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View Full Version : Wasp, bees won't sting if you hold your breath


aceplace57
06-28-2011, 05:07 AM
My grandmother told me this when I was a kid. Hold your breath and a curious wasp or bee won't sting. Closes your pores and they can't sting you.

Also, you tend to stand still when holding your breath. :D

This only applies to a single bee or wasp buzzing around you. Not a whole nest or hive that you've disturbed and pissed off.

A quick google shows other people's grandmothers told them the same thing.

Any truth in this??

FWIW I've practiced this all my life and haven't been stung since I was 9. I think it has more to do with standing still. But the legend is your pores close when you hold your breath.

Blake
06-28-2011, 05:11 AM
Any truth in this??

None whatsoever.

FWIW I've practiced this all my life and haven't been stung since I was 9.


I haven't practiced it, and I have not been stung by a bee for over 20 years.

Which proves what we all knew: kids are far more likely to be stung by bees than adults are.

mac_bolan00
06-28-2011, 05:55 AM
i think the real question here is whether or not one's pores close when holding one's breath, and if bees desist once they do.

Blake
06-28-2011, 06:22 AM
i think the real question here is whether or not one's pores close when holding one's breath

They don't.

and if bees desist once they do.

They don't.

njtt
06-28-2011, 06:37 AM
The standing still probably helps, however, and holding your breath probably does indeed make you more likely to keep still.

mac_bolan00
06-28-2011, 06:38 AM
what i know is that bees bite defensively if disturbed (most die if they do.) i've been stung because i almost quashed one among the bushes or disturbed the nest. in all cases, there was some form of incursion in my part. i don't get stung when walking past bee houses minding my own business, or when standing still and there's a swarm above me (experienced this only once in deep jungle.)

Alka Seltzer
06-28-2011, 06:40 AM
My grandmother told me this when I was a kid. Hold your breath and a curious wasp or bee won't sting.

Well, a curious bee or wasp almost certainly won't sting you anyway. Most stings occur either close to the nest, or due to accidental contact.

However, there may be some truth in this, beekeepers report that defensive bees are attracted to the face. It's possible the bees are following a trail of carbon dioxide, other insects such as mosquitos do this. Holding your breath when close to a hive or after swatting at a bee or wasp may actually reduce your chances of being stung.

Blake
06-28-2011, 06:56 AM
what i know is that bees bite defensively if disturbed (most die if they do.)

Nonsense. Stingless bees may bite, but they don't die when they do so. Bees with stings don't bite defensively, they sting.


i don't get stung when ... standing still and there's a swarm above me

When bees are swarming, their sting behavior is heavily inhibited. You really need to make an effort to get a member of a swarm to sting you. This is why people can wear swarms as suits with minimal risk.

BowlOfDucks
06-28-2011, 06:58 AM
Many insects home in on carbon dioxide. If you stop breathing out, they'll stop homing in on you carbon dioxide.

Works very well against crane flies.
Works fairly well against bees and wasps
Works slightly against moths
And doesn't work at all against flies

Though I wouldn't stay still. I'd walk away from my carbon dioxide cloud. Though if there's wind, it probably isn't necessary.

don't ask
06-28-2011, 07:00 AM
The American Bee-keepers Manual (1850) (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=O05JAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA249&dq=hold+breath+bees&hl=en&ei=DbIJTrqCAqvomAWgzIHIAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false) p249:

There is a class of persons who are seldom stung by bees, when other people, placed in the same situation, would not escape without paying dearly for their temerity. The reason of bees showing this partiality, is merely to the odor of different people's breath. Bees are very quick to take offence when approached by a person whose breathe is unpleasant to them.

In consequence of the breath being offensive, it is best to suppress respiration as much as possible, when holding the head directly over them, or when the breath would be likely to be scented by them.

mac_bolan00
06-28-2011, 07:03 AM
Nonsense. Stingless bees may bite, but they don't die when they do so. Bees with stings don't bite defensively, they sting.
i meant sting. most die when they do but some wasps have reusable stings (those fierce wasps in japan that attack regular beehives.)

mozchron
06-28-2011, 07:17 AM
nm

DrFidelius
06-28-2011, 07:19 AM
i meant sting. most die when they do but some wasps have reusable stings (those fierce wasps in japan that attack regular beehives.)

