A few factors of running an apiary might give potential beekeepers a pause. Where will you keep your hives? How will you sell honey at the end of the season? Even if you have all the details figured out, you might still struggle with one big dilemma: the fear of bee stings. This fear causes kids and adults alike to steer clear of any stinging insect—from easily irritated hornets to the fluffy bumble bee. However, most people make stings into a much bigger deal than they are. Don’t let your anxiety prevent you from pursuing a noble and fulfilling hobby. With a little knowledge and experience, you can learn how to overcome the fear of stings when beekeeping.
Bee-Friend the Bees
Facing your fears is hard, but it does help. The more you learn about honey bees, the more you’ll realize how docile these creatures are. If you can’t bear the idea of being around honey bees, start by doing some research. For example, did you know that not all honey bees can sting? Only the females—the queen bee and her workers—have a stinger. Furthermore, the worker bees that make up most of a hive’s population don’t want to sting people. They only do it to protect themselves and the hive. If you learn the warning signs of an agitated honey bee, such as louder buzzing or flying aggressively toward the threat, you’ll be able to de-escalate the situation before you or the bees get hurt.
Learn To Avoid Stings
The unfortunate truth is that honey bee stings are inevitable. However, they’re also remarkably rare. Beekeepers work around thousands of honey bees, but a talented beekeeper can make it through an entire season without receiving a sting. A few practical tips can help you avoid the vast majority of bee stings. First and foremost, act calmly and confidently when you work around your hives. Honey bees will sense a nervous or uncertain beekeeper and see them as a threat to the hive. When you’re calm, your bees are calm, too. Next, learn how to use your honey bee equipment properly. While experienced beekeepers can get away with only using a hat and veil, beginners might feel much more comfortable with a suit, gloves, and other protective equipment.
Know What To Do with a Sting
When learning how to overcome the fear of stings when beekeeping, you’ll benefit from having a plan if the worst does happen. Knowing that you can handle a sting will make the concept much less frightening. Learn how to properly remove a stinger from your skin by gently scraping it out with a fingernail or piece of gauze. If you try to remove the stinger with tweezers or by pinching it with your fingers, you might squeeze more venom into your skin, making the pain and reaction more intense. Once the stinger is out, wash the area with soap and water. You can apply a cold pack, creams, or pain medications to reduce swelling and ease the pain. Finally, find out if you’re allergic to honey bees. If you are, keep the proper medications and other necessary supplies on hand to quickly treat a sting.
Did you have to overcome a fear of honey bees or their stings? Share your advice and stories with us in the comments below!