Interesting article today from the Washington Post about honey bee behavior. Judith Reinhard from the University of Queensland and Martin Giurfa from the University of Toulouse found that bees were less aggressive and stung less when lavender scent was introduced.

"When flowery scents like lavender were added, the bees chilled out. It wasn't simply a question of masking one scent with another - some food-related scents, like citrus, had no effect - but the compounds linalool and 2-phenylethanol, along with the scent of lavender (a mix of linalool and other chemicals) seemed to block the aggressive response to the alarm hormone.

Since stinging is such a nasty business, it's not surprising that bees might be hardwired to avoid it in favor of accessing available food for the hive. But the bees didn't have to rely on memories of previously foraged snacks in order to decide what food trumped fighting. Even newly-emerged bees, who had never foraged and therefore had no experiential preference for particular flowery smells, were calmed by the lavender-related scents."

It’ll be interesting to see if somebody comes up with some sort of product using this research. Perhaps something to add to your smoker, or a spray of some sort?

Source: Washington Post - Angry bees are easily distracted by food, study finds