Common concerns about keeping bees

It’s not uncommon for the laymen to harbor a fear of bees. But a little digging shows they are far more docile than many consider.

Won’t your bees sting my family and me?

Bees only sting when they feel their food supply or children (brood) are in danger. If you and your family are going about your lives as usual the likelihood that the bees will threaten you this way is incredibly low.

Bees may be on the ground eating from clover or other ground cover flowers, but it’s unlikely they’ll sting a running child. Most kids move really fast, bees are relaxed and like quiet. Chances are, your kid playing will scare the bees into flying to safety long before they even think about stinging.

What if they swarm or chase me/my family around the yard?

Contrary to Hollywood portrayals, a bee swarm is not dangerous. When bees swarm, it’s because the hive is healthy and large. Indeed, a swarm is considered a sign of a strong colony that needs to split into two – which means around half of the bees need a new home.

The bees that leave the hive in a swarm to seek a new home are at their most docile. Typically, they have a “pit stop” on the way to their new home, as some worker bees go scouting for that new home. After a short period of time they will all set off and be gone. Patience is a virtue…

But I won’t be able to enjoy my porch/lawn now, with bees flying everywhere…

There will be a bee, or several, in your yard, but you are not going have a boatload of bees buzzing around your head or your food.

If you’re sitting outside enjoying a nice day, the bees won’t take any notice of you. In fact, there’s every chance they are there now and you just haven’t noticed.

How will this impact my garden?

Bees will be awesome for the productivity of your garden. Yes, they may be out in it while you are but, as above, the likelihood of being stung is very low. Indeed, it’s really no greater than it is now. The chances are bees already live in the area. If you’re not chased out of your garden now, there’s no reason that will change.

Bees go after the riches found in flowers, not you.​

But I’m allergic to bee stings and the bees in your yard will come after me.

If you’re among the 2% of the population with an anaphylactic allergy, your doctor will have already prescribed an epi-pen. In general, bee stings will hurt and itch for a while. The bees in your yard are no more likely to hunt you down and sting you than the bees already in the area.

I just don’t like the idea. Bees scare me. I don’t want them in your yard.

Hollywood has sure done a great job presenting bees has scary, mean, dangerous things. But they’re really not.

Bees provide us with the majority of our food and – unless they’re feeling threatened -won’t sting. They die when they sting, so the motivation to do so must be very high. Bees may be scary at first, but you’ll see – they’re actually very relaxing.

No. Just no. There’s too many objections to list, but I just don’t want bees that close to my home.

I understand why you feel that. There’s a lot that’s simply misunderstood about bees, but have you considered the positives they can bring to you and the community?

Bees are great for our the environment and our food supply. They also help flowers for miles around. Delve a little more, open your mind to their benefits and keep your concerns in perspective – the positives generally outweigh the negatives by a long, long way!

If you have kids, then bees and their story offer one of the most amazing science lessons you could ever wish to hear. 60,000 bees​, collaborating in a colony, all to support a queen who lays thousands of eggs per day, in a beehive that could produce hundreds of pounds of honey? It’s an incredible story – consider letting your kids enjoy and embrace this.

And if your neighbor keeps bees and is of a thoughtful ​disposition, you may have a jar of the most wonderful honey you have ever tasted in your future!

OK, OK! Point made. But I want to learn more. Where can I do that?

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about bees. In particular, if you are looking for a good intro to beekeeping, check out our detailed article The PerfectBee Introduction to Learning About Beekeeping.

Perhaps with some more knowledge, you won’t find bees so frightening and objectionable.

Because, honestly, they are not…