Volunteers with Southern Arizona Rescue Association heard Friday night from retired U of A entomologist Carl Olson about how bees behave so that they can avoid problems on the trails and in the mountains this summer.
Olson told them that while many people worry at the sight of swarms, those bees are slower and on the move. He said that the real concern is when bees are spotted entering and exiting a hive or a hole. Those bees will protect their colony.
Olson said that the first few bees will only hit a person as a warning. That's the signal to turn and run or walk away quickly. The person should cover their face and head because the bees will aim for the easiest, most sensitive area. If the person is stung, that will alert more bees to the location and they will follow to protect the colony.
"So the bees give you that signal, and you take the signal and leave. And they'll go back to the hive, no big deal. But if you don't and the next bees come out, they're going to go for your head because that's the place that they can get to quickly," Carl Olson said.
"They're upsetting the colony, they're in its territory, and the bees are just trying to get them out of the area," said SARA volunteer Mike Jennings. "Typically, what we're seeing is climbers."
SARA recommends climbers to check the areas they're climbing for hives or holes; or any sights or sounds of bees.
When fleeing bees, seek a car or house or other enclosed shelter. Do not jump in water because they will wait for you to come up for air.
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