!

Wasps are one of the commonest uninvited guests at summer picnics. Food and sweetened drinks are powerful draws. It’s not at all unusual for wasps to crawl into drinks containers and soda cans unseen—only to sting the victim’s mouth or lips in an attempt to escape from being swallowed.

Wasps defend their colonies very aggressively and are known to attack intruders who get within 7-8 yards of their nests.

Hornet's nest
Hornet's nest | Source

Hornets

Much larger than most wasps, and with a proportionately more powerful and painful sting, Hornets are a small subset of wasps that are not native to North America. European hornets are found all along the east coast of the U.S. Like other wasps, they are known to be extremely aggressive and can sting repeatedly.

How to Avoid Getting Stung

· Don’t smell like a flower

Think scent-neutral. Avoid smelling sweet or overly floral. Keep away from heavily perfumed soaps, laundry detergents and additives, as well as colognes, hair products, lotions, oils and flowery deodorants. These strongly scented products attract bees and wasps! Once they figure out that you are the source of these delightful aromas, they will want to get close and investigate.

· Don’t smell like a bear

Bees and wasps become agitated by the strong odor of sweat. If you’ve been running or biking and smell ‘as bad as a bear,’ which, by the way, is one of their natural predators, you may provoke them. To keep under their scent-radar, freshen up—preferably with unscented soap and water before any planned encounters with strenuous yard work or the great outdoors where you’ll be likely to meet.

· Dress the part

Tuck in your shirt. Dress in light colored, close fitting clothing, with long pants and sleeves. Bright floral patterns attract unwelcomed attention, as do dark colors. Bees tend to associate dark clothing with the color of bears and skunks, two of their natural enemies in the wild, and may respond defensively to your black jeans. Ditto for dark hair. Your best bet is to cover it with a hat.

· Don’t drink out of soda cans

Be careful when eating fruits and sugary food outside. Cover all food and drinks. Wrap and properly dispose of peach pits, melon rinds, apple and orange peels. Put them and any empty drinks cans in a covered refuse container. Also, when drinking outside, use a cup. Yellow jackets are notorious for crawling into drink cans unnoticed.

Fat Lip from Wasp Sting

· Don’t go barefoot

Wasps often make their nests in the ground. Bees are very likely to be sipping nectar from clover flowers in the grass. Foot protection, even just flip-flops, will reduce the risk of an unexpected sting.

· Keep your distance

Try to stay away from nests and hives—they will defend their territory. Also, keep your car windows rolled up. If you find you’re in the car with an unwanted stinging passenger, try to pull over safely. Open your windows and car doors to encourage it to leave.

· Bad Vibrations

Bees and wasps feel threatened by strong vibrations—like lawn mowers and string trimmers make. Avoid power mowing or trimming close to nests and hives.

· Stay calm and carry on

Pretend you’re British. Don’t flail your arms excitedly and become hysterical when confronting a bee or wasp. Stay calm. Rapid, sudden movements are perceived as threatening and only encourage stinging.

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Questions & Answers

  • If I huddle next to my big dog, will bees or wasps sting us or leave?

    That's hard to say. If the dog is agitated or has a strong doggy scent, they may be put off and feel threatened. Of course, if you smell like shampoo or deodorant or any floral scent, they may still be interested in you regardless of the dog. Think neutral scent whenever you have to be out near bees and light, and no bright colors. Bees are also wary of dark colors like dark brown and black as they remind them of their natural predators, bears. Use common sense and enjoy the outdoors!

  • Are there better times of day to hike to avoid wasps?

    I'm not aware of better times of the day to avoid wasps, though wasps do change their feeding habits towards the end of summer. See https://www.rentokil.ie/blog/wasps-dos-and-donts/ for the low down on wasp behavior that goes beyond the scope of this article.

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    • profile image

      Alireza 

      2 months ago

      Thanks so much for your nice site and good information.

      just I wanted to say that please change the photo of Bee above the page. it is NOT a bee but a Syrphid fly which imitate a real bee.

      Best

      Alireza

    • profile image

      Ann Reid 

      3 months ago

      Sorry to read of your being stung so ferociously. I think everyone has a story of being surprised by accidentally coming upon a wasp nest or nest of snakes or something unexpected and dangerous while working in the garden or being out in the wild. I can't think of anything you might have done differently which would have made the wasps happier about you inadvertently attacking them and destroying their home-- sorry. Glad you're not allergic!

