Is there anything more terrifying than a single honey bee who won't seem to leave you alone or anything quite so amusing as watching someone try and swat away or duck and run from one of these determined bees?
Recently, a friend was sharing the story of being on vacation, walking through a nicely landscaped garden area of their resort, and coming face to face with a honey bee who just wouldn't seem to leave them alone despite their best attempts to get away and remove themselves from the area.
It isn't uncommon, but why do honey bees do that?
Even most beekeepers have experienced this. We are more comfortable dealing with a swarm of thousands than a lone bee with its sights set on you.
As far as bees go, a swarm is pretty docile. This is primarily because swarms happen when the bees are looking for a new home. During the swarming period, they don't really have a home to protect. They have nothing to defend, no address, no possessions, no kids. Since there's nothing for us to steal, we don't seem like much of a threat to them. It's how you see those impressive tiktoks or reels of beekeepers cutting the swarm out of a tree and carrying it around on a branch, or dropping it in a cardboard box without so much as a veil.
But that single worker bee who is after you? It's likely a guard bee. She's on a mission to protect her home, queen, food stores, and the all-important brood nest. While most guards work close to the hive, one or more may decide to go looking for trouble to prevent a threat from ever getting anywhere near the hive.
What sets these bees off can be a mystery, especially when it's not bothering the rest of the colony. It can be something simple, like a lawnmower or weedeater. You could mow around dozens or hives—tens of thousands of bees—and one individual bee will decide you're a problem. And there is basically nothing you can do once these loners decide to go after you. They head-butt, circle, and dive-bomb, and if they get the chance, yeah, they will sting you.
A good rule of them if a bee does try to intimidate you is to try your best to remain calm and walk away from it. Do not thrash, swat, or run. Most likely, you will be able to leave it behind or lose it once you are out of a range where it feels threatened.
If you do get stung by a honeybee, the first thing to do is to get the stinger out quickly. The longer the stinger stays in the skin, the more venom it releases, adding to the person's pain and swelling.
To treat a sting from a bee, wasp, or hornet, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
Stay calm. Although most bees usually only sting once, wasps and hornets can sting again. If you are stung, calmly walk away from the area to avoid additional attacks.
Remove the stinger. If the stinger remains in your skin, remove it by scraping over it with your fingernail or a piece of gauze. Never use tweezers to remove a stinger, as squeezing it can cause more venom to release into your skin.
Wash the sting with soap and water.
Apply a cold pack to reduce swelling. However, if the swelling moves to other parts of your body, such as your face or neck, go to the emergency room immediately, as you might be having an allergic reaction. Other signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, nausea, hives, or dizziness.
Consider taking over-the-counter pain medication. Bee, wasp, and hornet stings are painful. Painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve the pain. Always follow the directions on the label and use the correct dose.
Although most people do not experience severe reactions to bee stings, it's a good idea to keep an eye on anyone who has been stung in case they develop more serious symptoms. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, or if you or someone you know has been stung multiple times — particularly if he or she is a child — seek medical attention immediately.