Bee Fun Friday: Instinct to Climb

Pop quiz, hot shot.  A bee flies into your long, flowing hair and starts to climb upward.  What do you do?  What do you do?!  (fist bump if you get the movie reference)

There are a lot of things I have learned about bees simply by observing their behavior and their hive.  One of those things is how they act when they fly into something they can’t easily get out of, like long hair.  A bee in this situation will instinctively climb upward.  Shaking and flailing the hair makes the bee move upward even faster, and an angry bee that reaches the scalp will sting it!  If you’ve ever had this happen, you know the challenge.  The harder you try to get them out, the harder it is to get them out.

Unfortunately, this happened to my daughter a couple weeks ago.  I was inspecting the hives and she came out for a quick minute to say goodbye before leaving for college for the week.  Despite my daughter’s amazing ability to stay calm around bees when they’re landing on her, she got stung (and still did not freak out).

I decided to do a little reading on this apparent instinct for bees to climb upward when stressed.  Turns out, some smart people have researched this and the article to the right is where you can read about an experiment that with a swarm of bees that shows how they use this instinct to protect their colony.

And now to answer the question at the beginning of this blog.  When visiting your bees without a suit, and without your long hair pulled back, you may want to carry a comb in your pocket.  If a bee gets caught in your hair, don’t panic!  Slide the comb between your scalp and the bee to prevent the bee from climbing high enough to sting your head.  A bee is surprisingly hard to find when it’s tangled up in hair.  SLOWLY and gently comb the bee out of your hair.  A sting isn’t the end of the world for most of us, but it sure seems to hurt a lot more than stings on other parts of the body.  Bee careful!