Seems like everyone on social media is getting lots of exposure these days for doing daring things with honeybees without wearing any protective equipment. And while it’s certainly true that a sign of a skilled beekeeper is being able to work bees and read their “mood” and likeliness to sting and then cover up (or not cover up) accordingly, it’s also important to remember that any hive of bees can be dangerous and should only be handled by an experienced beekeeper.
I can just see kids now trying to mimic what they see and getting stung up something terrible —
“But, Mom, I saw the guy do it on YouTube!”
I remember the first time catching a swarm with my mentor Al Friedle some years back. While I wore a full suit and even had my wrists and ankles taped to prevent stings, Al was blissfully scooping bees into a box bare-handed and without a veil. The reason Al could do that was that after nearly 50 years working with bees he knew that that situation was just a bivouac of bees on the move and looking for a new home and that they’d be pretty docile. I envied him and aspired to do likewise.
Today I have to admit that I love to show off my ability to work with the bees – whether that’s to wide-eyed clients watching from the safety of their living room as I dive headlong into a feisty removal or to folks watching videos on my YouTube channel. But I think it’s important that along with urging folks to protect pollinators and “save the bees” as I do often, that people remember that bees are a stinging insect and should always be avoided until a professional (or at least someone with a bee suit and gloves) is on scene.
You’ve been warned. Don’t try this at home.