|Bee Stings / Safety|
What do I do?
If you are stung by a honey bee, one of the most important things to do is not to panic. Panic by the person stung or those around him/her can produce a systemic reaction in itself. Many people believethey are allergic to honey bees when in fact they are experiencing symptoms of a normal reaction. Only a very limited portion of the population (one or two out of 1000) is allergic or hypersensitive to bee or wasp stings. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight. This means that although 500 stings could kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1100 stings. Most deaths caused by multiple stings have occured in elderly individuals who may have had poor cardiopulmonary functioning.
If stung by a honey bee, the first thing you should do is remove the stinger. The end of a sting is barbed and will remain stuck in the skin even if the bee is removed. Muscles in the stinger allow it to continue pumping venom into the victim, even if it is no longer connected to the bee, for up to a minute or until the stinger is removed. The sooner the stinger is removed, the less venom will enter the wound. Honey bees are able to sting only once and eventually die after they have released their stinger.
Two kinds of reactions are usually associated with bee stings and those of other stinging insects as well: (1) local or (2) systemic, allergic, or life-threatening.
(1) Local Reactions:
(2) Systemic, Allergic, or Life-Threatening Reactions:
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical assistance immediately. Symptoms can begin immediately following the sting or up to 30 minutes later and might last for hours. Anaphylaxis, or the inability to breathe, may occur within seconds or minutes of a sting.
Anaphylaxis, if treated in time, usually can be reversed by epinephrine (adrenaline) injected into the body. Individuals who are aware that they are allergic to stings should carry epinephrine in either a normal syringe (sting kit) or an auto-injector (Epi-Pen) whenever they think they might encounter stinging insects. Epinephrine is obtainable only by prescription from a physician.
Things to remember:
Stay away from honey bee colonies. There are estimated to be about 250,000 wild honey bee colonies in Arizona. Because honey bees nest in such a wide variety of locations, be alert for groups of flying bees entering or leaving an entrance or opening. Listen for buzzing sounds. Be especially alert when climbing, because honey bees often nest under rocks or within crevices within rocks. Don't put your hands where you can't see them.
If you find a colony of bees, leave them alone and keep others away. Do not shoot, throw rocks at, try to burn or otherwise disturb the bees. If the colony is near a trail or near areas frequently used by humans, notify your local office of the Parks Department, Forest Service, Game and Fish Department, even if the bees appear to be docile. Honey bee colonies vary in behavior over time, especially with changes in age and season. Small colonies are less likely to be defensive than large colonies, so you may pass the same colony for weeks, and then one day provoke them unexpectedly.
Wear appropriate clothing. When hiking in the wilderness, wear light-colored clothing, including socks. Avoid wearing leather clothing. When they defend their nests, Honey bees target objects that resemble their natural predators (such as bears and skunks), so they tend to go after dark, leathery or furry objects. Keep in mind that bees see the color red as black, so fluorescent orange is a better clothing choice when hunting.
Avoid wearing scents of any sort when hiking or working outside. Africanized honey bees communicate to one another using scents and tend to be quite sensitive to odors. Avoid strongly scented shampoo, soaps, perfumes, heavily scented gum, etc. If riding, avoid using fly control products on your horse with a "lemony" or citrus odor. Such scents are also known to provoke or attract honey bees.
Be particularly careful when using any machinery that produces sound vibrations or loud noises. Bees are alarmed by the vibration and/or loud noises produced by equipment such as chain saws, weed eaters, lawn mowers, tractors or electric generators. Honey bees may also be disturbed by strong smells, such as the odor of freshly cut grass. Again, check your environment before you begin operating noisy equipment.
Pet safety. When hiking it is best to keep your dog on a leash or under close control. A large animal bounding through the brush is likely to disturb a colony and be attacked. When the animal returns to its master, it will bring the attacking bees with it. At home, be careful not to tie or pen animals near honey bee hives. The animals receive numerous stings because they can't escape the bees. If your animals or pets are being stung, try to release them without endangering yourself.
The best way to prevent bees from establishing a colony on your property is to not provide them with an ideal environment for survival. Honey bees require three things in order to survive: food, water and shelter.
