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Do bees recognise hive owners

Hi All, this is probably a silly question but if I don’t ask I won’t know
I normally, on sunny days, sit near the hives about 3 metres away and watch the bees coming and going.
It seems that around midday there is a lot of orientating flights, they are fascinating to watch.
During the last couple of days I have been standing in front of the hives, about 2.5 metres away, directly in their flight path.
Each time several bees have come right up to me, buzzed around me a couple of times and then flown away on their business.
They did not sting me or landed on me but a couple came very close to landing on my sleeve.
So I was just wondering, do bees actually recognise the bee hive owner and feel that there is nothing to fear ?
I know that if I stir them up too much during frame inspections they will sting me.
But if I take it slowly and steady they will tolerate me without stinging.
Just interested what other people think
Cheers, G

No, not in my experience. If you go out there with a new aftershave, or wearing black and red, or during a severe nectar dearth, they will attack. You have just had a good experience so far. Long may that continue! :blush:


Thanks Dawn, I probably have just been lucky whilst they were in a good mood.
I won’t test my luck any further.
Cheers, G

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Hi George, I always find it charming when a bee lands on my sleeve, grooms herself for a few seconds and then flies off. I have read that bees can recognize faces, but can’t recall if ‘recognition’ is to distinguish one from another or just to know the best spot to aim a sting if necessary :laughing:

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For what it is worth George in my opinion bee do have a memory lasting about a week for what is important to them. It seems they can visually recognize a person and their scent over that time. They don’t see us as a friend or foe but more someone to tolerate with little concern based on your last visit if it was recent and it went well, but someone to attack if they had a bad time of it. Further back in time your a total stranger.
A few puffs of smoke, leave the hive for a few minutes and then working slow and smooth and most times any hive work will go well. I recently went to my apiary to mow the grass, almost instantly every hive had bees wanting a piece of me so much I had to give it a miss, a few hours later a thunderstorm hit, but there was no sign of it when I went to the apiary. Next day I returned and had no trouble with the bees at all.

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@Peter48 @Eva @Dawn_SD
Thanks for your thoughts, at the end of the day I will just play safe and come prepared with protective gear when doing a hive inspection.
On some of the YouTube videos I see people in shorts, short sleeves, no head veil or gloves doing frame inspections, and just pushing the bees aside with bare hands, to get a grip on the frame.
That prompted me to ask the question.
Cheers, G


In Summer with high humidity and temps I always suit up minus the gloves, I only wear them if the bees are really hot to handle or a night move of hives. By the time I have smoked a hive or two I’m sweating up even with a mesh suit on and I have a good idea on how the bees are behaving, so I often strip down to a T shirt and shorts but always have a veil on to protect from a facial sting. I’m ok with an odd sting on the hands and rarely get stung on the legs or arms. At this time of year, heading into Winter and around 25C wearing a suit is still hot but bearable with the ever present humidity. Every two hours I take a break and re-hydrate.
Play it safe, that way you will work slower and calmer and so less hassles from the bees.
Cheers George

Hi Peter, I know what you mean, it gets very hot here during the summer and I don’t like to put on a full suit.
I’m going to look around for just the jacket and head protection. The full suit is too hard to get on when you are already sweating.
Cheers, G

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Flow do a jacket/veil but have a look on EBay as well. Dehydration and heat stroke can hit you faster than a freight train so quickly. Especially when there is a low humidity.
In Summer I wear a bandana that has water gel crystals sewn into it around my neck, that is a life saver. Days of over 90% humidity and 100C and wearing a mesh suit that doesn’t allow any air flow makes bee keeping hard. Funny, you can see thru a mesh suit but no air flow.
Cheers George

Bees recognize human faces using feature configuration


February 8, 2010


Journal of Experimental Biology


Bees can be trained to recognize human faces, so long as the insects are tricked into thinking that the faces are oddly shaped flowers, new research shows. The insects use the arrangement of facial features to recognize and distinguish one face from another.

I’ve been using an OzArmour jacket for almost two years and much prefer it to a full suit.

Hi Adam,
That is interesting but I won’t rely on that for bee stings
Thanks for the info regarding bee jacket.
Cheers, G