Due to some peculiar health issues, for the time being I cannot study around people. I've found a secluded place in my college, it's outdoors, no one goes there and still catches wi-fi.

However, bees/wasps keep flying by me. I've read somewhere that when a bee flies by, or around you, it is a sign of aggression. And they've been doing it rather frequently.

This is worrisome, because I am likely allergic to bee stings, since my mother, unfortunately, recently found that she is allergic.

Furthermore, I cannot control my jerky movements when I hear them because of a phobia, which as far as I understand, only angers them further.

I feel like I'm eventually going to get hurt, but I am stuck with this solution of studying outdoors.

Any tips on how to coexist with them? Perhaps there is some way to encourage them to have some sense of personal space?


My current measures to avoid disturbing them are: wearing solid white shirt and keeping myself in high ground using the nearby emergency stairs. I still have to cross a field to get there, so I am careful as to not step on one of the little guys.

In the coming days I will look towards meeting my doctor about the mentioned epi-pen. Unfortunately I don't have much time, since the exams are in a few days, but after that I'll be sure to consult a medical professional about it.

Thank you for your responses, they are helpful.

  • Quick question? You don't vape do you? My friends do and we never get wasps in our garden but when they visited and vaped their fruity vapes we had loads - apparently the sweet smells are attractive.
    – Aravona
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 8:08
  • 1
    I smoke cigars. I keep the cigar butts in a plastic bottle that I hide in my bag(since it's blue). Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 8:21
  • Cigars won’t aggress bees, regarding colors, as a beekeeper and other beekeepers will likely agree, wear blue or a mid range green. Two thing that never attacked bees are the sky (blue) and plants (green). White, the color of clouds also seems like it would make sense however white is the most likely to interact with ultraviolet light due to modern laundry detergent. UV Attracts bees looking for flowers to feed from. They be draw to your shirt, then they’ll see the color transition from the bright white and your skin and will go for those transition spots looking for how to get in.
    – Escoce
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 3:42

2 Answers 2


There are a few things that could be contributing to the presence of bees and/or wasps and things that mimic them as they all have different behaviours and different means to get rid of/deter. Note that if you are allergic to bees, you probably aren't allergic to wasps as they are completely unrelated. The answer also depends on where in the world you are.

First off - are you able to tell which is which?

  • Bees are fuzzy and typically yellow/black in less obvious stripes with not so brilliant colors, and a not-so-obvious waist. There are only a couple of types of bee (honey and bumble) in most Western urban areas. Bumblebees are large and quite obvious, slow flying, very hairy and (mostly) harmless. Honey bees fly faster and are the typical bee shape and appearance.

  • Wasps tend to have very defined stripes, bright colors a very narrow waist (like an ant, which they are related to) and are largely hairless. Wasps come in a range of different species, with different "risk" profiles. The classic yellow and black wasp is could be a hornet or a Vespula species, such as the German, common wasp, or yellow jacket. Other colored wasps could be paper wasps (tend to have long hanging legs when flying), and a bunch of other species, which are less common or wide-spread.

  • There are also mimics - these are completely harmless and just look like bees/wasps to scare off predators. They are actually a type of hoverfly and will not harm you. They are easiest to tell when not flying - their wings will stick out to the side and the head is a fly head, quite different to a bee.

There is a comparison table here, with good images of each and some basic information

For all 3 types of insect, it is best just to let them do their thing, if you can not avoid them. Waving arms around does not scare them off, and may provoke defensive behaviour in wasps.

Bees and bumblebees are typically harmless unless provoked (i.e. crushed) or you are near their hive. If you are near the hive (less than say 30 m/100 ft) then occasionally you might get chased by a guard bee, but this is relatively rare. A bee might fly by close to you if you are wearing bright colors, particularly shades of blue, or have a sweet scented perfume. They will not typically hang around and search you intensively as they are primarily looking for nectar.

Bee hives can be difficult to locate - they are often in hollow trunks of trees or inside walls, rarely outside, if you are seeing a lot of bees, you are probably near the hive or a reliable food source (flowers).