    • profile image

      Stung 

      3 months ago

      A bunch of enraged wasps chased me today across the yard right into my kitchen, stinging me as furiously as they could. I had unwittingly dug up their home while hoeing a weeded area!

      The experience seems very similar to that reported by Judy64 a full year ago.

      This article is interesting but I still don't know how to know where not to use the hoe or rake. Any tips?

    • profile image

      Jody 

      4 months ago

      Very interesting. I am British and find wasps both fascinating and abit scary but being British I try not to flap around. I like to watch them drink out of the bird's water bowl. And get drunk on an apple. But didn't like it when they stung my little doggy. Piriton (anti histamine) and swab sting site(s) with vinegar the vet advised. Probably same advise for people!

    • profile image

      evans mom 

      4 months ago

      My family and I were riding ATVs in the woods when we were swarmed by yellow jackets some of us got stung multiple times while others were not bothered. The only thing us who stung had in common was we all wore black articles of clothing, I had on black socks and repeatedly stung around the ankles, my husband wore black shorts and was stung on the legs, my son a black shirt and stung on back and chest while my daughters wore bright and neutral color and did not get stung.

    • profile image

      luke skywalker 

      7 months ago

      Thank you! VERY INTERESTING!!!

    • profile image

      Madeline Grace 

      8 months ago

      Thanks!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      8 months ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Bees do not behave the same way as wasps. Wasps are very aggressive no matter what. Bees tend only to sting in self defense and the defense of their brood. I suggest getting help eliminating the wasps / wasp nesting area. This is a tricky and risky business so perhaps some professional help might be in order-- or at least someone willing to risk getting stung. I hate to suggest spraying them with pesticides but you may consider having someone spray their papery nest with oil-- like from a can of PAM. They will not be able to use that nest and will leave. In the old days people also used to set fire to wasp nests. That's not so PC these days as they ARE pollinators-- but we all have to choose who we can live with and who makes our lives too fought to go outside. If it were me-- I'd get rid of the wasps--pronto! Good luck!

    • profile image

      Madeline Grace 

      8 months ago

      I have a big golden retriever. I have to pet sit my neighbors’ dogs so I take her to play. A wasp lives in my front yard and always approaches me and hovers in front of my face. I always freak out and crouch down and huddle next to my dog. I try to use as much help as possible but it still happens. I have a HUGE fear of bees and have anxiety from them, and whenever I’m near a bee or wasp I always have a freak attack and run wild-screaming-because with my anxiety of bees I can’t help it. I have to leave because I’m pet sitting, so I HAVE to take care of the dogs, but I’m way too scared to leave the house and I’m worried about the dogs. Can you please give me some suggestions about how to handle the situation I’m in?

    • profile image

      Ann Reid, RN MA 

      15 months ago

      As a holistic nurse, writer and beekeeper I might suggest 2 holistic approaches. First, learn to meditate. Meditation has many benefits including helping people to remain calmer and more centered in anxiety provoking situations. There are many on-line or You Tube demonstrations of meditation-- take your pick. Secondly, I would suggest EFT Tapping. Check out this link: https://www.emofree.com/eft-tutorial/tapping-basic... Tapping is free to learn and free to do and is often very effective. Research shows how well Veterans with PTSD respond to just a few minutes of ETF instruction which enables them to reduce their anxiety and cope with flashbacks or emotional responses to situations 24/ 7 and for free. EFT is amazing... I'm sorry the bees are so ornery-- but they get like that when they are hungry or stressed-- and what with the increases in extreme weather incidents, they will probably continue to be hard to live with until their (our) environment is in better balance... Sorry about that... Good Luck with the Holistic Approach! Ann Reid, RN MA

    • profile image

      Eliza G. 

      15 months ago

      Hi! Sorry for the novel I'm writing. I suffer from apiphobia and spheksophobia. Last year I saw a specialist who tried immersion therapy but it didn't help at all! Might have actually made it worse. "It's just a bee. Get over it." I wish more ppl could see the difference between fear and o hobia. Haha.

