Before we break out cans of discount wasp spray, I hope everyone takes a minute to differentiate between long-suffering, food-producing honey bees and the other nasty stinging things that swarm the summer skies (recent bee hysteria in an Indiana town  inspired this article).

I have two qualifications for writing this ode to the honey bee. A.) I’ve thought beekeeping the coolest hobby on Earth since I browsed through my grandfather’s discarded farming catalogs at 11 and B.) a bee sting will put me in anaphylactic shock if untreated. 

Combining those two, you can likely understand my interest in our friends, the honeybees.

1.) Over 30% of our food is connected to honey bees or their pollination. If they die, we die.

A Wlliam Broughton Carr style bee hive.

2.) Honeybees attack for only two reasons: you either have to physically grab them, or they must perceive you as a danger to the hive. That’s it. And it’s true that honey bees die after they sting; along with the stinger and poison sac comes their intestines. Evolution wouldn’t be doing its job if bees just stung things willy-nilly. This includes Africanized bees.

3.) Slow, deliberate movements do not alarm bees, but rapid, jerking movements do (such as hands swishing through the air). If you want to get away from a bee, walk away slowly and calmly. Don’t yelp shrilly and blindly slap at them

4.) Learn how to differentiate bees from other insects. I found a source at the Arizona State University website. It’s so good I won’t bother condensing the info. Just check out the link HERE.

5.) Since the 1950s, Colony Collapse Disorder has destroyed roughly half the agricultural hives in North America. The disorder is accelerating, with a cause and solution still unknown. If you want to know how serious this is, refer to my first point.  Then read up on it HERE.  

6.) Worker bees triangulate and remember nectar sources using their location, the location of the hive and the location of the Sun. They share this information with other workers with specific body movements, although some scientists speculate odors and even electrical fields might be involved. More on that HERE