Buzzing bees are a delight to watch on beautiful spring and summer days. As they travel from flower to flower, pollinating and enjoying their work, bees seem to float on the air.

In their natural environment, bees live in hives and produce lots of sweet honey. It would be hard to go from tree to tree, though, to collect all the honey that we eat and use in all sorts of recipes. Instead, some people choose to keep bees in special hives to produce honey year-round.

Who are we talking about? Beekeepers, of course! They’re the people you often see in funny-looking suits and masks. Why do they wear them? They’re one good way of preventing getting stung by bees.

Yes, beekeepers do get stung by bees. It’s only natural. If you spend as much time around bees as beekeepers do, stings are inevitable. It’s just part of the risk that goes along with the rewards of keeping bees.

How often a beekeeper gets stung depends on how many and what types of bees are being kept. It also depends on individual skill and practice. The more experienced a beekeeper becomes, the fewer stings are likely to occur.

In addition to learning what types of behavior bother the bees — and avoiding such behavior — the best protection against bee stings is to wear protective gear. This can include a veil or mask, or a protective bee suit.

Although bee stings can hurt, they tend to hurt less over time the more you get stung. This is because the body can build up a tolerance to bee venom. Some brave beekeepers actually allow themselves to be stung purposefully several times each season, so that their bodies will build up a tolerance and make any subsequent stings less painful!

Beekeepers also use other strategies to avoid stings. For example, avoid working with bees on cold, cloudy, and windy days. These conditions tend to make bees more agitated and may lead to a greater chance of being stung.

Beekeepers also often use smokers when working with bees. A little smoke around the hive helps to calm the bees and make them less active. When they’re calm and docile, bees are much less likely to sting.

74 Join the Discussion

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  1. Thoughts: I thought it was really interesting that in the video the beekeeper didn’t wear a full suit to protect himself from the bees. (Gabrielle) I didn’t realize that smoke made bees calm down. (Cristian)

    Connections: This reminds me of grandma because she is allergic to bee stings. (Andrew) This reminds me of Mother’s Day because we were outside and we spotted a bee and my mom ran away quickly because she is allergic. (Briahna)

    Predictions: We couldn’t make a prediction because there wasn’t a clue.

    • We are so glad to read your comments today, Mrs. Hess’ Class! We are proud of you and all the observations you made in today’s Wonder! Gabrielle and Cristian pointed out two cool observations about the job of a beekeeper! :)

      We learned all about allergies in Andrew and Briahna’s families, too! Bee stings are no fun, especially when you’re allergic! :)

      Here’s the clue for tomorrow, Wonder Friends: Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day may have you dancing on your tippy toes! :)

    • The story shares that bee keepers wear the bee suits to not get stung. They figured out that when bees are around smoke they are less active.

      • Great work, Shelby, you have done a super job of summarizing today’s Wonder! Beekeepers protect themselves by wearing those big suits and they have different methods for keeping the bees peaceful while they get the honey! We are so glad you’re here today, Shelby! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  2. That is cool I have seen some beekeeper places but never met one. That part about geting stung many times makes sense I will go get stong now!

    • Hey there, fball30! We are glad you learned more about what goes on behind the scenes in the beekeeper world! We think beekeepers are brave! :)

  3. That was a very interesting wonder. I really liked it a lot. It was very fun. But when the person who is reading she or he is s to every word like colors they go color s

    • We’re glad you have been WONDERing with us today, Payson! Thanks for using our new feature– the listening feature! It helps us read and listen to the Wonder, it’s a great way to let the Wonder sink in! We Wonder if you have ever been stung by a bee? :)

  4. How do you know the queen bees from the other bees? Can you get wonderopolis as an app? How can you tell the different kinds of bees apart?
    One student in our class saw a picture of a guy that had bees all over his face like a beard in the world record book. Is a wasps nest like a bees nest?

