The best way to avoid bee stings is prevention. Effective prevention means not attracting bees and not frightening them if they are present. Prevention techniques are especially important in the fall, when most stings occur. It takes 2 million visits to flowers to make one pound of honey. In the autumn, as flowers disappear, bees search more widely for food and take more risks.
To avoid attracting bees, try the following:
- Avoid fragrances, including hair spray, scented soaps, lotions, and oils. Bees usually approach children with a sweet scent. Avon’s Skin-So-Soft may make bees less apt to explore, and it is safe even on young children.
- Don’t wear brightly colored clothing, particularly floral patterns, i.e. don’t look like a flower patch. Bees also see in the ultraviolet range. If the pattern lights up under black light, it is particularly interesting to bees.
- Be very careful with food. Cans of soda are notorious: Bees climb in unobserved, and are frightened into stinging when the child drinks. Something as small as a forgotten raspberry jam stain on a sweater can be a problem.
If a bee does land, take steps to avoid frightening it:
- Hold still. Tell kids to pretend they’re statues. Rapid movement startles the bee and encourages stinging.
- Try blowing gently on the bee. This can encourage it to move on while not startling it.
- Wear shoes. Bees will of course be frightened if you step on or near them. Shoes don’t make them less frightened, but they do protect feet from frightened bees.
- Wear long pants when you know you are going to be in an area that is likely to have bees in it, such as a field.
- Wear a hat. Furry animals steal honey from bees. Bees are in a heightened state of readiness when they are close to hair or fur. They have been proven to have a lower threshold for stinging people with hats.
Reviewed by: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, Alan Greene
Last reviewed: September 12, 2007