      Anyway...It was a much tamer fear in my younger days. Before kindergarten I was more so just cautious. I kept my distance, knew not to hit them. I'd watch(from inside) as my friends would get massive bumble bees to land on them and then pet their hair.... I could never handle that. I couldn't even go outside for gym in elementary, middle, or high school (My doctor actually contacted the school every year to confirm my phobia.) As I got older.... it got worse. This year has been the HARDEST. EVER. And at this point... it has become debilitating.

      I have two small children and would love to spend more time, other than at night, outdoors with them but it's next to impossible. The months of August, September, and October are mainly spent indoors. If I do brave the outdoors during the day, aka bee time, I get almost zero enjoyment. I'm in a constant state of exhausting hyper awareness, I'm scouring everything, I become itchy out of anxiety, sometimes I even cry. Even just the sound of any winged insect sends me into panic mode.

      I have been forcing myself to watch a few different beekeeper's YouTube channels every night as a sort of "safe" immersion therapy. I'm trying so hard to be become impartial to the sounds, sights, and behaviors on the videos but even that is hard. I've resorted to having all my groceries mailed to my house and I even ask friends to take my car and fill it up for me bc gas stations and grocery store parking lots are like.... bee city and I will abandon my car if I see a bee. I did that just last week at Burger King actually. The Drive thru employee definitely thought I was being murdered....nope! Just a wasp that flew in while I was ordering... luckily a lovely man that was behind me saw(and laughed his butt off) me run out of my car and came to assist in the eviction of said wasp.

      School drop off for my children is the worst tho. I have to mentally prepare myself anytime I'm going outside and I usually(always) have full intentions of getting from the inside of my car to the inside of the school as fast as possible. My kids on the other hand, are little butts and prefer to go as slow as humanly possible and usually something crazy like an open backpack gets dropped upside down spilling everything everywhere and we get stuck picking everything up right by a bunch of cars whose grills are covered in dead bugs and we all know who loves eating those bugs!!! Other parents seeing that must think I'm insane.... screaming and crying hahaha

      Did I mention that I live in North Dakota... just the US's largest honey producer... meaning....

      BEES. ARE. EVERY. WHERE!!!!!!!!! I have no escape and we are in the worst drought in our state's history and it's causing them to be 10x as aggressive as usually due to food shortage.

      Do you have any other tips, specifically on how to remain calm when bees are near?

      I have started looking into hypnotherapy with a new doctor. I really hope I can conquer this. I enjoyed your post on overcoming bee fears and shared with family/friends. Lots of helpful tips!

      Thanks!

      Eliza

    • profile image

      Amie 

      15 months ago

      There's several tiny wasp nests just outside our business's backdoor, up in the top corner of the Windows. Some how they are finding their way inside (we stopped using that door two days ago) yet on average, kill + or - roughly a dozen wasps per day. The last two days, my co worker and I have had really awful headaches. Today we both mentioned having sore and scratchy throats. Is it possible their alarm pheromones are so strong in our backroom that it's making us sick upon ingestion?

    • profile image

      Ann M. Reid 

      15 months ago

      Judy- I can understand your discomfort after the yellow jackets had their way with you. One thing I discovered as a beekeeper is that the homeopathic remedy Apis Mellifica which is very inexpensive ( see Amazon or https://www.boironusa.com/blog/2014/archives/all-a... and amazingly effective really works after getting stung. I learned about it at a workshop on Homeopathic Remedies given at an American Holistic Nurses' Association Conference and it has been my go-to remedy ever since. This is not to say that if I were having massive swelling and my airway was closing up that I'd use Apis before reaching for my Epi-Pen, but for the swelling and discomfort that is not life-threatening I have had excellent results with Apis Mellifica with none of the side effects of epinephrine (racing heart, etc...) or the drowsiness of Benadryl. Homeopathic Remedies are very mild and are available without a prescription-- and so I mention it in case you are interested in looking into it further.