    • Hey Froggy 1! You can tell the difference between different types of bees if you are up close! Queen bees have a longer abdomen than other bees, but you can also tell the difference by the way the queen bee is treated in the colony! :)

      Wonderopolis does have an app, you can download it on your smartphone or tablet! We can Wonder wherever we go! :)

      WOW, we’re so glad our Wonder Friends are sharing cool connections to this Wonder! It sounds like the man with the bee beard is a very patient guy… and we bet he has been stung so many times he can barely feel it anymore! YIKES! Wasps and bees build similar types of structures to live in. Paper wasps create nests out of paper, or wood. They use their saliva and chew on wood fibers to create these nests. Bumblebees are often found in old mice burrows, or inside nooks and crannies of buildings. Honey bees live in honeycombs! :)

  5. This was the first video that we were able to watch the last couple of days… our school district blocked the video player. We were glad to enjoy the whole Wonder today!

    Thoughts, Connections, Questions: Erica- I didn’t know beekeepers got stung. Cassie- I didn’t know that certain types of bees have certain types of stings. Sierra- I didn’t know that if you get stung by a bee a lot you could get used to it. Savion- What is the most hurtful type of bee?

    Predictions: Erica- How do you become a ballerina? Ashleigh- How do they make ballet shoes? Jovon- Do mice bite? Samantha- What is a ballerina?
    Savion- Who has the longest feet? David- How do you become a dancer? Cassie- How many people join dance clubs? Sierra- How many ballerinas are there?

    • WOHOO, we’re glad you have been able to enjoy the Wonder completely today. We know that school districts block videos to keep us safe, but we’re glad that Wonderopolis is back in action in your classroom today, Mrs. VanDusen’s WONDERers! :)

      Erica, Cassie, Sierra, Savion, Ashleigh, Jovon, Samantha, and David: hooray for you! Your thoughts, questions, connections and predictions are SUPER! Your imaginations have been working hard today– after all it is Wonder Wednesday! :)

      Beekeepers are brave for working so closely to bees everyday, and we sure do appreciate honey even more now that we know about their jobs! There is a scientific scale for pain, known as the Schmidt Pain Index, that rates wasp stings as the worst sting of all bees. YIKES! Stay away from those wasps! :)

      We can’t wait to put on our dancin’ shoes with you tomorrow, Wonder Friends! Make sure you bring your favorite music! :)

    • @Erica – Beekeepers work among thousands and thousands of bees. One have can easily have 15 thousand bees in it, and some beekeepers work with hundreds of hives. The odds simply are that beekeepers get stung once in awhile, but they try hard to avoid it. Unlike wasps or hornets, when a bee stings someone, they die, so bees generally try not to get into a “time to die” situation.

      @Cassie, Sierra and Savion – No two bees sting exactly the same, just like no two people are exactly the same. Different people react differently to bee venom, but some are more sensitive and some are more tolerant. If stung by bees enough times (which varies from person to person), people build up a tolerance, and the sting is no worse than a mosquito bite, but it still hurts when they sting you!

      • Wow, Moz! Thank you SO MUCH for helping to answer some of the questions our Wonder Friends in Mrs. VanDusen’s Class had! We appreciate your kindness! :)

  6. Wow that’s amazing that video it was very interesting ad I did not know that bee hives could be made like houses.

  7. These were some of the things we were expecting. A student in our class keeps bees and he talked with us about the protective gear. We also had a man visit our class when we were in 4th grade and he talked about how you get used to the stings. Thanks for sharing such interesting information with our class. We learn some new words from this site each day!

    • Hey there, Mrs. Bussan’s 5th Grade! Thanks for sharing all that you have learned in the past about beekeepers and their uniforms! It’s really cool that you connected what you learned in the past to today’s Wonder! How awesome! We love learning cool new things from our Wonder Friends… YOU! :)

      Have a WONDERful Wednesday! :)

  8. Thoughts: (Chris B) Why do beekeepers collect honey? (Madison) Why do beekeepers need the protective hat? (Matt) How do bees make honey?

    Connections: (Mrs. Utter) This wonder made me remember that have chapstick made from bees wax. I also thought of the time when I gave my son and my husband honey to help their cough go away. (Chris I) This wonder made me think of the time I ate honey on fruit yum! (Faith) This wonder made me think of when I saw a large black bee. (Miss Borden) This wonder reminded me of the time we released our butterflies, because they eat pollen too.
    Predictions: The next wonder will be…..(Natalie) Why do birds get scared when you walk toward them? (Rhianna) Do cats dig? (Sydney) How do bats see in the dark?

