A good share of people have not had the opportunity to study bees and so, to the multitudes, a bee is an insect that might settle down with painful results.

Bumblebees, honeybees, wasps, hornets, and even some buzzing flies are considered by many to be dangerous, or at least a nuisance. I’m sure most of us know someone who is extremely frightened of biting bees. However, why people say “bite” rather then “sting” when they know it’s done from the other end, is a mystery to a majority of naturalists.

There are a few useful tips concerning ways to avoid getting stung by insects. Bright colors attract insects, making khaki an ideal outdoor color and fabric. Do not wear perfume, scented lotion, or hair spray. These and food smells attract insects. Be careful when you’re mowing a lawn, cutting vines, and pulling weeds. It’s best to wear a hat, gloves, long sleeves and pants, and avoid going barefoot.

Don’t swat at bees — they’re only investigating you. Act like a slow-moving tree. If you are in an open area and are attacked by stinging insects, run through a wooded area where leaves and branches will hinder the direct and speedy pursuit. If a stinging insect flies into your car, stop slowly and open all windows. A stopped or slowed vehicle will give the insect an opportunity to leave.


Jim Gilbert taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.