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Do bees get to know their handler? I keep my bees close to buildings where I can easily inspect them as I go about farmwork. They will even land on me occasionally if I linger in their flight path. I seldom wear protective clothing when handling them and experience few stings. What do more experienced beeks say?
 

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I believe that there are some studies on bees and facial recognition, but I don't know where to find them. They live such a short time and fly only part of that time and only encounter you even less, so i don't know how or why they would identify you as what(?), a friend? If you are not threatening to their home, then they will pretty much leave you alone and tolerate your presence. Otherwise, you look like a bear to them.

That's my take on it.
 

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My bees land on me sometimes, usually after I've been sweating. I think they're after the moisture more then interested in saying "Hi". Sorry, but I don't think they're especially interested in us.
 

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Have kept bees over fifty years and have come to the conclusion that bees do indeed recognize their owner provided he/she works them when needed. Don't know if it has to do with their identifying our personal pheremones or whatever but apparently this idea has been influential to a limited degree down through the ages with quite a number of cultures. Just do a computer search with the phrase "Tell the bees" and it will become evident. In the fifties draping the apiary with black crepe paper at the death of its beekeeper was still practiced in some European countries. Interesting topic! OMTCW
 

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We have dosens even a hundred beekeepers at USF workshops. The bees figure out who will swat and who is a melittophile. An old wives tale said bees would go to the coffin of the beekeeper too. In analysis, they were getting rosin for propolis. Several bee behaviors go beyond what can be learned in a generation. That is why honeybees are a superorganism, outperforming individual traits and abilities. If you think bees recognize your pheremones or behavior, let the sceptics prove us wrong. Bees cannot scientifically do several things or we do not understand how yet.
 

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I experienced something curious the other day. I was working a hive, no protection, hands in hive. No stings.

An observer 10 feet away got stung - He had no "triggers" such as smell or dark clothing. I couldn't account for it.

I've heard that some people's natural smells can be a factor, and suspect this to be true.
 

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I do not know the answer. In away I think they do, but then once in awile one of the little devals will go out of its way to nail me or try to.
:scratch:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Interesting responses so far. Several experiences have made me wonder. Last fall I was feeding syrup on the deck railing and could have bees all land over my body while I refilled containers, yet I was never stung. Also, if the syrup was gone when I arrived in the yard bees would fly against my face when I opened the truck door, as if to beg for more. On a few occasions when another beekeeper was with me to examine hives he would be stung, but not myself. A few days ago I was checking a new hive for eggs in the top super without using smoke or wearing a suit and a beek friend who was nearby was stung but I was fine even though I was kneeling by the open hive, taking out the frames. All the animals(not insects) which I worked with through my farming lifetime developed a trust relationship with me so it would not surprise me if colonies of bees could do the same.
 

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During warm months they live 6 weeks...can they pass that bit to young bees, "Hey, dont sting him, hes the one that brings feed, but then he also dropped a hive tool yesterday and smashed benny, so your call!"...?????
 

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How long does it take for bees to fix the image and scent of their hive during orientation flights? The whole 6 to 8 weeks of their summer lives? I don't think so.

if bees might be able to detect scents that determine images based on short experience, say once every 4 weeks, I don't see why it couldn't bee that each bee, in it's short life might 'imprint' the scent/image of the specific person working the hive and relating interactions (lots of bees dying when that scent/image is present, little to no disruption when that scent/image is present, etc... ).

I think it is premature for us to dismiss their potential for using their senses to 'recognize' the beekeepers who are most present simply because they aren't people or think/interact as people do.

They may not be people or dogs or other 'higher' animals, but that doesn't automatically exclude the possibilities. It just may be their brains handle the same thing in a different way.

Big Bear
 

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During warm months they live 6 weeks...can they pass that bit to young bees, "Hey, dont sting him, hes the one that brings feed, but then he also dropped a hive tool yesterday and smashed benny, so your call!"...?????
You killed Benny. You Bas-------
 

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I also wonder how much of it may be an ability of the bees to sense fear?? This going back to the mountain of stories we have heard about a beek never getting stung while working a hive but the bees will fly across the yard to sting a friend, spouse, or neighbor. That type of behavior could be construed as the bees recognizing the beek. Don't get me wrong, I am NOT saying they don't...just throwing that out there for thought!:D
 

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LOL.....
I would absolutely love for my cat to walk up someday and say....Hey, you lazy son of a )*^$#...start buying the good food instead of this trash! Because 5 minutes after i got back from the grocery store and had a shot, we'd start talking about a whole lot more than cat food, like what does the wife really do when im at work, and??? I would also like to tell my kids that my Bees recognize me and like me!!!! Well, at least respect me, dont really care who likes me! I would love to read that dolphins and whales have been playing us for fools all these years and that Shamu said he just liked the way she tasted! The bottom line is that many of these creatures, created by the same fella who created us just dont have brains adapted for speech or even cognitive thought. They are purely in many ways instinctive. But i also do wish otherwise!
 

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I have a friend who's long dead uncle was a beekeeper when she was growing up. It sounds like he probably had all kinds of quirky little beekeeping superstitions/practices that very few if anyone would espouse today but, one of his things was, before he allowed her to help with his hives he made her sit in a chair in the midsts of his hives for 30 minutes each day for like a week so that the bees could "get used to her scent".

Now wether or not this was beneficial the bottom line is...the man felt a strong connection to his bees and he passed his respect for them onto my friend who recalls it all clearly to this day, "We can take this much honey...the rest we have to leave for the bees or they'll die".

So maybe, in this type of instance, it doesn't much matter what the truth is?
 

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I think that they do recognize their keepers probably by scent. Mine will come visit me in the yard and if I put my hand out an even half will take me up on it and land on me and visit for a while. I spend an unhealthy amount of time hanging out with the hive and watching the comings and goings. I think they know me.

This am I woke to find one on my (2nd story) bedroom window screen above my head~ that was weird. And yes, a coincidence!

Then again when I have a bad day going through the hive and crush a couple or drop the hive tool, I just think.... in 5-6 weeks none of them will remember that ! Thank goodness! :D
 

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IMHO-I feel it is the keeper that makes the difference. ie how the keeper reacts to the bees (this may be fear, contempt, or love) determins how the bees react to the keeper.

jd
 
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