    • Hey there, Mrs. Utter’s Kindergarten Class! What a spectacular comment full of WONDERful thoughts, connections and predictions! HOORAY for you! :)

      Chris B, Madison, Matt, Mrs. Utter, Chris I, Miss Borden, Natalie, Rhianna, and Sydney: we’ve really enjoyed what you shared today!

      Beekeepers stay safe from stinging bees by wearing protective gear while they gather honey. Honey has been around for a long time, and beekeepers have been collected honey for centuries! Bees start the process of making honey by gathering nectar from nearby flowers! We bet you can do some more WONDERing about how honey is created here: http://animal.discovery.com/insects/question300.htm :)

      We look forward to WONDERing with you again tomorrow… grab your dancin’ shoes! :)

  9. Bees are really interesting creatures. How long have they been harvest by beekeepers? I read a book about bees and they said that bees have been mysteriously disappearing. Do you have any background knowledge on that so I can learn more about it?

    • You’re right, Maya, bees are super interesting! It sounds like your on your way to becoming a bee expert, thanks to the book you read! Bees have been disappearing due to pesticides used for farming; unfortunately these pesticides have harmed some of the bees in our world. We hope you’ll continue to explore the story behind the bees, as well as how beekeepers harvest honey! So much WONDERing to do! :)

  10. We are wondering how does smoke calm down the bees? Where do all the bees come from? Why do bees make honey? Is it their food? Also, we were wondering do bees ever sleep?

    • Great questions, Mrs. Barboza’s Class! The smoke does not harm the bees, but it does calm them down a bit. The smoke prevents a bee from alerting other bees of an intruder (the beekeeper), so they are not in a defensive or protective mode.

      We hope you’ll continue to Wonder all about honeybees and where they come from. They do sleep, but it’s not for long! They prefer short little naps over a long night’s sleep. How interesting! :)

    • Thanks for visiting us today, Blakeleigh! Wonderopolis is all a-buzz thanks to our beekeeping Wonder! :) It sounds like you have a sweet tooth, Blakeleigh, especially when it comes to honey! So do we! Have a spectacular day filled with Wonder and fun! See you soon! :)

  11. ========================================================
    S-Soo M-Many B-Beeeeeeeees!!! ): I’m Glad We Have Bees To Pollinate Things And Stuff!!! :D
    ========================================================

    Wonder What’s Next???

    Tomorrow’s Wonder Of The Day May Have You Dancing On Your Tippy Toes!!!
    I don’t know Maybe It’s Ballerinas!!! (Hope Not)
    ========================================================
    Did You Know That Some Wasps Or Aliens… Some!!! :D
    ========================================================

    • Hey there, Max, what a great comment about today’s Wonder! Bees are WONDERful and we’re glad you think so, too! :)

      Tomorrow’s Wonder will have you groovin’ and we look forward to finding out what the Wonder will be! We didn’t know that aliens and bees were related… please tell us more! We love to Wonder about cool new things! :)

  12. Hi!

    Today’s Wonder of the Day was really awesome. We enjoyed learning about the exciting world of bees. Our teacher said she got stung by a bee when she tried to run away from them. Do they normally sting you if you try to run away? Some of us are allergic to bees. We are concerned about the bees dying and we want to help save them. We like their honey.

    We think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about ballet!

    PEACE OUT!
    Ms. G’s Class

    P.S. Sorry we haven’t been on lately. We’re FINALLY done with EOGs!!!!

    • Welcome back, Ms. G’s Class! We are happy to hear you’re finished with EOGs! HOORAY for you! :)

      We’ve had all kinds of experiences with bees, haven’t we? Sometimes we run, sometimes we swat, and sometimes we get stung! Yikes! Bees sting when they feel threatened, or feel like they are defending themselves. Sometimes all it takes is standing still to get in the way of a bee, and sometimes running away doesn’t do much, either. Bees are speedy!

      We love honey, too, and we’re glad you’re thinking of ways you can help the population of bees. Perhaps you can do some WONDERing as a class to find out how to help the honeybees in danger.