Remember, honey bees also nest in a wide variety of locations and may enter openings as small as 3/16-inch in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser) as long as there is a suitable-sized cavity behind the opening for a nest.
Eliminate shelter. To prevent honey bees from settling in your house or yard, you will need to be vigilant in preventing potential nesting sites.
Look for large numbers of bees passing into and out of or hovering in front of an opening. Listen for the hum of active insects. Look low for colonies in or at ground level, and also high for colonies under eaves or in attics.
Keep everyone away from the colony. Look in the Yellow Pages under "bee removal" or "pest control" for the names of beekeepers or pest control operators in your area who are qualified to remove the colony. Do not try to remove colonies yourself!
With the arrival of the Africanized honey bee in Arizona, people need to be more cautious when hiking, hunting, fishing, biking, or horseback riding, etc. out of doors. But remember, there is a variety of venomous creatures here and Africanized honey bees are only one potential hazard. So it pays to always stay alert.
About Africanized and European honey bees:
Do's and Dont's:
1. Look out for honey bee colonies when outdoors. There are estimated to be approximately 250,000 wild bee colonies in Arizona. Honey bees nest in a wide variety of locations, such as pipes, holes, animal burrows or even in cavities within saguaro cacti or trees. Be alert for groups of flying bees entering or leaving an entrance or opening and listen for buzzing sounds. Be especially alert when climbing, because honey bees often nest under rocks or within crevices between rocks. Don't put your hands where you can't see them.
2. If you find a colony of bees, leave them alone and keep others away. Do not shoot, throw rocks at, try to burn or otherwise disturb the bees. If the colony is near a trail or near areas frequently used by humans, notify your local office of the Parks Department, Forest Service, or Arizona Game and Fish even if the bees appear to be docile. Honey bee colonies vary in behavior over time, especially with changes in age and season. Small colonies are less likely to be defensive than large colonies, so you may pass the same colony for weeks and then one day provoke them unexpectedly.
3. Keep your dogs under control. If a dog disturbs a colony when bounding through the bush, it is likely to bring the bees back to you.
4. Wear light colored clothes, including socks. Bees target objects that resemble their natural predators (bears and skunks) when they defend their nests, so they tend to go after dark leathery or furry objects. Keep in mind that bees see the color red as black, so flourescent orange is a better choice when hunting.
5. Avoid wearing scents of any sort when hiking. Africanized honey bees communicate to one another using scents, and tend to be quite sensitive to odors. Avoid strongly scented shampoo, soaps, perfumes, heavily scented gum, etc. If riding, avoid using fly control products on your horse with a "lemony" or citrus odor. Such odors are known to provoke or attract honey bees.
6. Be particularly careful when using hany heavy equipment that produces sound vibrations, such as chainsaws, weed eaters, tractors or generators.
7. Keep escape routes in mind. If at all possible, avoid areas where you cannot escape quickly if attacked.
8. If you know you are allergic to bee stings, always have someone else with you when doing outdoor activities.
What to do if you are attacked by honey bees:
If you are attacked while hiking or hunting, the best action is to run as far and as fast as possible. Pull your shirt up over your head to protect your face, but make sure it does not slow your progress. Run to shelter (vehicle or building) if available. Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms, since they are attracted to movement. Entering water is not recommended. The bees may wait for you to come up for air.
Africanized honey bees (the so-called "killer bees") arrived in Arizona in 1993. Some colonies of Africanized honey bees defend their nests with more vigor and in greater numbers than the common European honey bee. When bees defend their colonies, they target furry and dark-colored objects that resemble their natural enemies: bears and skunks. Therefore your pets are likely to be stung when bees are disturbed. Animals that are penned or tied up near honey bees are in special peril.
