Bee problems

11:46 a.m. on July 31, 2006 (EDT)
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I've never been on a hiking trip, so I was wondering: Should I be concerned about running into bees/wasps/hornets on my hikes. I have developed an allergic reaction to these since I ran into a nest many years ago. As a kid, these never bothered me when stung.

I'm aware I should probably care the proper shots in my first aid pack, and all of that, but what are the chances I would run into such critters?

Any one have tales to tell?


12:17 p.m. on July 31, 2006 (EDT)
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If you keep your eyes open and keep listening, you should have no problems with bees, wasps, or hornets. Insect repellents will keep them away, as well as mosquitos, black flies, and noseeums.

The only time I have had trouble with bee and wasp stings was with youth groups. The kids seem to love playing with bee trees and wasp nets, even after lots of warnings. Well, ok, you expect that. After all, kids, especially teenage boys, are Immortal, Invulnerable, and Omniscient (which means they know it all). So risks are interpreted as challenges.

Yes, carry your epipen and antihistamines, and make sure your companions know how to assist you in using them. But it is a very low risk, lower than breaking a leg or burning yourself with the campfire.

12:45 p.m. on July 31, 2006 (EDT)
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Your chances of stumbling into a nest of bees on an established trail are close to zero. Depending on the trail, you may encounter bees pollinating flowers on or near the trail, but generally in no greater quantity than you'd see in a backyard garden or city park.

I've never been stung hiking, and only once while climbing. I put my hand in a crack that apparently contained a small nest of yellowjackets and was stung several times. Luckily I was on toprope and my belayer quickly reacted to my cry of "bees, bees, bees", lowering me to the ground in record time.

12:51 p.m. on July 31, 2006 (EDT)
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why just the other day, I was sitting in my neighbors screened-in porch enjoying a bottle of beer.

I took a swig from the botlle and "BAM", I felt the most excruciating pain in my upper lip.

A darn wasp was on the mouth of the bottle when I stuck in my face.

2:33 p.m. on July 31, 2006 (EDT)
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If you have alergic reactions to bees you should keep epi-pen close by. If you don't need it great, they don't weigh much, but the trail is a long way away from medical help.

3:18 p.m. on July 31, 2006 (EDT)

Been zapped by both bees and wasps while hiking/backpacking/climbing (including getting stung by a wasp about 60ft up a vertical rock face while climbing 2 wks ago). Less likely on established trails, more likely if you're climbing or bushwhacking. Also frankly depends on where you are. But don't antagonize them and your probability of getting stung is pretty low. Go out and enjoy, just keep an epi-pen with you at all times and make sure your hiking partner knows where it is and how to use it also.

11:22 a.m. on August 15, 2006 (EDT)

Hiking the PCT in the southern area where there are supposed to be "killer bees" and never had a problem. Bees will check out flower-colors (yellow, white) and perfume or after shave aids in the deception. I have had them land on me and leave. If they don't "butt heads" or "buzz" your face they are probably not agressive. I'm more cautious of stepping on Mr. Slithers and I've had three cat enounters I'd rather avoid. Otherwise WATER is the biggest issue (carry plenty)

5:12 p.m. on August 15, 2006 (EDT)

Several years ago, I was taking prednisone the doctor gave me for a skin problem..the treatment usually lasts for six days. I was working on the firewood up at the farm, which I did on a regular basis. In the space of a few hours I was stung 3 times by yellow jackets. I worked in the woods and encountered bees often and never got stung. I attribute the bees aggression to the prednisone treatment because of the drugs association with adrenaline which I believe they could detect...if you're allergic to bee stings, be careful if you are ever taking prednisone or another steroid type drug.

6:42 p.m. on August 15, 2006 (EDT)

a.k.a. james wedekind

I don't know where the rest of those folks have been hiking to say things like "near zero" chances of being stung by bees in the backcountry, but they sure haven't been in the Smokies. Yellow jackets (mostly) and black-faced hornets (the BAD BOYS) often nest in the ground and seem to like the access that a trail gives. I have been stung numerous times by both species on several occasions. A person hiking solo is usually OK, but the second or third person in a group gets nailed. The first person pisses them off, and the stragglers get it! They tend to be most voracious in late summer. Carry an epi and get the shots - or you are risking your life.