      All The Best,

      Ann Reid, RN MA

    • profile image

      Judy64 

      15 months ago

      Yesterday I did some yard work cutting down some weeds and using a pitchfork to toss them onto a compost pile. Everything was going well until some weeds got caught in the tines of fork. As I tried to get the fork to let go of the weeds, I was unaware I was shaking up a yellow jacket nest. Well I wound up with five stings and a painful afternoon. They chased me across the yard, into the house and out the other side before they left me alone. Almost 24 hrs later the pitchfork is still on the pile with the weeds still tangled on it. I am still having vascular spasms that feel like I am being stung again. The yellow jackets have gone back to business as usual. I hope they like my pitchfork, little bastards.

    • profile image

      Loveriot 

      16 months ago

      I'm at my wit's end trying to avoid getting stung by wasps. It's much too often. I'm not finding any outright nests to avoid. Your article is the most helpful I have found, it's the first time I've heard about mowers and trimmers provoking them. It explains my bite yesterday when I wasn't near anything but got divebombed and stung. But how can I cut my grass every week if vibrational sounds make them attack? I wear light-colored clothing, long sleeved, pants, socks, despite living in Florida and wanting to pass out from the heat. I spray myself with insect repellent before heading out to do the yardwork. I wear protective eyewear, gloves, but I'll be d**ned if I didn't get stung in the neck, one of the few inches of exposed skin. I only use lavender, mint, or unscented soaps. Can the buggers smell that I drank a cup of coffee with sugar in it before I even went outside? LOL.

    • profile image

      R Ebitz 

      16 months ago

      Prevention should be the first step before you cause drawing no-see-ums, bees, flies, etc. to share you and your drinks.

      Sure sprays and stuff work some what, however most bugs are attracted to open drink containers then to your body.

      Odor and smells seems to be the attraction for bothersome bugs, so by having any drink container completely covered helps by not advertising it. Ever run from a Bee or Wasp?

      A solid lid is a great way to reduce attracting things, no straws, no sippy lids. One that I found is made in the USA at Pittsburgh Pa works great, just Google drink container protector and you’ll find a bunch.

      I even use one at work to keep other peoples germs from my coffee mug.

    • profile image

      Matthew Schauki 

      21 months ago

      My whole life I've been terrified of bees and wasps. Can't seem to get over this, and I'm 30 years old now...

    • profile image

      Devon 

      2 years ago

      So many great pointers! I found your page while researching what to do about an underground hive I discovered on the side of my house near the base of a Japanese maple. I am a native Washingtonian, and live in the Pacific Northwest between Seattle and Tacoma. This is the first time I have seen bees like this in this area. They are not wasps or carpenter ants, and are much much smaller than HoneyBees, which are generally the only types I have ever seen in this area. They don't seem to bother or attack anything that gets close, and they look like miniature honeybees, move very quickly with direct routes, with many arriving and departing the single entry hole every few seconds ......any idea what type they may be?

    • profile image

      Kellyann Kenison 

      2 years ago

      Also Ann I have a question do bees like wood I have a wooden patio in my back yard and i have seen a lot of them this summer more so than when I lived in my apartment that had a cement and metal patio

    • profile image

      Kellyann Kenison 

      2 years ago

      Very useful info. I am terrified of bees. Really anything I see that looks remotely like one I usually run in the opposite direction. When I was younger me and my cousins were jumping on my grandma's trampoline and we did not realize there was a wasps nest in there. A bunch came out and chased us I got bit 13 times by the time I got to the pool. I jumped in the pool thinking that would get rid of them didn't really work they lingered for a min or two and left. Ever since that day I have been terrified of them and every time I see one I can't help it. Had to pull my car over one day cause a bee came into it and decided to get into my can of Pepsi and I pulled over and waited for it to leave while flipping out. I really gotta work on that. But now I know why they keep chasing me this summer I've been wearing bright clothes when I'm not working so I should probably stop wearing those and stick with my light shades. Thanks for the information.

    • profile image

      Adam 

      2 years ago

      Thank you for the article. I've been terrified of bees since I was a child, after one landed on my finger during a trip to a carnival with my family. I had cotton candy on my little fingers so this is why. Fortunately mom got it to fly off without incident but it has stuck with me over the years, particularly since I've never been stung and I'm 38 now. One thing I've noticed that helps is to save yard work for later in the day during the hot months. You'll have less heat to deal with for one, and they aren't out in as many numbers the later it gets. I also tend to wear gardening gloves for hand protection and even earplugs to help me not freak out if one buzzes by. With the increased daylight of late summer, I can technically start cutting my lawn at 7pm and still get an hour's work finished.

