Too dangerous for our yards and community?

Grandson with strawberryOur grandson with a strawberry, its extra juiciness courtesy of a bee

As grandparents, we're concerned NOT about bee stings today, but about the loss of pollinators necessary to produce food for them in the future.

Kids can thrive in close association with small bees. In fact, there's one elementary school in Oregon that has a large population of just such a small bee nesting in their bare soil, and the kids call them "tickle bees"!

And kids can learn to stay away from bee nests if they're nesting nearby, just as they learn to stay away from the road—a far greater danger especially with so many people not attending to their driving these days. Much scarier than bees!

Bee pollinating squash ©Janet AllenBees pollinating our squash

Compare these statistics:

  • Fewer than 100 people die from bee stings every YEAR in the U.S.
  • 115 people die from car accidents every DAY in the U.S.

This doesn't keep people from driving, and we can get along without driving sooner than we can get along without food.

An occasional sting is a small price to pay for these free, essential services.

bumble bee pollinating raspberry ©Janet AllenA bumble bee pollinating our raspberries

And stings from native, soliltary bees are very unlikely. Why would they sting? That would likely result in the female dying, and therefore not laying her eggs—her reason for being. (The males cannot sting, however aggressively they may act.)

Honey bees, yellowjackets, and hornets—in other words, social bees with nests—are more likely to sting when defending their nests, but even they aren't interested in stinging when they're out foraging.

Exterminator ad ©Janet Allen
An ad I received in the mail. I've even see this ad wrapped around a whole bus, creating a fear of bees!

Sadly, though, we've seen many people's first reaction when they see a bee is to reach for the insecticide or a shoe. Apparently they believe that getting stung by a bee is a fate worse than death.

And there's a whole profitable industry that promotes this idea.

(Of course, a few people are indeed deathly allergic to bee stings. If we were allergic to bees, we wouldn't attract them, though neither would we kill them.)

Bee covered with dew ©Janet Allen Bee covered with dew on an anise hyssop

Generally, if people do get stung, they've been stung by yellow jackets, hornets, or honey bees, but all bees in general unfairly get blamed. And most solitary wasps are not aggressive anyway.

Even with our yard increasingly full of bees I can recall getting stung only twice in the last fifteen years or so—once when I grabbed a clothespin along with the bee that was resting on the other side of it and once when I was out in the early morning with my long bathrobe, which gathered up a bee in its folds. Ouch!

All in all, it's been amazing how easy and enjoyable it is to live with the company of our native bees and wasps.