Whenever you see a bee, the first thing you think is, “will it sting me?” It’s unavoidable. No matter how comfortable you are around bees, that anxiety’s in there somewhere. Likewise, if you’re going somewhere where you may see bees, you’ll think about how they might sting you. If you’re going to think about it, you might as well know how to avoid it.

Obviously, the best way to avoid bee stings is to avoid making bees want to sting you. Sounds easy enough, right? Don’t worry–for the most part, it really is. If you can avoid doing the things we list below, you’ll be able to avoid bee stings! …Probably. Well, at least you’ll be much less likely to incur a bee’s wrath. Which is… almost the same thing!

To avoid bee stings when you’re outside, DO NOT:

Approach a bee’s nest

This one’s obvious, right? If you see a bee or wasp’s nest, stay away from that thing! Bees and wasps usually sting to defend themselves and their homes. If you approach a bee’s nest, they could easily interpret you as a threat. If that happens, you don’t have to worry about one or two bees. You’ll have to worry about all the bees. Or you could just give that bee’s nest a wide berth! The right choice seems pretty clear.

Make sudden movements

Bees usually sting people for one of two reasons, and both of those reasons have to do with feeling threatened. They sting people who either wander too close to their nests… or startle them with sudden movements. If you see bees around you, try not to move too quickly. Don’t jerk toward or away from the bee, freak out, jump up and down, whatever. Instead, move away from the bee sloooooowly. If the bee knows you’re there and you’re not threatening it, it’ll probably leave you alone.

honeycomb

Throw things

This one sort of follows from the first two. Obviously, throwing something constitutes a “sudden movement.” You’ll startle bees with your sudden flying projectile and they’ll sting in retaliation. OR your sudden, flying projectile will collide with a nest. And you’ll have to answer for your crimes. To all the bees. If you see bees or especially a bee’s nest nearby, maybe just refrain from tossing that stone or stick. We get it–throwing things is fun–but “not being stung by a bee” is MORE fun, when you think about it.

Swat at the bees

It’s a surprisingly hard impulse to control, especially if the bee lands on you. When you see the bee buzzing nearby, something makes you want to slap it away. You should do whatever you can to avoid that impulse. If you lash out at a bee, you can’t exactly blame it for thinking of you as a threat. If the bee feels like you’re not leaving it a choice, it’ll retaliate against your swatting by stinging you. If you see a bee near or even on you, we recommend simply moving away from it slowly.

Disturb nearby flowers

Pretty much everyone knows bees eat nectar and pollinate flowers. It’s just what they do. Therefore, you’re naturally much more likely to see bees around flowers. Anytime you’re near flowers, expect to see bees. In fact, we recommend keeping bees in mind around flowers, even if you can’t see them. Try not to trample or otherwise push around flowers. Not only is it not very nice to the flowers, but it might also startle a bee you can’t see. Bees tend to feel vulnerable when they’re eating, which may make them more likely to sting.

bees are attracted to sugar

Eat or drink sugary foods

If you’ve ever eaten a picnic outside, you probably know that bees are very interested in food and drinks. Bees and wasps are both attracted to simple sugars as a source of easy energy. Soft drinks, candy, alcohol, pastries, fruits, and other sugary foods will attract bees to you. If you startle them during their approach, they’ll sting you in self-defense. If you eating or drinking something sugary outside, do so quickly. Keep your food or drink in a sealable container, and dispose of it as soon as you’re finished. Most importantly, stay aware of your surroundings. The bee you can’t see is more likely to sting you than the one you can see.

Run away

Now, we get that you won’t always be able to help this. If a swarm of bees comes at you, you’ll probably try to get the heck out of there by instinct. The problem is, running away might actually make you more likely to be stung for a couple of reasons. After all, it’s a sudden movement. If there are any bees near you, you may startle them with your sudden retreat. Bees might also interpret your speed as a threat to their nest, especially if you’re nearby. If you can help it, we always recommend moving away from bees slowly.

 

Next time you head out to a place where you may see bees, keep these simple guidelines in mind. As long as you don’t disturb them and give them some space, bees will pretty much leave you alone. They’re even less interested in stinging you than you are in being stung, after all.

These guidelines are great for going to places, but you shouldn’t have to follow them around your own home. If a bee colony built their home uncomfortably close to you, then you should call Griffin any time. Our experts can safely and humanely remove bee’s nests and make sure they don’t come back.

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