Camping & Survival

How to Avoid a Bee Attack

Time to call a professional!

When I told my dad I was writing about how to avoid a bee attack, he said, “always carry a straw!” —In case you had to jump in the water you could still breathe. However, this is a misconception. A swarm of pissed off bees will wait for you to come out of the water.

Coming straight for you!
Coming straight for you!

Michael Moore wants you to believe that the “swarms of killer bees” reports from the early 2000s were the media fear mongering. However, these “killer bees” (Africanized honeybees) really do exist. The Africanized honeybees are aggressive and have attacked and killed livestock, pets, and people. Typical honeybees are not likely to attack people, but the feral Africanized honeybee, or “killer bee,” will swarm and attack when they feel threatened.

The Africanized honeybee, a hybrid of the European and African honeybees, arrived in the United States through Texas in 1990 and are most active in warm, dry weather. A swarm is when a group of bees leave one nest to start a new one. Scout bees will go find a new place, while the rest take up temporary homes for a few days before a new colony is established. In the warmer spring and summer months a swarm of Africanized bees may move every six weeks or so. They take nest in all types of places; hollow trees, rock crevices, sheds, old cars, garages, old tires, junk piles and the eaves of a building or house. They are also attracted to water. The Africanized honeybee will become highly aggressive to protect their home. In fact, they will protect up to 100 feet of area surrounding their nest. The Africanized honeybee will chase a person or animal for half of a mile and may remain super mad for up to 24 hours. Anger management, anyone?

Time to call a professional!
Time to call a professional!

The best way to avoid a bee attack is to seal up any holes around your house that is 1/8-inch or bigger. This includes vents, rainspouts, and swing set openings. Clear your property of old junk, or anything else that looks homey to the bee. Fix leaky waterspouts and sprinklers.

If you encounter a swarm of Africanized honey bees, run. And then keep running. While you are making your escape, cover your head and neck with a jacket or a shirt, or any other material you can. Seek shelter inside somewhere; a vehicle, shed, a house, or any other enclosure. If you cannot find any shelter, get down on the ground and cover yourself with anything you possibly can that may prevent getting stung, such as a blanket or a sleeping bag. Do not swat or flail your arms about, a squished bee emits a smell that attracts more bees.

Once you are safe from the bees, call 911, especially if someone has gotten stung. Remove any stingers by scraping it out with a credit card or a fingernail. Do not squeeze the stinger out.

When you are outside enjoying the wonderful summer months, wear light clothing, as bees are reported to be attracted to darker clothing. They have shown that they even sting animals on their darkest parts, such as the nose and mouth. Do not wear smelly things like perfume, perfumed lotion, cologne, or aftershave. Coming across a nest of bees could cause panic, but do not disturb the hive, do not attempt to kill them yourself. It is best to leave the area and call an exterminator. Do you have friends or family members allergic to bees? Make sure they have their EpIpen with them at all times.

This picture makes my skin crawl
This picture makes my skin crawl

Before you start yard work, check for signs of bees. The noise and vibrations from weed whackers and lawn mowers have proven to aggravate Africanized honeybees in the past.

Though these Africanized honeybees do not attack unless provoked, it is best to be aware of where they nest and how they behave so that you can avoid a bee attack.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. I’m a beekeeper..
    honey bees are federally protected and are VERY important to the environment…
    All honeybees swarm in the spring.. ( 50% of the colony splits off to establish a new hive. )and most swarms are not aggressive since they have no home to defend…
    they cluster up and send out scouts to find a new home …
    Just give them space and call a local beekeeper asap.. 99% of them will be more then happy to relocate the swarm for free.
    OR give the bees a day or so and they will move on once they find a suitable place to establish a new home…
    just hope its a tree hollow and not inside the walls of your home 😛
    Also if you find a swarm in your yard, the hive they came from is not far away… look around it may be in a tree or in your home or a neighbors home… and if so you may want the beekeeper to remove the hive.

  2. Swarming be are not always the dreaded African bee. Yes they have made it to Texas, Arizona and southern California. Swarming bee’s are normally very gentle because they have no honey to protect and they are running away from the old hive with the queen in search of a new home.dark colored clothes and fast movements seem to aggervate bee’s. Swatting them and hitting them sends out signals for all other bee’s to defend them selves.

  3. I hope it goes without saying that people should leave beehives undisturbed in nature, and if possible have hives on residential property relocated (instead of killed.)

    Bees are responsible for pollinating the vast majority of fruits and vegetables we humans eat, and their numbers have been falling precariously.

    Bees should be left alone, and if that isn’t possible, contact a local bee keeper to see if they can refer you to someone who will remove the hive safely without just poisoning it.

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