Sunday Science: Honeybee Facts


“Getting stung is one thing — getting stung in the face hurts,” says Scott Wilson with Heavenly Honey Apiary.

If you ask beekeeper Scott Wilson why he doesn’t eat bananas before going to work with his hives, he’ll tell you it’s because of their smell.

“Bees communicate by a chemical,” he says.

That chemical warning other bees to attack, he says, smells like bananas. Honeybees’ sense of smell is so sensitive that scents that we can’t pick up — they can. And that’s where the smoke comes in to keep us from getting stung.

“Some people will tell you it calms the bees. What it really does in helping to calm them is that it masks that communication to that one bee doesn’t communicate to the other bee, ‘Oh my gosh there’s an intruder!'” he says.

The smoke confuses the guard bees, which wait near the entrance for intruders like wasps. But if one does get in to steal food, the bees attack. And they can sting wasps multiple times, unlike humans.

“Because our skin is elastic, it breaks off. The barbed nature of the stinger stays in our skin. They [wasps] have a hard outer shell. So it pierces and doesn’t get stuck inside because it’s not rubbery like ours,” he says.

Wilson always leaves some of the honey there for the bees to use as food through the winter. They don’t hibernate, but they do stay tightly clustered to keep warm. The center of the hive is 92-94 degrees.

Read more here and view the video: