How To Remove A Bee Sting

How to Remove A Bee Sting

Honey Bee in Flight
Honey Bee, Source Pixabay, Kathy2408

Bees are a passive creature by nature. They really only attack close to the nest when their home (the colony) is under attack or when they feel personally threatened. Otherwise they simply go about their day looking for flowers and collecting nectar that ultimately gets converted into wonder sweet honey for us to eat.

Hiking Bees
Hiking Bees, Source Pixabay, Josch13

Every so often people stumble across a bee hive. Because people are so close to the hive, the bees believe the hive is in danger. Sensing the hive is in danger, a single bee or several bees from the colony may attack you (sting you). Alternatively, in a worst case scenario, it may feel like so many bees are attacking you that you feel like the entire hive it attacking you.

Worker bees have a venom sac located on their bottoms. This stinger is barbed and very pointy. The female worker bee can “sting” many animals with her barb. Humans however have thicker skin and are more elastic by nature than many other animals. As such the sharp stinger pierces our skin and the barbs stick into our skin. This means that they have trouble retracting and gets “stuck”. This is what makes them able to pierce our skins and “sting” us and then remain stuck seemingly trapped within our skin.

The Bee Sting
The Sting, Source Wikipedia, Waugsberg

It is often at this point that we notice the bees and try to “swat” them away. Unfortunately the barbs of the bee stinger is trapped in our skin and the bee can’t get out easily. At this point many people “take another swipe” at the bee with their hands and crush it under the pressure of the “slap” from our hands.
In doing this the worker bee venom sac is pierced a mild toxin is released. Many people are fine with this small amount of toxin. Some people are allergic to this toxin. In extreme cases they can have a severe anaphylaxis reaction and will require urgent medical assistance.

Because of this, the best advice is really is just to leave the bee alone. It really just wants to go about its day looking for pollen, nectar or water to eat. A single bee isn’t really interested in humans and are very unlikely to sting us.
In this case the best advice I can give you is from the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (www.ars.usda.gov, 2017)

Here is a short 1 minute video with advice on how to safely remove a honey bee stinger.

The author is: Jason Chrisman                 Video date is: Jul 8, 2013

The key points are:

  1. the faster you remove the stinger the less chance of extra toxins being released into your muscles.
  2. Try not to pierce the venom sac.
  3. Use your finger nail and make contact ONLY with the actual pointy part of the stinger.
  4. Scrape AWAY from the body and this pressure should release the stinger.
  5. The stinger should be fully released now.

To see more videos by Jason Chrisman, please click here.

IF you would like to lean more about How Bees make honey, please click here.

The top 8 things to do if stung by a bee

1. RUN away quickly. Do not stop to help others. However, small children and the disabled may need some assistance.

2. As you are running, pull your shirt up over your head to protect your face, but make sure it does not slow your progress. This will help keep the bees from targeting the sensitive areas around your head and eyes.

3. Continue to RUN. Do not stop running until you reach shelter, such as a vehicle or building. A few bees may follow you indoors. However, if you run to a well-lit area, the bees will tend to become confused and fly to windows.Do not jump into water! The bees will wait for you to come up for air. If you are trapped for some reason, cover up with blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, or whatever else is immediately available.

4. Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees emit a smell that will attract more bees.

5. Once you have reached shelter or have outrun the bees, remove all stingers. When a honey bees stings, it leaves its stinger in the skin. This kills the honey bee so it can’t sting again, but it also means that venom continues to enter into the wound for a short time.

How to Get The Stinger Out Safely
How to Get The Stinger Out Safely, Source Wiki How To, Harrison Lewis

6. Do not pull stingers out with tweezers or your fingers. This will only squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape the stinger out sideways using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.

 

7. If you see someone being attacked by bees, encourage them to run away or seek shelter. Do not attempt to rescue them yourself. Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack. The emergency response personnel in your area have probably been trained to handle bee attacks.

8. If you have been stung more than 15 times, or are feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention immediately. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight. This means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1100 stings.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (www.ars.usda.gov, 2017)

The best way to recover from the sting.

Ice Pack
Ice Pack, Source Wiki How To, Harrison Lewis

Swelling may be reduced by icing the wound and/or taking an antihistamine such as Benedril. Topical solutions such as calamine may also help to alleviate pain associated with stinging. It is beneficial to drink plenty of water.

 

 

Bee Sting Reactions Including EpiPen,
Bee Sting Reactions Including EpiPen, Source Wiki How To, Harrison Lewis

If you believe that your reaction to the sting is excessive or if the throat or airways become blocked or start swelling immediately. It’s best to be cautious because in extreme cases people have been shown to be having an anaphylaxis response to the bee venom.

 

 

If you would like more information on bees in general, please feel free to visit  United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service via their website.  Please click here.

If you would like to see more videos by Jason Chrisman, please click here.

If you would like to lean more about the benefits of eating Manuka Honey, please click here.

Have you ever been stung by a bee or wasp?  Was it painful or was it alright?  Do you have any tips or useful pieces of advice to share with us?  Are you a beekeeper?

Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions in the comments field below.

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22 Replies to “How To Remove A Bee Sting”

  1. #6? I would have never guessed that i was putting more poison back into my body.

    Over in the US, for whatever reason, bees aren’t as common as they used to be but this is great info if i do get stung again, which hurts like hell

    1. Hi Ben,

      Thanks for stopping by my website today, I really appreciate that.

      Yes, you are right. Many people feel a lot of pain when they get stung by a bee. The pain levels alter from person to person, with the worst case scenario being Anaphylaxis requiring an epi-pen and immediate medical attention. It’s lucky for us that these cases are rare for the majority of people.