Bees have barbed stingers which stay in the victim. Bees eat pollen and nectar and their stings are for the defense of the hive, so it does not matter if an individual dies after stinging.

Wasps and hornets have smooth stingers. They are predators who use their venom to immobilize prey. They survive after stinging because they as individuals expect to use their stingers often.

I was attacked by an entire hive of yellow jackets when I was five. Couldn't walk for a week, and I am told that I am now likely to die if such a thing is repeated. Haven't been stung by a bee or a wasp in over forty years.

Blake
06-28-2011, 07:22 AM
i meant sting. most die when they do

No, they do not. The Apis bees are exceptional in that stinging is usually fatal.

but some wasps have reusable stings (those fierce wasps in japan that attack regular beehives.)

To the best of my knowledge all wasps and hornets have reusable stings. Certainly the vast majority do, as do the vast majority of bees.

So saying that most bees die when they sting and some wasp do not is just plain wrong. Most bees do not die when they sting and most wasps, probably all, have reusable stings.

Martiju
06-28-2011, 07:26 AM
Haven't been stung by a bee or a wasp in over forty years.

So to address the OP, you've held your breath for over 40 years then...?

:eek:

xoferew
06-28-2011, 07:39 AM
Many insects home in on carbon dioxide. If you stop breathing out, they'll stop homing in on you carbon dioxide.

Works very well against crane flies.
Works fairly well against bees and wasps
Works slightly against moths
And doesn't work at all against flies

Wait wait wait wait! As someone who hates and fears and loathes moths... I thought at least their horrific attacks on me were accidental. You're saying they are actually homing in on me?! As directed by some biological instinct?! WHY?!!?! Or are there certain vicious moth species I have yet to encounter and most species aren't actually trying to fly INTO MY NOSE AND MOUTH?!

(I hate butterflies, too.)

Blake
06-28-2011, 08:01 AM
Or are there certain vicious moth species I have yet to encounter

Heh (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_nJLGJOxc1is/TPViZLaey5I/AAAAAAAAADY/9vl5ESU0thM/s1600/Calyptra+thalictri.jpeg)

Jackmannii
06-28-2011, 08:20 AM
Bees are very quick to take offence when approached by a person whose breathe is unpleasant to them.I think this is an old wasp's tale.

clairobscur
06-28-2011, 09:06 AM
FWIW I've practiced this all my life and haven't been stung since I was 9. I think it has more to do with standing still..

I never practiced it, I'm 46, and I've been stung only once, when I was a teen, by a bee smashed into the car I was a passenger of. And I spent quite a lot of time in the countryside.

So, your experience isn't really an evidence of anything.

dracoi
06-28-2011, 01:25 PM
The cite from the beekeeper guide is very interesting, and I'd love to see if there's any research on that more recently than 1850. I have a hard time believing that bees would care about how your breath smells.

Overall, I think holding your breath is not so important, but holding still - or at least moving slowly and calmly - is key. Both wasps and bees only sting humans because they feel threatened in some way. As long as you're non-threatening, they see you as part of the landscape and not worthy of their attention.

I've frequently been a camp counselor for kids events and you can count on yellow jackets showing up to each meal. I tell every kid at the beginning of camp "If you start freaking out and waving your hands around, I'll sting you even if the wasp doesn't." I haven't had to carry out that threat yet - they see pretty quickly how holding still and remaining calm works.

kanicbird
06-28-2011, 01:40 PM
There may be some truth as some insects detect exhaled CO2 to perceive animals.

That said I've seen a primitive way of collecting honey where the person would blow into the hive to calm them. Yes he got stung but only 3 times or so while extracting a honeycomb.

EdwardLost
06-28-2011, 03:33 PM
That said I've seen a primitive way of collecting honey where the person would blow into the hive to calm them.

