Are Bees Dangerous to Humans?

Bees are good pollinators, making them an essential component of ecosystems around the world. Each time a bee visits a flower to collect nectar, pollen sticks to the bee. This causes the bee pollinate other plants, allowing them to develop fruit and reproduce. As much as humans depend on bees for pollination, few people enjoy living in close proximity to a beehive. In Arizona, where Africanized bees—sometimes called killer bees—are common, homeowners and business owners should always take extra precautions around bees, and have beehives removed by professionals.

 

Aggressiveness of Bees

Bees vary in aggressiveness. If you see a solitary bee out collecting nectar, it will generally leave you alone. If you disturb it or try to capture it, it may sting you. Keep in mind that once you’ve been stung, you’re likely to get stung again. A worker bee has a barbed stinger that sticks in the skin. As long as it remains in your skin, the stinger will continue to release venom and pheromones, which let other bees know that you’re a potential threat. This is why you may get stung repeatedly.

 

Queen bees aren’t typically seen outside of a hive unless they’re swarming to form a new colony. Since queen bees have normal stingers that lack barbs, they can sting you repeatedly without losing the stinger. Swarming bees will go the extra mile to protect their queen, so it’s best to stay away from them.

 

Africanized bees tend to swarm more often than other types of honey bees, and are also more defensive of their hives. These characteristics are what make Africanized bees so dangerous. If they perceive a threat, they will generally deploy a greater number of bees to defend the hive or queen, resulting in a large number of stings, which can be fatal to humans and pets.

 

Stings of Bees

Getting stung by a bee can cause moderate to severe pain, depending on the individual person’s pain threshold. The longer a stinger is left in the skin, the more it will hurt. It’s often thought that the best way to remove a stinger is to scrape it off the skin. However, getting the stinger out of the skin as quickly as possible is more important than the way in which you remove it. Even if you aren’t allergic to bee stings, you may still experience a painful local reaction. Follow these steps:

  • Apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling.
  • Use an oral or topical antihistamine medication.
  • Elevate the body part, if possible, to further reduce swelling.

 

Allergies to Bees

For people with allergies to bee stings, bees can be even more dangerous. Note that allergies can develop later in life—even if a person hasn’t previously had an allergic reaction to a bee sting, it’s possible to have one later on. People with diagnosed allergies should carry an epinephrine autoinjector with them, and use it quickly in the event of a bee sting.

Have you spotted a beehive near your home in Southern Arizona? Call Essential Pest Control at (520) 908-6251, and we’ll send licensed technicians out to your property to handle the problem. Our pest control company proudly serves Tucson, Oro Valley, and the surrounding areas.

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