Runner vs. Nature: Sting Like a Bee

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Run! Bee!

Why do our pollinators have to hurt?! (image: Bee removal source)

I’m not sure who struck first, but I have a contentious relationship with bees. Generally, we try to avoid each other, but sometimes things get ugly. I suppose we have some overlapping interests: sweet things, summer, and parks. I’m not sure where everything got out of hand, but I’m prepared to call a truce.

Apparently bees are dying at alarming rates and that I should be concerned. I do like to eat many things that require bees’ pollination, but why must they pull a kamikaze on me once or twice a year? I suppose a few bee stings is a small price to pay given my yearly nectarine intake. Since I’m not allergic, my angst may be a touch over-dramatic. Still, I’d prefer to avoid the hours of pain followed by days of itching that the stings induce. Apparently, there are 10 things that I (we) can do to avoid this fate:

  1. Don’t wear perfume or cologne. I find it very hard to imagine that I could ever be accused of smelling like a flower on a run.
  2. Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing, especially floral prints. The running apparel trends of late are not helping me avoid bright clothing and this doesn’t look to change soon. Fortunately my closet is lacking floral prints though.
  3. Be careful what you eat outdoors, sugary foods attract bees and wasps. My short easy runs are pretty safe but those gels and electrolyte drinks may be making my long runs and track workouts dangerous, especially when I spill all over myself.
  4. Don’t run barefoot. My feet are safe here, sorry Born to Run fans.
  5. Try not to wear loose-fitting clothes (bees may accidentally end up mixed in the fabric). There’s not a lot of bee-trapping fabric in my life.
  6. Stay Still. That one may be a problem while running.
  7. Keep your car windows rolled up. I am a proponent for air conditioning but if my car was parked in the sun and I just finished a run… the windows are down while the AC catches up.
  8. Cover your trash. My aforementioned fondness for post-run air conditioning makes this mostly a non-issue when running from home. But, for the record, the trash is covered.
  9. Don’t hang out in the flower garden. Well, technically none of my current runs specifically include flower gardens, but I would certainly be kidding myself to think that my typical routes are devoid of flowering plants. Citrus trees and California Poppies are two prolific potential points of conflict.
  10. Call a professional to have unwanted bees, wasps, or hornets removed. Probably does not apply to the whole of Montana De Oro State Park.

With only 4 out of 10 of these recommendations accomplished, it looks like I have some work to do if I am ever going to fully mitigate my bee-sting risk. Considering a reported 1/3 of our food and 8 to 12 billion dollars worth of economic value depend bees, I should probably work to change my habits rather than wish ill upon bees (with one notable exception, Africanized bees are definitely worthy of our disdain.)

If you or people in your group are allergic or unsure, following the advice from this list a long with having an EpiPen available in emergency is important whenever participating in outdoor activities. Hopefully soon, bees will no longer be in the news for their decline and we can all enjoy the summer without conflict.

Bees running

Maybe bees aren’t so bad after all. (image: clipart)

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