Bananas & Bees… What ALL Beekeepers should know!!

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I am sure many beekeepers also like bananas! I mean, the banana is a pretty commonly eaten fruit (except by my sister who shudders at the thought of one!!). If you are a beekeeper and bananas are a part of your diet, you may want to read this short article first 🙂 There is a pretty important misconception that you should be aware of when it comes to bees and bananas!

What is the Misconception about Bananas and Bees?

Some people have noted that bananas contain the chemical component Isoamyl acetate (as an ester that gives bananas that lovely ‘banana’ smell!). This very same component is the thing that sends bees into their fight-or-flight mode (or ‘attack’ mode), as it acts as an alarm pheromone of a bee sting. Therefore, many people have assumed that it is unsafe to have bananas near bees, and that beekeepers should ‘put down that banana’ (as was so aptly put by one particular mis-guided bee blogger).

Are Bees Really More Aggressive Around Bananas?

This is what I love about the world around us! It is way more complex than we give it credit for! It would seem obvious to us that if a component from a bees alarm pheromone is in food, that this food would also cause alarm to said bee!

However, as someone with extensive experience with bees and bananas (they go great on my morning cereal!!) I can tell you that I have never noticed any significant change in my bees’ behaviour whilst chomping down on a banana in my apiary.

Any you may think that as a rather elderly gentleman that I may be loosing my marbles, so to speak! But many other fellow beekeepers have been saying the exact same thing!

There is a Quora thread on this exact question, with several people noting the same as me. Such as Peter Kay who, like me, claims to have extensive experience around bees and has never seen a change in aggressiveness around bananas and bees 🙂 In fact, they seem to ignore the bananas all together!

There is also a similar Reddit thread where a user names ‘Scottish Beekeeper’ also backs up my experiences of bees and bananas. He talks about often having a banana for lunch whilst in his apiary and hasn’t noticed any big difference in his bees’ behaviour towards him.

The thing that really makes me laugh is the fact that most of the people that are talking sense in these threads are people that are actual beekeepers with real experience of bananas around bees. The people not talking sense often seem to assume that just because an alarm pheromone is present, it must make bees aggressive! Saying things like ‘don’t drink banana milkshakes around your beehives’ whilst having no real evidence or experience as to whether this would actually be the case!

This is why you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. This ‘bees will sting you if you have or eat a banana’ thing has been totally overblown, in my opinion by people who don’t know what they are talking about on the internet.

I suppose the simple thing for a beekeeper to do is not listen to anyone on the internet and test for yourself. Go eat a banana in your apiary a few times and see what happens 🙂

Why Don’t Bees Get Aggressive around Bananas?

There have been a few explanations offered as to why bees don’t get aggressive around bananas. The main one being the idea that bees can recognize their beekeepers and know that they are not a threat and not to sting them 🙂

About Grampa Beekeeper

Having spent a lifetime tending to bees, I now want to pass my knowledge onto the next generation of beekeepers. Beekeeping may not be fashionable, but it is my life long passion! From entrance excluders to packaged bee handling, I've got you covered! I'm not the best at writing, though, so bear with me!!

1 thought on “Bananas & Bees… What ALL Beekeepers should know!!”

  1. Have beehive next to my home for 27 years. YES ! the bees attack people with banana breath. My on-line college chemistry course explained it. The hormone produced by bees seraching – in competition for new Queen produce hormone equal to chemical in the banana. So do I believe a Univ. Prof or someone named Grampas Honey ?


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