Question about Bee/Wasp vengeance

Say I stumbled into a beehive or put my foot through some sort of wasp colony, all of a sudden swarms of bee’s appear and straight away I realise I could be in trouble.

So immediately I turn and leg it. I haven’t been stung yet, it was pure instinctive flight and I’m currently running at my top speed trying to get as far away as possible.

My question is, can the bees catch me or keep up with me? And how long will they chase me for, how far away do I need to get?

Don’t need answer fast.

I know from personal experience that bees can fly faster than my tractor can go.

The Hive and the Honey Bee, the “Bible” of beekeeping, indicates that a bee’s flight speed averages about 15 miles per hour and they’re capable of flying 20 miles per hour. If they’re not carrying nectar, pollen, water or propolis (plant resin), they’ll fly much faster!Jul 17, 2013

Ground wasps aka yellow jackets can easily keep up with you, stinging you mercilessly as you run. However, they lose interest the farther behind you leave their nest. Less than a quarter mile I would say.

Keep a pond handy when you plan to step in a wasp nest, is my advice. And a breathing straw.

So if you can beat a 4-minute mile you have a fighting chance.

Note that if they dump their load, which they probably can’t do in flight, they might hit 20 MPH.

That’s the problem with external conformal nectar tanks. Wing tanks could could be easily released.

It’s not necessarily a case of whether they can keep up while you are running - they may also pursue you after you stop; if they get a few stings in, they may have marked you with pheromones identifying you as an enemy - which can get you attacked if you stop upwind, or if you move back within range. (I think it may be the case that the marking is sufficiently generic that individuals from a different colony of the same species will be triggered to attack by it)

For bees at least (TLDR version): it varies.

How far they will follow you depends on the individual bees, bees from some colonies will chase you down the road, some will give up once you’re just a few meters away. It does appear to be largely genetic, so many beekeepers will avoid breeding from those colonies prone to chasing.

Their level of aggressiveness also increases during the age of the bee (which makes sense, if you think about it; they die if they sting you, so older bees are more likely to do so than younger bees which are more valuable to the hive), so some bees which are near to death anyway will be very determined, I always think they want to go out with a blaze of glory. A lot of the bees in the hive will be recently hatched, and they won’t sting at all, regardless of what you do to them.

It also depends on the season, they’re more prone to chasing when there’s not much nectar around. If you’re lucky enough to disturb a hive that’s busy bringing in loads of nectar right now, they may just ignore you altogether. As a beekeeper, if I pick the timing right (sunny summer day, lots of nectar around) I could take the hive to bits and take honey out without getting a single bee acting aggressively. I always do wear a bee suit, but I have met old beekeepers who reckon they can read the hive well enough to go in without.

Other times, especially in autumn, when the bees are guarding against wasps which rob the stores, they start acting defensively when I’m still a few meters away. August is angry month round here, as the main nectar flow finishes but there are still lots of bees around that have been bringing in the main summer crop, then the mass of summer workers gradually die off, and come September the colony’s shrunk, and they’re all very calm again.

You can tell if they’re aggressive from the pitch they buzz at, higher pitch means they’re getting wound up, sometimes they also ‘bump’ against you before trying to sting. Jerky movements attract aggro, as do dark colours.

One of the handy tips I’ve learned is, if you’re being chased, they will rarely go under or into things- so going into a shed or a car, or even under an archway will often be enough to stop them following you.

They do release a pheromone when they sting, which attracts other bees, but the effects seem to wear off very fast. Occasionally when in my hive I’ll accidentally squish one, which releases the pheromone, and a cluster will form round the body for a few seconds, buzzing angrily, but after 20 seconds or so, they disperse it’s back to normal. Sometimes I’ve been stung and none of the others have paid any attention, it’ll trigger a guard bee to attack, but not one engaged in another activity. If there’s a lot of the pheromone, it’ll last longer, but a couple of stings won’t trigger a mass attack.

Africanised bees are apparently way more chasy and aggressive, but they’re thankfully not a thing over here.

Wasp aggro also increases through the year, but I’m not quite stupid enough to keep wasps.

Great information, thanks.

You might could run faster if you weren’t frantically trying to post on the Dope.

Okay, so waspkeeping never took off, but the concept is sound.

This is the problem with the famous Africanized honey bee. They aren’t any more toxic or painful, but they’re much, much more paranoid than ordinary honey bees. They’ll attack you at a much farther approach to the hive, and in greater numbers, and they’ll chase you much farther (over half a mile).

Ok, I think my quickest time for a mile is about 7 minutes so it seems the wasps would catch up with me. How fast is their reaction time though? Say I kick the hive then turn and sprint, will they take a few seconds to get riled up or will I be swarmed almost instantly?

The reason this question occurred to me was after a run I did last week, its hot here right now and for some reason there were swarms of midges everywhere, I kept running into them and as idle minds do I started to wonder if it was the same cloud of midges just chasing me.

Which begs the question, if I did get a head start on the bugs and I did get ahead of them by a short distance, are they able to track me? Can vengeful wasps track me down if I get a few hundred feet away and hide round a corner?

Yellow Jackets are real pricks and will chase you over the length of a football field and sometimes even farther, and each one can sting you multiple times. Once they break off pursuit, however, they’re done with you unless, of course, you are foolish enough to turn around and go straight back to their nest. LOL