It is no secret that the author of this article is a big fan of honey bees and bumble bees, and an unabashed promoter of bee-friendly landscaping. That is why I choose to begin this article with a factoid: Honey bees and bumblebees are totally different from wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. While honeybees and bumblebees (with the exception of the Africanized Honeybee) are not usually aggressive, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are. Wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets do play an important role in the ecosystem, which is eating other insect pests. However, they are aggressive enough that most university extension services recommend having their nests removed by a qualified pest control expert.
Honeybees and bumblebees, on the other hand, are extremely valuable as pollinators, and should not be killed. If you notice swarms of honeybees on your property, call a local beekeeper to remove the bees to his hives. Because honeybee populations are dwindling, it is absolutely preferable not to kill them.
Although honeybees and bumblebees are animals that you actually want int your garden, they do sting. As I said, most types of honeybees are not aggressive toward humans, but if provoked they will sting. You can avoid being stung by these highly beneficial insects by doing a few small and easy things, as recommended by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Cover as much of your body as you can with light-colored, smooth-finished clothing (this also prevents sunburn when working in the garden). Keep your yard free of sugary garbage, like remnants of soda from a barbecue. If you see a bee, don't swat at it. Remain still, and the honeybee or bumblebee will probably fly away. Swatting at the bee will increase the likelihood of it stinging you. From personal experience: Since every bee sting I have received has happened by stepping on a bee while walking barefoot in the grass, wearing shoes or sandals while playing or working outside is a very simple way to avoid the painful bee sting on the bottom of the foot.
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