      Get your dancin’ shoes ready, Wonder Friends! Tomorrow’s Wonder will have you tapping your toes! :)

    • We’re glad to hear it, Gurtej! Thanks for telling us how you felt about the Wonder video! :) Bzzz! See you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

  13. Hi Wonderopolis yesterday I thought the wonder would be about bees and I was right well sort of because the wonder was actullay about beekeepers but still close right. Almost every summer I’ve been through I have been stung one time on our light pole there was a wasp nest on it and one of our neighbors Gord got wasp spray and sprayed them with it. Did you know that wasp nests are mostly made out of human made things?

    • Hey Aidan, you did a great job of using context clues to guess today’s Wonder! Nice work! :)

      It sounds like you’ve had your fair share of encounters with bees and wasps during the summer– we’re sorry to hear you’ve been stung more than once! Yikes! However, we Wonder if the wasp nest is gone after your neighbor sprayed it?

      Thanks for sharing your very own information about wasp nests– they are creative insects, aren’t they? :)

  14. Hi Wonderopolis!

    I don’t like bees very much. Especially wasps. I don’t like any creepy crawly things, they make me shudder. I’m afraid of bugs. Even flies, and they don’t even bite and I’m scared. Spiders and bees and wasps are my biggest bug phobias. Ewww… Anyways, I think tomorrow’s Wonder is about ballet!

    – Mikayla T

    • Hi Mikayla, we are proud of you for WONDERing with us today! Even if bugs are not your favorite, we love reading your comment! We think you’re on the right track for tomorrow’s toe-tapping Wonder! :)

  15. Hi Wonderopolis,

    Today’s wonder got me stuck to it. The video was calm and it wasn’t that scary.
    Tomorrow’s wonder could be about ballet nutcracker.

    From: Isha

    • Hi Isha, thanks for visiting us today! It sounds like you enjoyed our bzzzz-ing Wonder about beekeepers! WOHOO for learning something new about the people who collect that tasty honey!

      Thanks for sharing your awesome prediction for tomorrow’s graceful Wonder! :)

    • Great Wonder question, Mrs. Foster’s Class! Beekeeper suits are made out of heavy duty material to prevent bees from stinging the beekeeper, but it can’t be too heavy to prevent the beekeeper from moving around. Sometimes the suits are made of heavy cotton, but the masks are often made out of wire to protect the face. :)

  16. Hi Wonderopolis
    I really like the song that you chose. It was calm. I really found a lot of information. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about ballet. Bye I don’t have a lot of time.

    • Thanks so much, Simranjit! We are glad you liked today’s song in the Wonder video. It was calming- what a great description! Thank you for sharing your time with us today, we had a great time WONDERing with you! :)

    • Hey there, Grace, thanks for visiting us today! What is your favorite part of today’s bzzzz-ing Wonder? We look forward to tomorrow’s Wonder– we think you’re on point! :)

  17. Hi Wonderopolis,
    Today’s wonder was very interesting. The wonder words were very interesting as well. I don’t have that much time but I’m afraid of bees but I like honey and I think that tomorrow’s wonders going to be about ballet,
    ballet recitals, or different types of ballet.

    -Mikayla R

    • Thanks for telling us how much you enjoyed today’s Wonder, Wonder Friend Mikayla! We’re proud of you for WONDERing with us even though bees make you uneasy! What do you like to put honey on… bread, in your tea, or perhaps you like to eat it by the spoonful?! We look forward to WONDERing with you tomorrow, Mikayla… your prediction is right on track! :)

    • Great work, Airyanna! We are glad you summarized all that you learned today– queen bees are protected by all the worker bees in the hive. They are very important to the colony and we’re glad you shared that with us! Nice job! :)

  18. Hi Wonderopolis I love your wonder but I do not like bees especially bumblebees. I don’t have any favorite bees cause I am not a fan of bees. I wonder why bees sting is there a reason why they sting? If I was a beekeeper I would be in some real pain cause I don’t even want to become a beekeeper cause it is a hard work. Anyways I think tomorrow’s wonder is about dancing bye!