Was that person, by chance, smoking?

simster
06-28-2011, 03:45 PM
Heh (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_nJLGJOxc1is/TPViZLaey5I/AAAAAAAAADY/9vl5ESU0thM/s1600/Calyptra+thalictri.jpeg)

That really needs the two click rule dude - <shudder>

xoferew
06-28-2011, 04:12 PM
Heh (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_nJLGJOxc1is/TPViZLaey5I/AAAAAAAAADY/9vl5ESU0thM/s1600/Calyptra+thalictri.jpeg)

Oh that's just great. :(

Don't bees seek out sweet-smelling flowers to gather nectar from? Isn't that why they smell sweet in the first place? So maybe I can breathe coffee breath or minty toothpaste breath around bees, but not Twix breath?

purplehorseshoe
06-28-2011, 04:37 PM
...As someone who hates and fears and loathes moths... (I hate butterflies, too.)

I have little to add to this discussion except: wow. Just when you think you've seen every variant that humanity has to offer. First time I've ever heard someone express this sentiment.

Contrapuntal
06-28-2011, 04:39 PM
They don't.Even with a bees and desist order?

simster
06-28-2011, 04:44 PM
Even with a bees and desist order?

Wasp yourself, they'll put you in a yellow jacket.

xoferew
06-28-2011, 04:47 PM
I have little to add to this discussion except: wow. Just when you think you've seen every variant that humanity has to offer. First time I've ever heard someone express this sentiment.

Because 1. Butterflies are REALLY HUGE insects. and 2. Those giant, super-thin wings. I have a mild revulsion for anything that takes up a relatively large amount of space while made of a small amount of material. Daddy long legs are the worst, and also weather balloons. Creeps me out for some reason.

mlees
06-28-2011, 04:50 PM
The standing still probably helps, however, and holding your breath probably does indeed make you more likely to keep still.

If you have already made them made, standing still just makes you an easier target.

xoferew
06-28-2011, 04:55 PM
If you have already made them made, standing still just makes you an easier target.

Especially when everyone else at the school/camp/picnic is still flailing and screaming.

mlees
06-28-2011, 04:57 PM
If you have already made them made, standing still just makes you an easier target.

*mad :smack: Made them mad.

Alka Seltzer
06-28-2011, 05:17 PM
I have a mild revulsion for anything that takes up a relatively large amount of space while made of a small amount of material.

I thought of telling you that the universe is mostly empty space, but decided that would be cruel.

Daddy long legs are the worst, and also weather balloons.

Actually, I'm with you on the daddy long legs. Weather balloons look odd because they expand up to a hundred times their original volume as they reach altitude, due to the lower pressure.

Animastryfe
06-28-2011, 08:33 PM
Do barbed stingers do more damage than smooth stingers?

Mahaloth
06-28-2011, 10:10 PM
i meant sting. most die when they do but some wasps have reusable stings (those fierce wasps in japan that attack regular beehives.)

Some wasps? I thought all wasps have smooth, reusable stingers.

Blublast3@live.com
06-28-2011, 11:24 PM
My moms bf walkin to work totally unaware of the bees swarming in his path, walked into them. He figured if he ran theyd chase him so he jus held his breath and walked away without a single sting. his coworker was shocked as hell and had his phone already out to call 911.

Bees wont sting you if you hold your breath, walk slowly, and dont swat. do ALL of these things though since any of them can trigger a attack. Peopld say "Oh i havent been stung by bees in decades", probably cuz YOUR NEVER AROUND THEM!! so quit yappin at the mouth lol. Seriously tho do those things and you may not be stung, remember any outside force can still make them go crazy, even if you didnt provoke it. A scared bee is just as bad as an angry one.

All of this applies to swarms as well.

Blublast3@live.com
06-28-2011, 11:46 PM
Oops. This doesnt apply to swarms attacking you. If more than a few are after you, you better run. If you can swim hop into a lake for bout 30secs and then come up for a breath. If theres no water you better find your butt into a building, dont go for cars unless you can start it and drive off. A few may get if but its better than hundreds. Bees are no threat once they stung you, they soon die. yes, all bees! Not wasp or yellurs. Oh and for killer bees, jus dont ever find yourself by them. Those human made hybrids arent such a happy group and will attack and chase you up for a few blocks or more for the hell of it