7:50 a.m. on August 16, 2006 (EDT)
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i had a similar encounter in pisgah national forest in the extended ball park of the smokies. we made a short hike back to a falls. there were a few people ahead of us and were just heading out when a bee started tormenting this fellow. it kind of got a chuckle out of everyone because it followed him every place he went. he escaped without injury. i wasn't so lucky. i was maneuvering for a better picture of the falls and before i could say "ouch" i was stung three different times. the evil little things came right out of the ground. usually bee stings don't bother me much, but these devils had me dancing for the next week. no fun.

granted, it was my fault for not taking the hint of the first fellow, but i've never seen an attack like that one before. now i know and knowing is half the battle.

take care of yourselves,


12:45 p.m. on August 16, 2006 (EDT)
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There was an article just today in the Wall Street Journal about the spread of Africanized bees. The South (where the Smokies are) has seen the greatest influx of these bees in the US, along with Texas and Arizona, and now into Southern California. Most of the rest of the US, especially those parts with cold winters (yeah, I know from personal experience, the Smokies gets snow every winter), has not been affected so far.

However, having spent a lot of time in even the parts of the US with Africanized bees, and having wasps around here in the SFBay Area that like to nest on the eaves of my house, I will still say the risk is small, especially when you can take precautions, if you educate yourself to the behavior and nesting patterns of wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and bees. Yes, I have been stung myself, the worst being in the back of the knee while hiking in shorts by what we call "sweat bees". And yes, there are a number of people who are sensitive to the point of anaphylactic reactions - those people should definitely carry an epipen (or rather the modern version, which is no longer called an "epipen").

Mainly, get educated, do a lot of observing while hiking, and take precautions, and the probability stays very low.

3:47 p.m. on August 16, 2006 (EDT)
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"I don't know where the rest of those folks have been hiking to say things like "near zero" chances of being stung by bees in the backcountry, but they sure haven't been in the Smokies."

No doubt. Yellow jackets are viscious and common here. Also, watch for Asian hornets, as well. I remember years ago in the Carson Springs area some pals of mine finding a large nest under a rock shelf. It did not end well!

3:54 p.m. on August 16, 2006 (EDT)
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Whoops...I meant to say "bald-faced hornet."

8:03 p.m. on September 18, 2006 (EDT)

Yellowjackets are horrible, especially now. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't hike. I am in the woods every weekend and 5 out of the last 5, members of our group, the Southernhighlanders, have been hit up to 5 times each. Yes, it is usually the last person too. Take Benadryl and an epi pen. Wear long pants. They are unusually vicious now, not sure why. Look for holes in the ground and mark holes for fellow hikers.

5:11 a.m. on September 19, 2006 (EDT)
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I'm curious as to where you make these hikes. Here in WV, I've run into two "holes" so far this season just doing my mowing. Fortunately, no stings. They actually seemed a little dormant, one of the holes was being weed-eaten pretty badly before I saw them, with no attacks. Two nests is above average for me in my yard of about 3 acres.


12:41 p.m. on September 19, 2006 (EDT)

All the yellowjacket problems have been in the Great Smoky Mtns Natl Park on both the TN and NC sides. Holes are plentiful but knowing which ones are active is anyone's guess. This time of year, they are in comptetion for food sources and are being attacked by skunks, which feed on the larva. Unhappy critters which use the trails like we do. Don't let it stop you, though. I put many miles in per week and have only managed a sting or two this past few months.

3:46 p.m. on September 20, 2006 (EDT)

I don't know where the rest of those folks have been hiking ... Yellow jackets .. nest in the ground and seem to like the ... a trail gives.

Yellow Jackets are not bees, but YES indeed they are annoying (worse than "killer bees") .. they like meat and egg (protein) and will fight you for it. Campers and fishermen leave protein laying around and the yellow jackets gang up around it. (they do live in the ground and will swarm you if you step on the hole). They are very dangerous.

Here in the SW they also have fire ants. These are yellow jackets without wings. There also a "tarantula hawk." Just the other day there was a guy molesting one and asking to get stung. I got by him and increased the distance.

Maybe more dangerous are the mosquitoes due to West Nile Virus and ticks. There's plenty of stuff out here to bite you, it's not just bees. And by coparison the bees are pretty tame. Still don't mess with swarms and if they are hed butting you: leave.

PS: ran into another cat on the PCT down by Lake Morena last Saturday noprth of Buckner Springs road fire house. The border patrol says they have been seeing young cats south of there. That's what makes me nervous. (and rattlers)

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