Bees are a crucial part of our ecosystem, without them, our food production costs would skyrocket and our dinner plates would be considerably less diverse.
However, this is a topic for another time. In this article, you will learn what to do when bees attack during a hike. We will also take a look at their habitats, common myths, the causes of attacks, and how you can avoid them altogether.
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How To Survive a Bees Attack
These creatures may be tiny, but their stingers tend to pack a huge punch. And when they attack in groups the situation may become life-threatening. Especially if you’re allergic to bee venom.
Where Bees Live
Bees tend to survive best in domesticated environments. Specifically, they prefer to dwell in woodlands, gardens, meadows, and orchards. Many build their nests in the cavities of trees and beneath the edges of objects so that they can more easily hide from predators.
Though bees prefer warm, tropical climates they can survive during the winter. In fact, they thermoregulate by huddling together within their nest. They also shiver in order to increase the hive’s temperature.
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All bees sting
There are several myths about bees. One of the most common is that all bees sting. This is far from the truth.
Do bumble bees sting? Yes, they do. Do honey bees sting? Of course, however, there are several factors involved, one of them being that bees sting if they absolutely feel like they have to, they will never attack without reason.
You see, the purpose of a stinger is to help bees lay eggs. Only female bees have stingers. And this means that male bees can’t sting.
But even some female bees don’t sting. This is the case with queen bees as they only use their stingers to dispatch rival queens
Removing flowers in your vicinity decreases the chances of a bee attack
Another common myth is that if you get rid of your flowers and plants it will get rid of bees. The truth is bees will build their nests miles away from the plants and flowers that they’ve pollinated. So removing flowers from your garden will have little to no effect.
Bees have a long life span
Lastly, people tend to believe that bees live for a long time. The lifespan of a bee depends on its species. However, workers bees, those typically seen outside, have an average life span of two to seven months.
What Causes Bees to Attack
aka what to avoid doing
So why do bees attack humans? Well, typically their attacks aren’t random acts of aggression. In most cases, something has triggered their behavior.
Bees are much like people in that if they sense danger they’ll feel the need to protect themselves. If you happen to stumble upon their nest, there’s a good chance that you’ll be labeled as a predator and thus a group of angry bees will attack. Here are a few things that that can lead to an attack:
Bees can’t hear but their bodies are able to recognize the presence of sound. This means that if you’re speaking loudly during your hike or you have a dog that’s barking it could provoke their protective instinct and lead to a swarm of angry bees.
Bees can perceive vibration as a threat. This is why it’s a bad idea to throw rocks at the nest or poke at it with a stick. They could feel as if they’re being attacked and it could result in a counterstrike by a honey bee swarm.
How to Avoid Bees Attacks
the safest option
Although fatal attacks are extremely rare, it’s important that you know how to keep bees away and avoid encounters altogether. Check out the following tips:
Don’t Disturb the nest
You should never disturb or even approach a bees nest. If you notice a bee exiting the cavity of a tree or from a hole in the ground, you can assume that there’s a nest in that area–it’s best to leave this location immediately.
Notice Warning Signs
Take note of the bee’s behavior. If you notice a bee swarm forming above or around you then this may be their warning to you. So don’t attempt to swat at a swarm of bees, simply leave the area.
Don’t Use Colognes or Perfumes
Before you go on your hike, make sure that you only bathe with odor-free soaps. Bees tend to mistake the smell of colognes and perfumes with the scent of flowers. Once they detect the scent and find the source, they’re more likely to land on you.
Don’t Wear Bright Clothing
Another thing that you should keep in mind while getting ready for your hike is the color of your clothes. Don’t wear anything bright or floral. Bees can also mistake the bright colors you’re wearing with the bright colors of flowers–stick with neutral colors such as white and beige.
Wear Bee Repellant
While there are some scents that attract bees there are others that can act as bee deterrent. Spray yourself with over-the-counter bee repellant to ensure that they stay away. You may also make your own natural bee repellent with a combination of witch hazel, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil.
How to survive a bees attack
Even if you do all the right things, you may still find yourself in the middle of an attack. There are several tips that you need to keep in mind if you want to make it out safely.
If you’re ever attacked by bees your first instinct may be to swat them away. However, your main goal should be to run to a safe location.
You see, when a swarm of bees suspects that you’re a predator they’ll first warn you. The bees will typically “head but” you. This is your chance to escape before the rest of the hive surrounds you.
So don’t attempt to fight with them. This will only leave more time for hundreds, perhaps thousands, to surround you at once.
2. Remain on Dry Land
If your trail is near a body of water you may be tempted to jump in so that you can get away from the bees. However, you should avoid this urge.
Bees are very patient and they’ll wait for you to resurface. Each time you come up for air they’ll sting you again. So continue to run but remain on dry land.
3. Cover Exposed Skin
If you or your hiking partner can’t find shelter, then make sure that you cover as much exposed skin as possible as you run. This way, your injuries won’t be as severe once you do get help.
4. Remove the Stinger Quickly
You’ve probably been told that you should never remove the stinger with your fingers–that you should instead use a flat surface such as a tweezer or credit card so that you don’t press the stinger deeper into the skin. However, this is a myth.
It’s important that you remove the stinger as quickly as possible. Whether you’re removing it with a tweezer or your fingers, you need to ensure that the venom doesn’t have much time to enter your body. This is especially the case if you’re allergic to the venom.
If you want to survive an attack, then there are several things that you need to be aware of. First, you need to know about what their natural habitat is. You also need to understand which pieces of information are myths, the best ways to avoid these attacks, and what exactly triggers them.
The good news is that it’s possible to survive being attacked by bees. The key is to not wonder about how to make bees go away. Instead, you should focus on running away from the area and seeking shelter. You should also be equipped with a good bee repellent.
About the Author
"When I’m on a trail, it gets quiet, it gets peaceful, I feel like I can breathe again and enjoy nature’s untouched beauty."
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