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I can happily wander around my hives, up close with almost never an attack. Any attack seems to come from when a returning forager gets stuck in my hair. It is not that visitors are attacked often, but they are more likely to be stung.
Why?
I understand that walking slowly, not flapping around, not over-reacting etc all make a big difference, but from what I observe my own children are relaxed etc but get a few more stings.

I thought it might be beesuit related but experimented without it. I can happily sit right in front of a hive, read the newspaper etc and be free from stings for hours, even falling asleep!

Is it my own "scent" sufficiently goshawful that that is all it takes to repel them? Or are the bees able to recognize me in some way?

tl;dr - If I sit quietly next to a busy hive and next to my son and we both are calm, they ignore me but sting him occasionally.
 

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I really don't think bees have any idea that you are even slightly associated with them. They do everything by instinct and you are not there long enough for them to learn who you are. As a beekeeper, you quickly learn how to remain calm with them. As Oldtimer states, your body language is a big part. If they knew you were their "keeper" nobody would need gloves, bee suits or veils.

One thing I am sure of, If some giant kept ripping the roof off of my house to see what was going on, I would attack him too. Just like my bees try to do.
 

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Who knows for sure ... ?

Bees live in an entirely different world to us. They have antennae sticking out of their heads (which they appear to use continuously) containing thousands of sensory cells - the purpose of the vast majority of which are completely unknown to us. Bees can sense single molecules of an aromatic substance - several orders of magnitude more sensitive than the very best tracker dog.

Their bodies are covered from head to toe with hairs (including the corneas of their eyes) which are thought to be sensitive to electro-static potentials within the near-earth atmosphere which we are completely oblivious to.

... and yet with typical arrogance many humans think we have some understanding of the world which the honeybee inhabits. :)
LJ
 

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How do bees know "their" beekeeper?
They don't. They know their environment and their colony. At a basic level, they're not much unlike us.
 

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I saw a study by some university in Australia where it was claimed that bees were able to recognize persons faces, this was read about 7 or 8 years ago.
 

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I suspect it is more that some people smell different than others and you may smell enough different than the rest of your family that you are not as interesting to the bees.

Another idea for comparison is that mesquito's prefer some people more than others. The mesquito's are looking for food and not their "owner" but they are still insects. I dont get attacked by mesquito's to bad but my wife gets eaten alive.
 

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I think it has to do with stress levels. You are comfortable, confident. Visitors are typically uneasy, or nervous. Respiration rates change, gas concentrations in breath make minor shifts. Who knows what they're picking up on.
 

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I saw a study by some university in Australia where it was claimed that bees were able to recognize persons faces, this was read about 7 or 8 years ago.
The fact that they recognize me but still try to sting me every single time isn't making me feel any better about it.
 

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They don't live long enough to know who you are.
They are not an advanced life form on earth, just insects.
If my bees knew who I am, they would sting me more often.
 
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