25

I drink canned beverages when I'm gardening and camping.

I know several people who have ended up in the hospital due to swallowing bees that were stuck in their beverage (stung in the mouth).

How do I keep bees out of canned beverages, without sacrificing much convenience?

  • 6
    Not an answer but a straw would help. – Jasper Apr 22 at 20:14
  • 30
    A minor point: bees are uninterested in sweet beverages, they like flowers. What you have is probably wasps. Doesn't make much of a difference for your question except possibly that wasps are more likely to sting than bees. – Odalrick Apr 23 at 9:53
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    @topshot They must have huge straws or tiny bees where you're from... how do you suck a bee through a straw, much less without noticing it? – Nuclear Wang Apr 23 at 14:40
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    Aside from being opaque for you, an opened soda can may end up being a drowning trap for the bug, and that may make him very stressed and angry. How about not drinking sugared beverages while gardening? Water, unsweetened or artificially sweetened iced tea, etc... – Harper Apr 23 at 14:59
  • 4
    Drink water instead. Bonus: it's better for you. Kill two birds with one stone. After a few months, you won't miss whatever you were drinking before. Promise. – only_pro Apr 23 at 15:28
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Don't open the can far enough for a bee to get in

I have a freind who drinks from soda cans by only opening them a little bit. I find it quite weird, but having tried it it doesn't really make a lot of difference.

When you "pull the tab" or ringpull, just do it a little so the soda can come out, but the bees cannot get in.

You can open them to various degrees, here is a picture of a half opened can to show what I mean enter image description here

As an example of the mechanics:

Pull the tab gently until the gas escapes, and you have a hairline opening either side of the tab. At that point, you can tilt the can up and suck, and you'll get a reasonable amount out. I've done this frequently when I'm worried about the can falling over and spilling.

Quote from user StevenLowes originally in comments below.

  • 4
    Nice idea in principle, but I've seen hungry wasps creep into tiny confines -- definitively smaller ones than on the picture. – henning Apr 23 at 13:53
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    Repost: I've drunk out of soda cans that have inperceptible openings... although you do kinda have to suck on it like a teat at that point.... – GPPK Apr 23 at 13:54
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    @henning True, but if a hungry wasp was to get into the can, if you only open it a crack, this trick might also reduce the likelihood of that angry wasp ending up in your mouth – user568458 Apr 23 at 15:01
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    To slightly elaborate on what GPPK said, pull the tab gently until the gas escapes, and you have a hairline opening either side of the tab. At that point, you can tilt the can up and suck, and you'll get a reasonable amount out. I've done this frequently when I'm worried about the can falling over and spilling. – Steven Lowes Apr 24 at 15:36
  • @StevenLowes That's a perfect description of the bit I didn't write, can you edit it into the answer? – GPPK Apr 24 at 15:37
22

You vill have to sacrifice some convenience. I suggest inverting a wide-mouthed plastic cup as a barrier over the can. Remove the cup when you want to drink, drink from the can, and then immediately replace the cup. Eventually you will drop or knock over the cup. Wipe with the cleanest thing you have available and replace. A little dirt won't harm you. Cheers!

  • 9
    "You vill have to sacrifice some convenience." - anybody else getting a Dr. Strangelove vibe here? :D – R. Schmitz Apr 23 at 9:13
  • Re the vibe: When I wrote this answer, I had just read a review of the latest (and sadly the last) Bernie Gunther novel, and WWII was on my mind. – ab2 Apr 23 at 13:25
12

I can think of a few solutions:

  1. Stretch a square of mosquito netting over the mouth of the can, with a rubber band to secure it in place.
  2. Buy and use a soda can lid.
  3. Switch to 2L bottled soda and use auto-sealing bottles.
  • 3
    You can get smaller neater soda can lids too - used them before and they're pretty decent, reusable, and in some cases where it is solid you can just turn the bit you open the can with back over the hole. – Aravona Apr 23 at 7:56
12

When I was a kid, we had like plastic lids that fit over the top of pop cans, designed to keep out the yellowjackets (wasps that like your sweet beverage). You opened a hinged trap over the can's opening to drink the product. I couldn't find the exact one, but it was similar to this: (Can Covers) Can Covers on pop cans

10

My Dad drinks canned beverages regularly while working outside, and his go-to solution for keeping wasps/hornets/etc out of the cans is a small disk or square of 1/2" plywood about 4" square (or diameter) placed on top of the can. If there is a gap caused by the tab sticking up a bit then he will remove the tab, but usually the weight of the piece of plywood will press it down. It works, and it is cheap/free if you have some wood scraps laying around.

He has been using this solution for the last 20+ years and in fact has been using the same circular piece for as long as I have re-callable memory. He even uses them when not outside now, for the 'just in case' factor (and probably out of habit). He started doing this because somebody he knew accidentally swallowed a bee, was stung in the throat and unfortunately did not survive.

9

This happened to me, but with a brick of pineapple juice instead of a soda can. Lucky for me, I'm not allergic to anything, but I still had to get a methylprednisolone shot just to deal with the inflammation of my tongue.

In my experience, wasps will bother you if you have sweet drinks anywhere near you, no matter what you do. Even if you keep every bottle and can capped, when you drink or move them around, small micro-drops will fall here and there -- enough to attract all wasps in a mile.
They will also bother you if you have food, or other drinks (sweet or not). Also if you are drinking water in a hot day.
Also if they feel like it, mostly.

