With all my dealings with bees, I would have to say that they do recognize their keeper?!
Mine are located at my summer home and I have just today mentioned to my wife,
how strange it seems that when I am in proximity of the hives, they come out and about - even though the temp. was only +6 today. (they were still chasing out drones..?) But, when I am not there - not one is seen?
Last year I had 8 tandem loads of gravel brought in and dumped on one spot where I plan to build a garage. While I was cutting down the trees and brush I realized that there was a wild bee colony in the ground - right smack in center of my spot. I instructed the truck-driver not to dump there, but crazy bugger did it anyway - on purpose! The whole 16 yards of gravel, right on the nest!
Well, I grabbed the shovel and started digging! But, poor things outperformed me!
Before I could dig to where I judged that their entrance would be - they emerged about 3 feet up on the pile. To make a long story short. I shoveled and leveled all them 8 loads and not one bee bothered me.
But every time my wife would come to try to help they would sting her in the head
before she would even get to the further pile in the bunch. After three different attempts, on different days and three stings she decided that the old fool and his bees can have the gravel all to themselves, heee. . . .
Maybe they did not recognize me - but were only thankful for helping them out in need. .
I kinda hope that next year they would not be there - cause I would really like to put up that garage...