Wasps on the other hand are searching for prey and nectar. They have issues with personal space though and will fly around you at close range, even crawling into openings in clothing. Most wasps are carnivorous and will take any insects they can find. They will hover around and search quite extensively from a fairly short range, and occasionally land on you. Do not swat at a wasp - they will sting. They are also attracted to bright colors and sweet scents.

Wasp nests are varied according to the type of wasp - they can be underground, in hollow trees, in walls or roof-spaces, under the eaves of buildings, hanging from branches and can be easy to identify if you can see it. I've seen them as small as a golf-ball (paper wasp nest starting out) and heard of them as big as a car (german wasp). If you can identify the nest, this will tell you about the type of wasp and your relative risk. German wasps and hornets tend to be very aggressive, especially in defense of the nest, while paper wasps are less so and will only sting if feeling trapped.

There is no one-stop-shop for avoiding all of these different species. The general advice is to stay away from hives/nests, stay away from food sources (and water too - they have to drink also), avoid wearing bright colors, avoid sweet scents and having potential food sources around, avoid sudden movements when they fly by (hard with anxiety, I know). One solution might be to get a small portable tent with a sealable door. Another might be to wear long-sleeved clothing and a hat with a veil.

If you are concerned about allergic consequences - consult your doctor or allergist and get tested and carry the appropriate medication for your condition.

  • I am not able to distinguish between bees and wasps. However, I can tell that there are two species, one that likes to hover near the ground and is the one that likes to fly by my face. They are slim looking. Decided to sit on a metallic stairs nearby(I think they are emergency stairs), so as not to disturb their habitat and let them be. Yesterday it seemed to be effective. Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 8:24
  • The other species is fat and furry looking, did not have many encounters with them. The one I did, I think it was dying, fell right besides me, barely moving. I left it alone, I feel like it was attracted to my food: since then I've avoided eating in those kinds of areas. Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 8:26
  • The kind that likes to hover near the ground is the more aggressive. By all means, avoid disturbing them.
    – ab2
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 16:51
  • The fat furry one (maybe ~2-3 cm/1" long, but may be shorter, depending on species) is probably a bumblebee, they only live about a month and then the hive dies off. They are very non-aggressive, you can even gently stroke them when they sit on flowers. If you can easily see the difference between the head, thorax and abdomen, then it's a wasp. These will be more aggressive than bees in general
    – bob1
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 20:17
  • The ones that are flying by your face are probably German wasp commonly but incorrectly called yellow jackets. Bees are fuzzy, and their buzz or more like a fly that a wasp. The ones flying nearer the ground could be bees, it’s likely, but could also be non-aggressive solitary wasps looking for food to bring home.
    – Escoce
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 3:35

This is not a definitive answer, but it may be helpful.

First, if you think you may be allergic to bee or wasp stings, see your doctor, or a doctor and explain your family history and this exposure that you cannot avoid. Ask the doc if you should get an epi-pen, which is an easy, quick way to inject yourself with epinephrine. (It is expensive, but cheaper than dealing with a full blown reaction.

Second, if what you are calling bees and wasps are actually yellow-jackets, the problem you face is more severe, because yellow jackets are much more aggressive. They are like little yellow-striped fighter jets, and they get angry very easily. I don't think you have a yellow jacket problem, because if you did, I think you would know it by now.

Bees and wasps are actually pretty laid back. Try just ignoring them, but do check out the epi-pen with your (or your mother's) doc or the medical center on campus. Ignoring them is easy to say, but if you have a phobia, hard to do. Long sleeves, long trousers and a brimmed hat and a mosquito veil may help you feel more comfortable. As for encouraging them to develop a sense of personal space, they are not going to do that.

Moreover, according to @bob1, insect repellent does not work, and its sweet smell may even attract them.

  • I can vouch that insect repellent does not work - if anything the sweet smell might attract them more.
    – bob1
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 21:46

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