Why did I get stung today?

This post began with an innocent exchange by a friend who was shocked how is tame bees could suddenly turn upon him. He was doing some relatively minor adjustments to their living accommodations, not doing extractions for his honey fix and some of his colonies got rather nasty.  I honestly did not think these nice gentle sweethearts that I’ve been playing with the last few years had it in ‘um.  They have a very long fuse, but when it burns out, they are fully capable of breaking the needle and going full scale Africanized on you. And once angered and the stinging behavior and the pheromones’ are on you, the switch gets turned on and they just dive into an all out hunt, chase and kill kamikaze suicide mode.  
I replied flippantly, don’t eat bananas before working on the hives. Or perhaps you had a new fragrance that
they did not recognize.  That Bud Lite moment.  He disagreed about the banana myth regarding beekeeping. I am not so sure!       🤣
Yes. You certainly could test that one out. Banana esters, Pineapple or citrus esters.  Oils of wintergreen or the old favorite of Beekeepers, the lovely Lemongrass. Fruits generally produce many pleasant aromas all based upon this chemistry or the breakdown into alcohols. I do know that beer generally is a no no when it comes to dealing with hives.
Citrus fragrances where often used (citronella) to repel mosquitoes. May have worked in foggers with the real chemical, but when applied to the skin all sorts of things happen and one might actually be attracting them. Use with Coconut oil and you repel them.
I think it is all about the chemistry of the body, and the female mosquito ALSO feeds upon sweet scented flowers as well as your blood. They need that protein to get the nutrients for their eggs.
So women, with their penchant for using perfumed stuff in their hair or on their skin might just make them more attractive to the bugs than we more stinky men. I cannot remember the last time someone complemented me and suggested I smell like a flower. Now when women put those fragrances on it is like double shopping time for the bugs. 
Where things get iffy and confusing is that a persons scent comes from a myriad of different chemicals produced by the body and even the bacteria that live on and in us.  What we eat, digest and excrete through our largest organ. The skin!
All I can say that in all the camping trips I took with my girls they simply were the more attractive draw. I tended to remain unscathed.
Now wearing old sweaty woolens was never a good idea when working a bee hive either. Clean white cotton always seemed to be a good idea and even the color of your clothes makes a difference when working with bees.

Wearing a yellowjacket combination of yellow and black would never be a high recommend.

(C) Herb Senft 2023

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