This summer season’s wetter circumstances have created nice circumstances for flowering vegetation. Flowers present candy nectar and protein-rich pollen, attracting many bugs, together with bees.
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Whereas you could have seen a variety of bees round these days, there’s no purpose to be afraid. Most bees are solely aggressive when provoked, and a few don’t sting in any respect. And a few bee-like bugs are literally flies.
We’re consultants on honey bee and different insect behaviour. So let’s take a look at which bees to be careful for, and find out how to keep away from being stung this summer season.
Is it a bee, or a wanna-bee?
Bees in Australia comprise each launched and native species.
Invasive bees present in Australia, all of which may sting, embody the widespread European honeybees, bumble bees in Tasmania, and Asian honey bees in Queensland.
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Australia can also be dwelling to about 2,000 native bees, together with 11 stingless species.
Stingless bees stay in colonies and produce honey. Different native species, equivalent to blue banded bees and leaf cutter bees, are able to stinging however are not often aggressive.
Some bugs we see round flowers are literally innocent hoverflies. However their yellow and black stripes imply they’re usually mistaken for bees.
Bees out and about
Bees on flowers are often extra within the meals they’re accumulating than the folks round them. Nonetheless, if you happen to’re involved about encountering one in your morning stroll or within the backyard, there are easy methods to mitigate the danger.
Bees sting after they really feel threatened. So if you see one, transfer slowly and maintain your distance. If bees fly near you, keep away from sudden actions equivalent to swatting them away.
And put on closed sneakers the place bees would possibly fly near the bottom, equivalent to round clover or fallen jacaranda flowers.
What if I see a swarm?
In spring and into summer season, wholesome honeybee colonies could reproduce by dividing into two. One a part of the colony stays on the hive and the opposite goes in search of a brand new dwelling.
Employee bees and the queen bee go away the hive in a swarm and discover a spot to remain briefly whereas scout bees discover a new dwelling. That’s if you would possibly see a swarm on a tree, car or constructing.
As soon as scout bees discover a new dwelling, they return to the swarm and talk the situation by way of the “waggle dance”. As soon as a enough variety of scouts agree on a brand new nest website, the swarm lifts into the air and flies to its new dwelling.
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Don’t panic if you happen to encounter a stationary swarm of bees. The bees will sting provided that threatened. However maintain your distance.
Shifting swarms can pose the next sting danger, and ought to be prevented. In the event you encounter one, transfer a protected distance away, or indoors if doable. When transferring away, keep away from quick actions or swatting.
Swarms are often current for just a few hours or days earlier than they transfer to a everlasting location. If the bees are in a dangerous location (for instance, close to a footpath or different busy areas), name a beekeeper to soundly take away them.
Stingless native bees swarm for 2 causes: mating and preventing.
Mating swarms contain males congregating exterior a hive to mate with the queen. Preventing swarms happen when a colony of stingless bees makes an attempt to invade one other colony. They don’t often pose a danger to people.
Native bees able to stinging are solitary, so don’t swarm. Nonetheless, male solitary bees are recognized to group collectively on branches within the night.
When a bee sting occurs
Loss of life and severe harm from bee stings is uncommon. However in Australia, bees are chargeable for extra hospital visits than snakes or spiders. European honeybees are additionally chargeable for extra allergic reactions than some other insect.
Solely feminine bees can sting. Honeybees can solely sting as soon as, and die shortly after. It is because their stinger is barbed – as soon as it stings one thing, the bee can’t pull the stinger out. As an alternative the stinger pulls free from the bee’s stomach and the bee dies.
Different species can sting a number of instances as a result of their stingers should not barbed.
When a bee’s stinger enters your pores and skin, it injects venom from a sac on its stomach. When this occurs, you’re prone to expertise short-term swelling and redness.
For most individuals, reactions to bee venom are shortlived. To restrict the quantity of venom injected by the bee, rapidly take away the sting utilizing the sting of your fingernail or bank card.
In some circumstances, stings can result in extreme allergic reactions, together with anaphylaxis. In the event you assume you could have an allergy to bee stings, converse to your physician.
And search medical recommendation in case you are stung within the face or neck, if vital swelling happens or if you happen to develop signs equivalent to wheezing, light-headedness or dizziness.
Studying to love bees
Bees and different bugs play an vital position in our meals manufacturing, by transferring pollen from one plant to a different. They do an analogous job in your backyard, serving to flowers and fruits to flourish.
However worldwide, bees and different pollinators face many threats, together with local weather change, misuse of pesticides and habitat loss. We should do what we will to maintain pollinator populations wholesome.
So if you happen to’re out and about and see a bee, or perhaps a swarm, attempt to not panic. The bees are most likely targeted on the job at hand, and never curious about you in any respect.
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Caitlyn Forster receives funding from The Australian Analysis Council. She is affiliated with the Australasian Society for the Examine of Animal Behaviour
Tanya Latty receives funding from The Australian Analysis Council and AgriFutures Australia. She is affiliated with the Australian Entomological Society and The Australasian Society for the Examine of Animal Behaviour.