A bee sting prevention guide for budding beekeepers
Most of us are under the impression that a beekeeper is fully protected from bee stings because of his protective clothing. We see beekeepers handle hundreds of bees at once and presume their protective clothing is all that they need. Interestingly enough, it is a lot more that goes into ensuring you do not get stung as a beekeeper. This information could be very useful for a first-time beekeeper... so here it goes!
Bees need to be treated delicately and respectfully. Bees are not aggressive and they only sting as a form of defense when threatened. For all our budding beekeepers out there… here are some skills you can apply to try minimising the chances of getting stung.
Wear protective gear This is the most obvious form of protection from bee stings. You can wear a veil and gloves, a jacket or a full suit. Some beekeepers don't mind a few stings on their hands, some just wear a veil to prevent stings on their face, and others want to avoid stings altogether. The extent of your protective wear is dependent on your comfort level as well as the temperament of the hive.
Use a smoker Beekeepers use smoke to calm honeybees and mask their pheromones, the chemicals they use to communicate. Remember, when a bee stings you it sends a sort of alarm to the other bees in the form of a pheromone that alerts the other bees of the potential danger. Beekeepers will puff some smoke into a hive prior to opening the hive to keep them docile and make for easier harvesting. Smokers are one of the key pieces of beekeeping equipment – so newbie beekeepers get yourself a smoker!
Place your hive in a smart location The location of the hives plays a role – bees are less irritable and easier to handle when located in the open where they can get plenty of sunshine.
Stay calm and never swat When a bee hovers around or is on you it usually stems from curiosity. It is essential to take a breath and let the bee explore for a bit in that moment. Once it realises you're not a flower and have no sweet nectar or sugar water to offer it, it will go peacefully on its way. Most bee stings happen when a person gets scared and begins to swat. If the bee continues to bother you, just walk away from it slowly. Eventually, it'll move on.