Beekeeping 101: How Not to Get Stung While Handling Your Bees

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about  212,000 people in the U.S. keep bees. But according to common sense, many more people love honey. So, why do so few people keep bees? It may be because not everyone understands how not to get stung when keeping bees.

If fear of the sting has prevented you from keeping bees, a little knowledge will go a long way. Before we talk about how not to get stung, you should first understand the reasons bees sting.

Why Do Bees Sting?

While many people are afraid of bee stings, the truth is that bees don’t like to sting people. In fact, when they do sting, they literally give up their lives for it.

That’s because barbs shape their stingers. And because bees aren’t particularly strong, once they insert their stinger into someone, they can’t pull it out without their abdomen and digestive track coming along with it. That, of course, leads to death.

Why would a bee die to sting you? Because bees have two jobs in life: to protect the queen bee and to protect the hive. That’s why when bees are out gathering nectar and pollen, they aren’t likely to sting you. They’re too busy concentrating on bringing back the goodies to the hive.

But when you approach a bee’s hive and try to extract the honey, the bees become agitated and may sting you. Luckily, you can learn how to get honey without suffering a painful sting.

Here are 11 ways to keep your bees from stinging you.

How Not to Get Stung By Your Bees

Before we tell you how not to stung when handling your bees, it’s important to know that sometimes bees can still sting you even when taking the best precautions. It only makes sense that when bees surround you and you try to take their honey, a sneaky bee might figure out what you’re doing.

But if you follow these 11 tips, bee stings will be much less likely.

1. It’s okay to smoke when…

Smoking is bad for your health, but when learning how to get honey without getting stung, smoke will definitely play in your favor. When a bee senses smoke, it thinks the hive is on fire.

To protect the hive from damage, the bees begin eating all the honey they can to take as much nutrition with them as possible when moving away from the “burning” hive.

But eating all that honey makes bees lethargic. The bees become less aggressive as the food-coma state makes them less energetic. That’s the perfect time to collect all that honey, and that’s how to not get stung by your bees.

2. Do what suits you

You’ve likely seen bee suits, but did you know they are the second most effective method when it comes to learning how not to get stung? If you combine a bee suit with a smoker, you will be on your way to learning how not to get stung.

Bee suits are protective gear that allows you to get close to the hive with some form of protection from the bees. Some people wear full bee suits that consist of full-body coverage and a veil and gloves. Other beekeeper jackets only cover your upper torso and utilize a veil and gloves.

The veil covers your head and face and typically hangs from a hard rim around the hat. That gives you space to see the bees, and if one lands on the veil and stings, it won’t touch your face. The gloves are leather and are long enough to cover your arms up to the elbow.

Although bees suits count as protective clothing from bees and their stings, they aren’t foolproof. If a bee crawls into your gloves or wiggles their way down a shirt collar, you could still get stung. But hopefully, the smoker will lull your bees into a food coma before you attempt to collect the honey.

3. Don’t go dark

Bees are attracted to dark colors, which is why bee suits are white. If you choose not to wear a bee suit and instead wear your own clothes, be sure to wear light colors.

White is best because it won’t make the bees feel threatened the way dark colors will.

4. Don’t block the door

Bees use one way in and one way out of a hive, and if you stand in front of the entrance (or exit), the bees will become agitated. To show you that they are going to sting you unless you move, they will begin thumping into you with their bodies.

Take this as a warning, and if you want to learn how not to get stung, quickly step aside so the bee’s entrance is no longer blocked.

5. Go against your instincts

Most people’s first instinct when a bee is buzzing around them is to swat at it. Unfortunately, this “instinct” can cause the bees to sting you. That’s because bees see fast movements as a threat, and they may sting to counteract that threat.

Instead of swatting at buzzing fees, move slowly and deliberately. The bees won’t feel threatened and you can more easily learn how to get honey without getting stung.

Here’s an inspiring video that shows how friendly bees are when they don’t feel threatened:

6. Pay attention to the noise

You can tell a lot about how bees are feeling by the activity of the hive. If the bees begin buzzing louder and thumping up against you, it’s a sign that they aren’t happy. And unhappy bees sting.

When the buzz becomes loud or the activity picks up, you should walk away for a moment to give them time to settle down. If you want to continue what you’re doing, pull out the smoker and lull the bees back into their coma-like drowsiness.

7. Don’t freshen up for the bees

Scents attract bees. After all, they gather around flowers with their fragrant scents to collect nectar. Because good smells attract bees, you should never wear a fragrance when retrieving your bees’ honey.