    • profile image

      Ann Reid 

      2 years ago

      Billy- Congratulations on your ability to stay calm, cool and collected under such a challenging experience. You clearly exhibited what Hemingway used to refer to as "Grace under pressure." Also, your offering the wasp your apple core when you were finished was an enlightened gesture that the Dali Lama -- in the spirit of recognizing the value of all sentient creatures-- might have done And YOU DIDN'T GET STUNG!!! . Very impressive!

    • profile image

      billy 

      2 years ago

      I ate an apple one morning while hunting. One of those pesky critters landed on my mouth attracted to the sugary sweetness. The only thing that saved me from a fat lip like the poor sap in the video is I didn't swat it. If you can resist that urge then you can do as I did: just keep blowing it away and offer it the apple core once you're done!

    • profile image

      Ann 

      2 years ago

      Yes! If she wears bright colors and smells delicious (peppermint or some other scent used in soaps, shampoos, essential oils, sunscreen, lotion, etc...) the bees will think she is a very yummy-- if somewhat large and mobile FLOWER! Bees love the scent of mint--as well as many other wonderful floral, herbal and botanical and fruity scents.

      Bees (not wasps, which are predatory) will not sting unless they are protecting their queen or the hive which contains their brood. I suspect your daughter may be attracting yellow jacket wasps, and not bees. Also, if one swats the air and acts agitated, wasps will sting. The best thing is to be scent-neutral, wear more neutral colors outside and be calm when a bee or wasp is checking her out. I can't guarantee she won't be stung by a wasp (they are nasty critters!) but the bees will most likely buzz off and leave her unharmed. Good luck!

    • profile image

      linda 

      2 years ago

      Ann,

      Bees seem to be attracted to my daughter. In a crowd of people it seems like she is the only one that gets stung. She is 7 this year. What could be the attraction to her in public places? Also is wearing bright colors a myth? I also heard that bees don't like strong scents like peppermint, Is this true?

    • profile image

      Ann Reid, RN MA 

      2 years ago

      Hi Rachel-

      Good to hear you are calmer and feel better informed! That will help a lot when you're doing your yard work and encountering bees in the wild. Good luck!

      Ann

    • profile image

      Rachel 

      2 years ago

      Thank you so much for the helpful information! Im a teenager and i have to do yard work today and i am completely terrified of bees! I've been stung multiple times in my life which has mad my fear grow. I also had to witness my best friend being chased by 2 swarms of wasps! Your article really helped me feel more informed about how to avoid them. I usually run away as far as I can. But now I know to be British and stay calm! And I've also made the mistake of wearing dark pants. I've always thought they were attracted to bright colors. Thank you for your amazing advice!

    • profile image

      Paul 

      3 years ago

      I woke up this morning to find a large wasp in the shower of my master bathroom. I doused it with air freshener, so that it couldn't fly... then I crushed it with a towel. I've had several wasps inside my house this summer (I live in Arizona), and I've found that air freshener is always effective.

    • profile image

      Sharon 

      3 years ago

      I found this site helpful. Thanks for explaining the reason not wearing black, or why sweat will cause them to attack. Any helpful tip is a bonus for me.

      I'm anaphylactic and have been stung twice before so I'm in a dangerous position near wasps or bees.

    • profile image

      Ann Reid 

      3 years ago

      Rucker- Bees tend to like chlorinated water-- which can be tough on people with pools. Bees are more gentle than wasps--and generally will just be there to have a drink and then be on their way. They are not as excitable as wasps-- which are easily agitated and will sting if they feel threatened. Unfortunately, wasps are the insect world's equivalent of the guy with a chip on his shoulder looking for any reason to take offense and start a fight. All you have to do is flail your arms around and this is often enough to provoke them-- so try to steer clear of wasps.

      I wouldn't worry about the bees as much. I'm a beekeeper and we keep three hives of bees on our front deck and often have "breakfast with the bees" who are about 8 feet away. They don't bother us--even when we're having toast with marmalade-- which you might think they'd be all over. Wasps are another story. At the first sign of a yellow-jacket (which is a kind of wasp) we migrate back inside to finish our breakfast in peace. There can be no peace with a yellow jacket or big wasp. It's just not in their nature. Hope that helps...