About Africanized and European honey bees:
Do's and Dont's:
What to do if your animal is involved in a serious stinging incident:
Try to get the animal away from the bees WITHOUT ENDANGERING YOURSELF. Call your dog inside your house or car, or release the animal IF IT WILL NOT HARM THE ANIMAL OR OTHERS NEARBY. Do not attempt to approach a person or an animal being stung without some sort of protection (such as a bee keeper's suit) because the bees are likely to attack you as well. If you approach an animal that is being stung, remember that an injured animal may bite or attack unexpectedly. If you release penned livestock, be aware that an unrestrained animal may run into the road and be hit by a car, or may run away. And if the animal runs to you with aroused bees following it, you are likely to be stung.
If possible, douse the animal with a shower of soapy water which will kill any bees clinging to it. A mild solution of liquid dish detergent in water (approximately 1/2 cup soap per gallon of water) will immobilize honey bees and kill them within 60 seconds.
Covering the animal with a heavy blanket during a serious stinging incident may also discourage the bees.
Once the animal is away from bees look for stingers. When a honey bee stings, it loses its venom sac and stinger. This means the honey bee dies after it stings, but also that the stinger may continue to inject venom for up to a minute or until the stinger is remove. If you can see stingers on the animal, remove them by scraping them out with a credit card, knife or fingernail. Do not pull them out with tweezers or fingers because you will squeeze more venom into the animal.
If an animal has sustained numerous stings, you may want to consult your veterinarian. The number of stings an animal can survive depends on its body weight, the amount of venom it received, and whether or not it is allergic to bee venom. As with humans, even one sting may be dangerous if the animal is allergic (although rare).
Honey bees and your swimming pool: not a good mix
Honey bees are one of the most beneficial insects to humans. They help pollinate our crops (like apples, melons and almonds), produce the sweet honey and make beeswax, which is important in the cosmetic and candle industries.
Because they are a social insect, living in colonies of up to 60,000 individuals, they need lots of food and water to keep the nest alive. The queen lays all the eggs in the colony and the worker bees do all the work. Worker bees normally forage on flowers for nectar and pollen. Nectar is the sweet flower sap that bees make into honey by evaporating off the excess water. Pollen is the protein resource bees feed their young larvae.
Bees store their food and raise their young in the honeycomb nest. Honeycomb is made from beeswax, which is secreted by young worker bees, and fashioned into the familiar honeycomb hexagonal shape. Because bees live in these wax combs, though, they have to keep the nest at a constant temperature, not only to keep the colony from overheating, but also to prevent the wax from melting. In hot weather, bees cool the colony much like your swamp or evaporative cooler does - by evaporating off drops of water. Bees collect water and spread it throughout the colony in droplets. Then they fan the air to creat an air stream over the water drops, causing the water to evaporate and thus lowering the nest temperatures.
When bees forage for water, they are not too fussy about where they collect it. It could be from a small, muddy puddle, a stream or your swimming pool, irrigation system, swamp cooler or birdbath. It is when bees come in contact with people, especially at swimming pools, that people notice them. Then they are considered not only a nuisance, but also a hazard.
Here are some tips on how to keep bees away from your pools.
In addition, you should monitor other water sources and discourage bees from frequent visits. Here are some tips.
If you notice bees nosing around your shed, house or other small hole in your wall or foundation, these are probably scout bees looking for a new home site for a swarm. Make sure every hole larger than 1/4-inch in diameter (about the size of a pencil), is caulked up.
Bees belong to an ancient species that has continually adapted to the many challenges posed by the environment. As a result, a highly organized society has evolved. The development of a community lifestyle to ensure survival is but one example of the species' evolutionary adaptations.
The hive of the honeybee provides a delectable prize for many predators. Insects such as ants, wasps, and other bees are common intruders, as well as many mammals - bears, skunks, badgers, raccoons, possums, anteaters, mice, and humans. The attack behavior of bees developed as a defense to certain stimuli that signal the hive is in danger from an intruder. When honeybees attack in large, they are defending their colony. A bee will rarely sting when it is away from the colony foraging on pollen, nectar or water. However, a bee may sting if it is handled roughly (swatted at or stepped on), or feels alarmed in any way. Generally, if you leave a bee alone, it will leave you alone.
The following is an excerpt about colony defense from Bees and Beekeeping - Science, Practice, and World Resources by Eva Crane.