Wearing a fragrance won’t ensure that you get stung, but it will draw more bees to you. And the more bees that buzz around you, the more likely it is that one of them will sting you.

8. Welcome the new bees with a little sugar

Everyone, including bees, likes a warm welcome. When installing a new package of bees, it might be tempting to pull out the smoker to calm the bees while you introduce the new ones to the hive. But doing so will alarm the new bees that their new hive isn’t safe.

Instead, spray some sugar water on the package of new bees, and install them as they are cleaning themselves. Because they will be so busy with that task, they are less likely to sting you.

9. One sting doesn’t have to mean more

If a bee does manage to sting you, even after all your precautions, it’s time to move away from the hive. That’s because when a bee stings, it emits a pheromone that the rest of the hive will smell. That pheromone tells the other bees that the hive is under attack, and they should take action.

If you move away from the hive after a sting, the bees will see that the “threat” is gone.

10. Make a clean getaway

Your purpose is to remove the frames with all that gooey and delicious honey. The bee’s purpose is to protect the honey at all costs. That’s why it’s important to ensure that when you remove the frame, there are no bees on it.

If a stray bee or two is still on the frame, they will emit another pheromone that tells the other bees where they (and the honey) are. All the other bees will chase after the honey, which you hold in your hand!

To make a clean getaway, be sure your frame contains nothing but that awesome honey.

11. Start small

When learning how not to get stung when tending to your bees, it’s a great idea to start small. You can find a 10-frame beginner hive kit from places like Little Giant and see how you do.

Once you master the art of knowing how to get honey without suffering a sting, you can add more frames and bees to the hive.

Solved: How Not to Get Stung When Collecting Honey

Raising bees is a satisfying art that allows you to collect honey from your very own hive. Don’t let the possibility of a bee sting prevent you from practicing this art. Instead, when you learn how not to get stung, you will gain confidence. And soon, you will have more jars of honey than you know what to do with!

Are you a beekeeper? If so, do you have any other ideas that will help other beekeepers? Share them in the comments!


A Beginners Guide to How to Start a Beehive for Cheap

Learning how to start a beehive may help save the environment because preserving our bee population should remain one of our priorities.

Our reliance on pesticides and the build-up of urban areas means that entire bee colonies risk extinction. An essential solution to the decline of the bee population is learning how to start a beehive from scratch.

As well as preserving the bee population, the thought of producing your own honey in your backyard feels too delicious a prospect to miss.

When you learn how to start a beehive, you also experience the ancient art of honey making. Plus, learning how to start a beehive in your backyard doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you may achieve excellent results with only a modest budget.

How to Start a Beehive

If you wonder how to start a beehive, the answer may not seem as daunting as you expect. With a little bit of space and some spare time, you can quickly build your bee colony from scratch without a considerable investment.

However, some states have strict requirements when it comes to the legality of keeping bees, so you need to check that out before you begin your new adventure.

You will require some essential equipment to begin beekeeping, including a smoker, protective equipment, and a beehive. The crucial factor remains the colony of bees itself, whether you chose to collect bees from the wild or purchase a colony.

However, you decide to start your colony, learning how to start a beehive from scratch may prove a fascinating and rewarding hobby.

How to Start a Beehive Without Buying Bees

Before you start your hive, you need to understand how you source your colony. You can buy bees, but if you want to learn how to start a beehive on the cheap, then gathering your bees from the wild remains your best choice.

When practicing how to start a beehive with wild bees, you first need to start collecting them.

Gathering your swarm

You will need a breathable container such as a cardboard box in which to catch your bees. You may also require a bee brush or a bee smoker to coax the insects into the container.

Bees on a flat surface such as a fence post may be difficult to catch. The easiest way to catch bees from the wild are bees on tree branches. By gently shaking the branch inside your cardboard box, you may easily collect your first bees.

Tools of the trade for collecting bees

While gently shaking the branch into the box to collect your specimens remains a cost-effective method, a small investment in some basic tools can make for speedier work.

A bee brush

A bee brush has long, soft, non-ridged bristles that gently move the bees into your container. Coaxing the bees into the box with a bee brush will not harm or injure the bee.

Furthermore, the bee brush is useful to remove bees from honeycomb when harvesting honey. However, this method is time-consuming, and you might find a bee smoker more beneficial and quicker.

A bee smoker

A bee smoker is a device that beekeepers use to calm the bees. The handheld device generates a calming smoke from the smoldering of various fuels and gently envelopes the bees. Consequently, using a smoker makes for easier collection of your wild bees.