    • profile image

      Rucker 

      3 years ago

      What if you are in your swimming pool and they tend to hang around the pool? Are you likely to get stung?

    • profile image

      Fatima 

      4 years ago

      Hey(: i have my first school dance and there's SOOO much bees/wasp/hornets in there and this is my life saver. Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      Cleopatra 

      4 years ago

      Once I was really scared to get stung by a bee. I did get stung by a jellyfish, so if you guys wanna know how I never got stung, it's cos I stay calm like Brits do.

    • profile image

      Gavin 

      5 years ago

      Hi, nice article, but you actually have a picture of a fly that is a honeybee mimic on the front of your page! This is easy to pick from the picture, as it has very small antenna relative to a bee, and on examination, would also only have two wings, rather than four as hymenoptera do.

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Thanks for your kind words and support, Mavis!

    • profile image

      mavis waterworth - middlesbrough uk 

      6 years ago

      I have mentioned this site to many of my friends (and to a local wellknown beekeeper and teacher 'of keeping Bees'. They all think the site is so informative AND THEREFORE MORE THAN USEFUL.

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Wow! I never heard of using wasps or their eggs for fishing bait. I know I wouldn't want to be the one trying to put a live wasp on the end of a hook or tying it up to make a "fly."

      Here in the U.S. wasps can be pretty big. I don't recall seeing wasps when I was in Scotland but the midgies on the Isle of Skye nearly drove my husband out of his mind, poor thing! For some reason, they didn't bother me nearly as much...

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 

      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      An excellent and useful piece of writing. I have been stung three or four times in my life and have no desire to repeat the experience.

      A long time ago an angler, who used wasps and their eggs as bait, told me the males get thrown out of the nest in August, and are hungry therefore aggressive.

      If you see an enormous wasp when you move a pile of stuff in winter kill it. It is probably a queen and you DON't want here laying eggs in your garage or garden.

      IN some countries however wasps are naturally vary large.

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      DoIt- Yes, Yellow Jackets can be mighty tetchy--and they will go right for your face, too. Sorry to hear you had such a nasty run-in!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      L.L., I found that one out the hard way when I was a brand new beekeeper. I was helping my 80 year old mentor, Jim, with his 17 hives and I wore the usual white jacket and beekeepers hat/veil--but made the mistake of wearing black jeans! That's the day I got 11 stings in my thighs and one on my gloved hand-- quite a record! Afterwards, Jim apologized--he hadn't realized I didn't know this bit of beekeeping wisdom and never thought I'd have to pay so dearly for my mistake! Whoa! That certainly taught me!

    • profile image

      DoItForHer 

      6 years ago

      I had a nest go after my face. I looked like a goon afterwards. The rest of me was intact. (Yellow Jackets)

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I appreciate the information about stinging insects and their "attraction" to dark clothes; this is something I had not known. Should be easy enough to remember, though, as those pesky mosquitoes are also drawn to dark clothing.

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Wow! Well I can sure understand not being the same after being stung like that, Puerto-Vallarta! Unfortunately, it sounds like they went on the defense because by using the gate you disturbed them and they were protecting their home. Accidental stings of that magnitude are (fortunately) fairly rare--but if you're the one it happens to, it makes a huge impression, right? Glad you lived to tell the tale! Hang in there!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Jannie- I hope these tips help keep your safe from stings this summer!

    • puerto-vallarta profile image

      puerto-vallarta 

      6 years ago from Langey BC

      I was attacked while bringing a horse through a gate. Stung over and over hundreds of times. Turns out they were living in the gate and I disturbed them on the way in so they attacked me on the way out. Good thing the horse was smart and did not move so only I got stung. I have never been the same since its just pure panic for me!

    • janniesavon profile image

      janniesavon 

      6 years ago from NE USA

      Ann, wonderful article and information on bees and wasps! Enjoyed what you included: "stay calm and carry on." Good advice but can be difficult for some because of freaking out when seeing these critters.

      Also liked what you included about not smelling like a bear. Or wearing too flowery or sweet-smelling fragrances, even wearing flowery patterns on clothing for that matter. So much to remember when it comes to bees and wasps! You covered a wide spectrum of "do's" and "don't's." Thanks again for the great information Ann!!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Thanks, Redberry! Also, I hope these tips help you to steer clear of stings this summer!

