When considering dangerous pests, honeybees might not register very highly. While nearly everyone has had a bee sting, they are rarely dangerous unless you have an allergy to the bee venom. However, the recent fatal bee attack in Tucson is raising awareness of the threat that can be posed by a bee swarm, and given the conditions, more potentially deadly attacks are expected in the coming season.
Bee hives can hide inside shrubbery and in corners of basements or attics, and are easily disturbed by daily activity. If you bump into or break these hives while cleaning or doing yard work, the reaction of the bees can be quite aggressive as they attempt to protect their home.
There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from a bee attack in the event that you disturb a hive.
- Don’t Panic; While it is a myth that bees can smell fear, panic behavior can attract attention. Remain as calm as possible.
- Reduce Noise; If operating loud machinery such as lawnmowers or weed eaters stop them immediately.
- Don’t Freeze; Standing in a swarm is not advisable. If you have enough distance between yourself and the swarm, move away slowly. If you attract attention, you should run.
- Protect Your Eyes and Face; Use your hands to cover your eyes and face, peeking between fingers to see where you are going. You can close your fingers to crush the bees if they try to wriggle between them.
- Don’t Attack; It is a natural reflex to swat at insects, especially when they are buzzing close to your eyes or ears. Do your best to not attack them as they will defend themselves with the only weapon they have: their stinger.
- Vacate The Area; If you find yourself surrounded by bees, run to escape the swarm. While some may follow, most will naturally stay to protect the hive.
- Separate Yourself; If you are in an outdoor area, try to go inside and close the door or get into a vehicle. While some bees may follow, the door will protect you from the majority of the swarm. The remaining bees will be easier to deal with.
Once you are out of immediate danger, seek medical attention for an excessive number of stings and contact a pest control professional. Do not attempt to exterminate a hive yourself with commercial products as this can be dangerous.