BWCA & bees?

MY brother and sister are allergic to bee stings and are wondering if there are many bees in the BWCA.

Bees in BWCA
I’ve seen bumblebees, yellow jackets, paper wasps, and bold face hornets in canoe country. I’ve seen pollen laden jack pines just alive with yellow jackets in the BWCA. My personal opinion is the bold face hornets are probably the worst threat to get stung by because they live in the ground and you usually don’t have a clue you are near their hive. Your chances of encountering bees and wasps on a trip are pretty good July - Sept. But I can only recall once or twice in all the trips I’ve been on that someone in the group got stung. Take along a bee sting kit just in case.

Agree with the bee sting kit
I would also take some Benedryl or Claritin to help with the reaction. Epipen is an adrenalin shot that is self contained- easy for non medical people to give to themselves. your family members should ask their doctor- it depends on the severity of the reaction. the adrenalin or Epipen wroks quick but also wears off fairly quickly, the Benedryl keeps working.

Yes, there are bees!
I remember a trip where a 13 year old friend of my son went with us. He sat down on an old fallen tree and found out it was an active beehive. He only got 2-3 stings, but he had bees climbing all over him for a minute or so.

I was really worried and gave him some fast acting Benadyl right away. Then I sat and watched him like a hawk for about a hour, making sure he had no reaction. After that experience I got my Dr. to prescribe a couple of EpiPens. I always take them with my in my First Aid kit, along with the Benadryl tabs (the 4 hour, not the sustained release ones - they work faster).


They’re there but
Yes, there are bees and other stingers in the B-dub. As a guide for two summers though, nobody in any of my groups ever got stung. The advice of the others is good though. If there is any chance for a reaction, bring an epi-pen. It might also be a good idea to know how to take one apart to get the extra epinepheren in each pen. You should be able to get about three times as much epinepheren out of the pen that way rather than if you just used it once as designed.

Thanks, guys. I told them I didn’t remember seeing any when I was there the first time, which was mid-September - the same time we’re planning to go. We were told, however, that there was a bee’s nest at one campsite, so we moved on since one of the people I was with was allergic. I told them it was unlikely to be a problem paddling in the middle of the lake, and that it would probably be less of a problem than it would be at the picnic area at the local park. But I guess that’ll be one of the first things to check at possible campsites.

My brother never had a reaction to bee stings when he was younger, but got stung one day cutting the grass and had to be rushed to the emergency room. He’s carried an epi-pen ever since. He’s even been stung once or twice since then without having a reaction. Their plan is to take a lot of epi-pens.

where the bees are. We were in northern Wisconsin and had a hive right on the portage path around a rapids on the Flambeau River. Luckily, the rapids were runnable and we were in plastic canoes. The bees would not let anyone close to their nest without stinging. The leader of the group declared everyone was running the rapids, especially people who were bee allergic. It went well, we had experienced people in the stern, no one needed flipped.

like anywhere else
Been to the BW many, many times and bees are no worse there then other places. Actually, I personaly have not encountered as many there as in other places in similiar “all the time out-of-doors” adventures.

Ask docs about getting desensitized.
It is worth the time and money because if it can be done, it removes a very considerable area of risk.

Colors and insects …
It might interest them to know that different insects seem to be drawn to different colors. I was told a few of these and noticed that it seems to hold true. ie: Bees seem to be drawn to yellow, dragon flys to white, tec …

Happy Paddl’n!



I think the advice you have already gotten about preparing yourself for bees is sound advice. I have been to Boundary Waters 6 times since 1997, 3 times with a boy scout troop, and none of us were stung by a bee. We’ve had the usual encounters with mosquitos, flies, and no-see-ums. I’m sure I have seen bees up there but I do not recall any significant event with them. I can think of many other camping trips where bees have been a nuisance, but I have not had that experience at Boundary Waters. But, I would still prepare myself for it just in case.