So, when it comes to collecting honey from your hive, the smoker will calm the colony and aid with removing the bees from the honeycomb to collect the nectar.

Sweet enticement

Whether you shake the branch, use a bee brush, or a smoker to collect your bees, a little sugar solution inside the box will attract the bees. Then, once in the box, they remain inside the container, feeding on the sugar solution.

When collecting a large swarm of wild bees, the smoker may serve as an invaluable tool because you can use it to control the bees’ direction.

By pointing the smoker in the direction you don’t want the bees to go, you may corral them. Learning how to start a beehive may make you a bee whisperer yet!

Preparation of your bees

Misting your collected bees with sugar solution will stop the bees from flying while moving them to their new hive. Use only a little solution as you don’t want to drown them!

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Beehive?

You want to learn how to start a beehive on the cheap, and the good news is that it won’t cost you a fortune. To successfully start your colony, you need some basic items.

The hive

Once you collect your bees, they need somewhere to live. A beehive starter kit with 8 to 10 frames is the best place to start without spending a fortune.

The smoker

We now understand that a bee smoker is one of the most useful and essential pieces of equipment. Because the smoker calms the bees, you remain less likely to receive stings from your colony.

Entrance reducer

The last thing you want is rodents getting into your hive and destroying your colony. Therefore, an entrance reducer will lessen the risk of rodent invasion.

Protective gear

Most starter kits come with protective gear. At the very least, you need gloves and a veil to start your beekeeping hobby safely.

Choose Your Kit Wisely

Prices vary from kit to kit. So, it remains imperative that you choose a kit pertinent to you, especially when working on a tight budget. Some kits may contain items you don’t need initially.

Remember, once you learn how to start a beehive on the cheap, you can always add to it later.

Hive build

We have all seen images of the classic wooden beehive. But, synthetic materials are on the rise and might just be the perfect choice for you.

Plastic Hives

Plastic hives remain tough and durable and don’t require as much maintenance as a wood hive. However, a plastic hive remains susceptible to warping when exposed to heat. Plus, you may find that your hive rejects the plastic.

Keeping bees is an environmentally friendly past-time, and a plastic hive is not environmentally friendly because it doesn’t bio-degrade.

Wooden hives

Wood remains the preferred material for hives by professional beekeepers. You may find that the bees take to the wood naturally, and the colony will establish easier.

Not only that, wood hives prove economical compared to their synthetic counterparts and remain the ultimate in ecofriendly materials.

Still, wood has its drawbacks. Wood degrades over time and will need replacement. And natural wood material remains vulnerable to weather conditions. Also, wax moths love wood and may chew their way through your hive.

Hybrid hives

Synthetic wood hives blend plastic and wood fibers and have all the benefits of plastic hives with the biodegradable friendliness of wooden hives.

But before you just to this option, keep in mind that hybrid hives remain an expensive option.

Location Remains Key

Where you place your hive is crucial to its success. Consider the following when you learn how to start a beehive.


You will need easy access to your hive for maintenance. Give the hive and yourself ample space in which to work and feel comfortable.


Bees require the sun to start their activity but not too much to damage the hive’s health. Provide sun in the morning but shade in the afternoon.

Make a beeline

Bees tend to make a beeline for the same favored location. A garden or field remains ideal as long as humans don’t traffic the area.

They gave me water

Like all living things, bees require water. They use water to keep hydrated but also use it to regulate moisture content within the hive.

The clever little bees use droplets of water to dilute their honey.

So, it is worth providing the bees with a natural source of water that keeps them away from your pool!

How to Start a Beehive Explained

Learning how to start a beehive may not seem as daunting a task as you think. Besides, you can achieve excellent results on a tight budget.

While you may mail-order colonies of bees for your hive, collecting bees from the wild is the most economical way to start your colony. With some basic equipment, you may collect your bees in a cardboard box to start.

A basic beekeeping kit will help you begin without costing a fortune. Most beekeeping kits come with the basics, including a smoker and protective gear, to get you started.

Remember to start with a hive containing 8 to 10 frames.

Choose a suitable location for your hive and ensure you follow any local regulations regarding beekeeping.

Do you have any experience with beekeeping? Leave a comment below!

Author bio

Sean Kerr lives in Cardiff, Wales, and is a published author with over 10 novels to his name so far and still counting. As well as writing his next bestseller, Sean also runs a successful jewelry making business and sells his creations online.