It’s Bee Swarming Season

Bee swarms are a frightening sight and can be very dangerous to anyone who becomes the target of a swarm. Understanding what types of bees swarm, why they swarm, and what to do if it happens will help you in the event that you find yourself in or around a swarm. Image of a bee swarm

Not All Bees Swarm

There are many different types of bees that are out in the wild. A majority of these bees are considered “non-social” bees. Bees that fall under this category will sting you, but usually they only sting if provoked. Non-social bees are often by themselves when the stinging occurs.

Social bees make up about 10 percent of the bee population. These bees are honey bees and are the types of bees that swarm. When a honey bee stings, it releases a pheromone that signals other bees in the area that you are a danger. At that moment, the bees will stop whatever they are doing and start attacking the object that is considered a danger to their nest. Honey bees can be aggressive, but most will generally onlyattack if they feel you are about to disturb their nest. The Africanized Honey Bee, or Killer Bee, is the most aggressive of these bees.

What To Do If You Are Being Swarmed

  • If you find yourself the target of a bee swarm, the first thing you should do is run in a straight line. Honey bees actually fly slowly in comparison to other bees, and most people can easily outrun them and make it to shelter. If no shelter is available run as far as you can before stopping. Most bees cannot fly more than 200 yards without becoming exhausted.
  • Never jump into the water to protect yourself from killer bees. When you dive into the water, you can only hold your breath for a limited time. When your face surfaces to get air, it will be the target of the bees. Bees will hover over water waiting for you to surface because they can still smell the pheromone.
  • Avoid other people when you are running from the bees. The bees will be in a frenzy after the have stung you and will start stinging anyone near you at that point.

What To Do If You Have Been Stung

a person with a bee on their finger

  • If you have been stung by a bee, it is very important that you remove the stinger in the correct manner. Never remove the stinger by pinching it with your fingers or grabbing it with tweezers. The stinger is a hollow tube that is filled with venom. When you squeeze the stinger, you are releasing more of the venom into your body.
  • To correctly remove a bee stinger, scrape something over the stinger so that it falls out. Using something stiff like a credit card works very well at removing them without releasing any additional venom.
  • You should seek immediate emergency medical care if you have received over 30 stings during an attack. Even though this is not enough stings to cause death in an average person, being exposed to this much bee venom may have adverse effects on the body.
  • If, at any point after you have been stung, you begin to feel dizzy, sick to your stomach or faint, seek immediate medical care. You may be having an allergic reaction to the bee venom and could possibly go into shock.

What To Do If A Bee Colony Moves In To Your Home

Wild honey bees are not very particular about where they live, just as long as it is a hidden spot. Wood piles, cracks in walls, holes in trees, and even piles of scrap metal can be a perfect place for a queen bee to start a colony. If you see a lot of bees flying around a particular area around your home, there is a very good chance you have a colony.

Never try to remove the colony yourself. It takes special equipment and highly skilled technicians to safely remove a bee colony. These bees are very aggressive, and any threat to their home will cause them to swarm. Bees should only be removed by a professional for safety reasons.