I've sometimes tried to make a small puddle of juice a few steps away from where I was eating. Some call this a distraction so wasps are attracted to the puddle instead of my beverage. Some call this an offer to the Wasp Goddess hoping She will spare me of Her wrath. It doesn't matter what you call it: it doesn't work. The wasps will just call more wasps and make turns so they can drink from the puddle and keep bothering you at the same time.

My main recommendation is that you restrict yourself to drinking water (soda is bad for you anyways), and to use only capped recipients: bottles, canteens, maybe those cups with a lid and an orifice for a capped straw. If the recipient is made of a clear material that allows you to see if a wasp managed to get in, that's even better.

If that doesn't work, pack up your stuff and move somewhere else.

If that doesn't work, just remember that wasps are attracted to wasps' carcasses. Once you get one, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

  • 1
    +1 The wasps around my house were politer. I'd eat breakfast on the patio and prepare a small plate for them with jam and several pieces of egg. We ate comfortably together. Alas, they stopped building a nest under the eaves, several years ago. Now yellow jackets are a different story...... – ab2 Apr 23 at 19:29
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    "Once you get one, it's like shooting fish in a barrel." ??????? "Shooting fish in a barrel" implies a task is very easy, but that does not seem to be what you mean to say. – jpmc26 Apr 24 at 7:00
  • @jpmc26 That's exactly what I meant to say. I just don't want to be explicit about the "task", because it's not something I want to promote. – walen Apr 24 at 7:41
  • Were you admitted to hospital? – Strawberry Apr 25 at 16:29
  • @Strawberry I didn't go to the hospital but to the local clinic, because I know I'm not allergic to anything. I just needed an MD to check everything was OK and to give me something for the swelling in case she deemed it necessary. – walen Apr 25 at 21:01
8

Presuming that you have a modern can, the simplest solution I can think of is to rotate the ring-pull 180 degrees around its axis, so that the lever is over the opening (as per the image below, but without the straw). This may not be an infallible solution, but it should reduce the probability of a bee entering the can, and still allow you to drink in a relatively unhindered manner.

Soda can with the ring pull rotated 180 degrees to shield the opening

  • +1 We have been using this trick during our yearly one-week camp-out near a lake where wasps have been a huge annoyance. It doesn't look like it would work, but for us it observably does... It seems like wasps are uncomfortable to crawl through the smaller hole into the can (maybe because fast escape would be more difficult?). – fgysin Apr 24 at 5:44
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    As a warning to people attempting this, I've seen small wasps climb down plastic straws, so make sure your wasps are bigger than the straw you want to use, and check the straw the first few times to make sure it is working before potentially sucking a wasp into your mouth through the straw – Kevin Wells Apr 25 at 18:13
8

Take a pen or fork and jam/poke it at the top of the can where the tab is connected to the top of the can. See diagram below: Steps to open a coke can without bees getting in

I've done this almost my whole life, it would look like it would be hard to drink from, but it is really easy. It's kind of like drinking from a sports bottle nozzle. Also if you're feeling a bit adventurous, aim it an arms length away from your mouth and start shaking it.(or aim it at someone else)

Therefore, in conclusion, your bee problem is solved and you have a funner and cooler way of drinking soda :D

  • 1
    Are you poking a whole in the metal or is there some pin there that you're just pushing into the can? – JJJ Apr 24 at 17:14
  • You are just poking a hole, no metal or pin is going into the can. a pen tip is enough to poke a hole into the top – person personson Apr 24 at 18:07
6

I can certainly sympathise with your situation from experience — wasps especially love all kinds of sweet drinks, and will home in on them with monomaniacal persistence. I've even had them try to get in my mouth while I'm drinking from a cup, which can be a somewhat unpleasant situation.

(FWIW, the most important thing to do if there's a wasp or a bee buzzing around your face is to not panic or try to swat it, but just keep as calm as you can and gently guide the insect away, preferably while slowly moving away from any sweet-smelling things that might be attracting it. Remember, the wasp is just looking for a sugar fix — it's not (yet) actively trying to sting you, and will only do so if it feels that you're a threat to it or its nest. Granted, it can sometimes be hard to predict exactly what an insect will perceive as a threat, but flailing your arms around in panic is generally not the best idea.)

Anyway, the best proactive solution to your problem that I know of is to get a plastic bottle with a "sports cap" like this and pour your drink into it (or just buy a drink that comes in a bottle like this to begin with):

Sports bottle cap
Photo by Mikael Häggström via Wikimedia Commons, released under the CC0 public domain dedication.

The closeable cap prevents insects from getting into the bottle when you're not drinking from it. It's also designed to fit in your mouth, and even so that you can open and close it using your teeth, making sure that no bugs can sneak in while you're drinking, either. And even if a wasp or a bee somehow does make it inside, e.g. while you're pouring the drink in, the passage which the liquid flows through inside the cap is narrow enough that it probably won't get from the bottle into your mouth.

(That said, I'd still rather try to keep them out of the bottle in the first place. A transparent bottle might be the best choice here, as it'll let you visually double check the contents of the bottle before taking a drink from it.)

Also, try not to have anything near you (such as exposed food or drinks) that might attract insects with its smell. In particular, rinse out any empty cans with water if at all possible, and clean up any spilled drink. If you must have something smelly around, try to keep it somewhere as far as possible from where you are, and hope that it draws the insects there instead.

protected by Sue Apr 26 at 1:00

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