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 

      6 years ago

      I'm a magnet for all things stingy in summer - brilliant tips that I'll be following as soon as I hear the first 'bzzzz' in my garden :). Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination too!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Thanks very much for your congratulations! Bees and wasps and everything else are always a little scarier when we don't understand them. My goal in this article was not only to provide readers with tips about how to avoid getting stung, but also to give a little background info about what motivates bees and wasps and "where they're coming from." This way, the tips make more sense and are easier to understand, implement and remember!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Gosh I am afraid of bee stings so this is a good read. Thanks for sharing. Also, let me congratulate you on your Hubnuggets nomination. This way to read and vote for the Hubnuggets https://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hub/Word-Sal... Best of luck!

    • sammimills profile image

      sammimills 

      6 years ago from California, USA

      Thank you for the tips! Honestly, I do not like bees and every time I see one, I get scared.

    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 

      6 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Great tips and very well written voted up and interesting!

    • profile image

      Sueswan 

      6 years ago

      A very interesting and useful hub.

      I have a fear of wasps. I don't become hysterical but I have to get out of the way.

      Voted up and interesting

    • profile image

      Nora A. 

      6 years ago

      Loved the "pretend you're British" tip! The kids at my summer camp are famous for screaming, running, splashing, etc. I'll be sure to let them know that staying clam is their best defense. Also, bees are always buzzing into my hair. I'll be sure to forgo the fancy fruity citrus shampoos for the summer! Thanks!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      How to placate "mozzies" or mosquitoes? Well, that's the subject of another article, isn't it? We'll just have to find out, won't we? :)

      As for Brits reacting to bees and wasps, well, you have a point. Still, if one can only call on those reserves of calm and grace under pressure-- qualities that Brits have historically espoused and esteemed, that would be a good thing. Keep calm and carry on! It's the Brits at their best and it will help one avoid getting stung, too.

    • profile image

      aj bell 

      6 years ago

      Your last comment made me laugh out loud - have you ever seen Brits reacting to the poor bee / wasp as it tries to go about its business - we take arm waving and screaming to new levels!

      A lot of interesting info. but what about my pet hate - mozzies - how can they be placated???

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      Maria Yerger 

      6 years ago

      Guess I never knew yellow jackets were really wasps! Informative and interesting article.

    • profile image

      mavis waterworth - England 

      6 years ago

      Excellent - easy to read. Bees - Wasps - Hornets etc - the ill informed will now be able to sort the sting - from the non-sting!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Yes, definitely go for the lighter colors! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Mike Mullahy 

      6 years ago

      Did not know that dark colors attract them. We'll be sure to wear our hats and keep our wardrope toward the lighter side. Good info, interesting reading.

    • profile image

      binnacledr 

      6 years ago

      For most of my life (62) I have not understood bees, this puts it all in perspective and now I can be more comfortable and respectful of their role in the garden. Brilliant!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      I can understand her being scared. Getting stung is no fun! Poor thing. Maybe this will help her steer clear of bees and wasps this summer. Hope so!

    • profile image

      Marianne 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for this timely and useful advice. My daughter was stung badly by an angry wasp a few years ago and is truly scared - I'll pass on your top tips!

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      How right you are! When I was just a newbee beekeeper I went around with my 80-year old mentor, Jim. We visited his 17 hives and on one particularly agitated hive I was stung 12 times-- once on my gloved hands and 11 times on my thighs-- as I was wearing black denim jeans. Never again! I learned not to look like a bear ever again!

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      Nice hub and some great information. We keep bees and really, they won't sting unless you threaten them, advertently or inadvertently. I might add, 'don't look like a bear' either. Nothing dark, brownish or blackish and hairy/furry.

    • Ann M Reid profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann M Reid 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, PA

      Glad to be of service! Thanks!

    • Virtual Treasures profile image

      Kacie Turner 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Voted up and useful! Very good article, and very thorough! My son is TERRIFIED of bees and sometimes it's funny to see an 18 year old running around trying to get away from them when he sees them, so I'm definitely going to share this with him! :-)

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