    • Hey there Kabir, thanks for sharing your comment! Even though bumblebees aren’t your favorite, we are glad you visited us today! Bees sting to protect themselves. When they feel threatened, they can use their stingers as a way to defend themselves! Beekeeping is hard work and we’re glad we could learn all about it with you today! We can’t wait to tap our toes with you tomorrow! :)

    • You’re right, Bob, thanks for sharing your Wonder answer! Would you like to be a beekeeper when you’re older? :)

  19. We were WONDERING…..
    How many species of bees are there??

    How does the smoke keep the bees calm???

    Why do bees collect and make honey??

    Why do bees sting, does it hurt the bee???

    • WOW, we are so excited by all of Mrs. Piccioni’s Second Graders’ questions today! HOORAY for WONDERing! :)

      We hope you’ll do some WONDERing of your own about bee species, how they make honey, and what happens to bees when they use their stingers. There is so much to learn and we look forward to reading all about what you find!

      The smoke is used to calm the bees, and it doesn’t hurt them at all. The smoke prevents bees from alerting one another of an intruder (the beekeeper), so they are not in a defensive or protective mode. This keeps them from buzzing around in a frenzy, ready to sting! :)

    • Wonders are the best part of our site, Keegan, and we’re so glad you’re here today! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis! We’ve got more than 900 Wonders– you can see the Wonder number at the top of the page. We can’t wait until Wonder #1,000! :)

  20. The music on that video made us calm and happy. Have a great day Wonderopolis! Thanks for sharing that with us!

    • What a great way to Wonder, KF Dragons! It sounds like you did a great job focusing on today’s Wonder thanks to the calming music in today’s video! Thanks for stopping by to say hello, we’re glad you’re here! :)

    • Hey there, Ms. H’s Class, thanks for sharing your comment! We hope you learned a lot about the beekeeper’s responsibilities… and we hope you didn’t get stung! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! :)

  21. Hey wonder friend thanks for sharing this wonder it was exciting. Can’t believe beekeepers keep bees! It’s crazy because they don’t get stung. I think tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about ballet :)

    love Eu’nique

    • Hey there, Eu’nique, thank you for sharing your comment! We are glad we learned all about the different things beekeepers do in order to collect honey! They are brave people– beekeeping is hard work! We look forward to dancing while we Wonder tomorrow! See you then! :)

  22. I have a wonder. “Why is the keyboard set up like QWERTYUIOPASDFGHJKLZXCVBNM and not the ABC’S?” That is my wonder.

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do beekeepers ever get stung?
  • How do beekeepers prevent bee stings?
  • What should you do if you get stung by a bee?

Wonder Gallery

Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Didn’t you think today’s Wonder of the Day was bee-utiful? We did! Keep the buzz going by checking out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Bees come in many different shapes and sizes. To better appreciate the variety of bees in the world, head over to the Internet to explore the Bee Photo Gallery. Which of these bees look familiar? Perhaps you have some of them in your backyard or neighborhood. Keep an eye out for bees and check them out from a safe distance when you get a chance.
  • Did you realize what a major role bees play in our food supply? So many of the plants that we and many other animals rely upon depend upon bees for pollination. If the bees don’t do their buzzing, plants don’t get pollinated and our food chain is interrupted. Is this a concern? It could be! Watch Vanishing of the Bees to learn more about the danger that some bee species face in today’s world.
  • Have you ever gotten stung by a bee? If so, you know it can be painful. But it happens from time to time. Do you know how to treat a bee sting? Here are some things you can do to take away some of the pain from a sting:
    • If a stinger is stuck in your skin, get an adult to help you remove it. Getting the stinger out as soon as possible will reduce the amount of venom that gets inside your body.
    • Wash the area with soap and water and then put an ice pack over the affected area to reduce swelling.
    • If pain is a problem, ask an adult for an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
    • If swelling is a problem, an adult can also give you an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine.
    • To reduce itching and pain, you might also want to try an over-the-counter topical cream that contains hydrocortisone or lidocaine.

Of course, if you have a particularly bad allergic reaction to a bee sting, you need to get an adult to help you get professional help immediately. Some people have life-threatening allergic reactions to bee stings, so it’s important to take them seriously!

Still Wondering

Science NetLinks’ Dances with Bees activity helps kids learn about how bees communicate.

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Wonder What’s Next?

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