      I am sorry to hear that bees aren’t as common as they used to be in your part of the world. If you are lucky enough to live in a house with a front or back garden, perhaps you could find a few plants to put in the ground. Hopefully they will produce pretty flowers and then the bees will come and visit you.

      Ben, are you interested in learning more about the health benefits of Manuka Honey? If yes, please feel free to click on my link called

      Thank you for stopping by our website today.

  2. Wow Bec, what a brilliant post. I learnt so much, thank you! I had no idea there was a way to remove a bee sting to avoid the venom being released. I’m not so concerned about me as I’ve been stung by bees a couple of times during my life and the pain was minimal so I don’t have any fear of bee stings. I read with interest because I’d like to protect my son should he ever be stung. Yesterday he was playing with friends outside and their ball got stuck in a bush teaming with bees happily collecting nectar. The children were afraid of the bees so I climbed in to retrieve the ball and you are so right, the bees just went about their business, paying no attention to me at all. Hopefully, the children not to be afraid of bees too.

    1. Hi Lauren,

      Thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your family’s story with us.  I really appreciate that.  I am so happy to hear that you were there to help your children better understand bees and how to be safe around animals.  What a great mum you are!

      Bees really are wonderful and do many kind things for us, such as pollinating 3 / 4 of the world’s food supply!  This is a MASSIVE amount of pollination that simply wouldn’t get done if bees were no longer around.  To learn more about how bees go about collect nectar, please feel free to see my link at How Is Honey Made?  Kids in particular love this explanation and boys really love the part about how bees share the nectar with other bees.

      Thanks so much for dropping by today.

  3. Thank you for this great article on Bees.
    They always fascinate me and i understood some important aspects from your article. I didn’t know for example that bees don’t attack without being provoked or feeling danger. I know there is a lot of panic when a bee is around and fear takes over and as we all know fear is a lousy manager.
    Thank you for this informative article
    Cheers
    Orion

    1. Hi Orion,

      Thank you so much for stopping by today.  I really appreciate that.

      Yes, I agree bees really are fascinating little creatures.  They really do deserve the title “busy little bees” because they are really only focussed on collecting nectar and bringing it back to the hive. People don’t interest them at all unless they feel threatened.

      If you are curious to know more about the health benefits of raw honey, please feel free to click on my link called Raw Honey and Weight Loss – The Results Will Surprise You.

      Thank you again for stopping by today.

  4. This is a great article! The scraping technique to take out bee stinger is a very important one that everyone should know. I’ve only been sting by bee a few times in my life, and I’ve used the “natural” pinch and pull way. I really wish I had known about this earlier…

    1. Hi Isaac,

      Thank you so much for visiting us today and for your kind words, I really appreciate that.  I am glad that I could be of some assistance for you.

      It is nice to hear that you have only been stung a few times in your life. It’s true, bees really aren’t that interested in us and really just want to go about “doing their own thing” without bothering us.

      Are you at all curious about how bees make honey?  If yes, then I have a great article for you to read.  I hope you like it, it can be found at How Is Honey Made?

      Thanks again for stopping by.

      All the best.

  5. Hello very helpful information. This site looks so professional, very good job with providing external links in such a professional way. I have been stung by bees twice luckily not too many bees at a time. This post taught me a lot. Poor creature I was not aware that upon stinging us they remain stuck. Thank you for sharing.

    Cheers
    Raman

    1. Hi Raman,

      Thank you for visiting us today. I am happy to hear that you have only been stung by a bee on a small number of occasions. The bees really aren’t interested in us at all. They really are just so happy “doing their
      thing” and visiting flowers and collecting nectar to make honey.

      Yes, I was like you on that very rare occasion when I have been stung in the past and pulled out the stinger and part of bee. I feel sorry for the bees now because I know that they would have flown off and died.

      I certainly have a lot more respect for bees now that I know how wonderful honey is and how much bees help us in the natural world.

      I have written an article on the benefits of Manuka Honey I think you would really enjoy reading it. You can get there by clicking on this link.

      Thank you again for visiting us today. Many kind regards.

  6. Thanks for the great advice Bec. While reading your post it seemed to me that the best step to take is to avoid the bee hive, but like you say you could stumble upon one quite by accident.

    I think it is human nature to swat anything that attacks you. The problem is to control our instincts.

    I am not sure if I am even allergic to bee stinks so I will have to be careful how I react if I ever encounter them.

    I will have to bookmark this post for future reference.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Owain,
      Thank you for visiting our humble website today. I really appreciate that.
      I really like your tip, that the #1 thing we can do is just to try and avoid the bee hive to start with! The bees really are just focussed on “doing their thing” and aren’t really bothered by us, unless they get scared or feel threatened.
      Bees really are amazing creatures. Have you ever wondered “How do bees make honey?”. I was very curious about it. So a wrote a blog post on that exact topic, .

      I hope you find it interesting. Thank you for visiting us today. All the best.

  7. Hi,
    Thanks for this extraordinary instructive article! I love honey, I never eat sugar, and I respect the life and work of bees. I eat pollen and bee bread and I use all of the hive products in different forms.
    Even if the venom introduced by bees when stinging has in most cases health benefits, obviously the pain and the risk of allergies should not be neglected.
    I highly appreciate the tips for avoiding the attack of the colony of bees, because in accidental cases it is good to know how to avoid the inconvenience.
    Everybody should learn these tips.

    Please, be aware that you didn’t put links to the other videos of Jason Chrisman after the video.

    1. Hi Basil,

      Thank you so much for visiting and for your kind words.  I really appreciate that.  I am so glad to hear that you really enjoy honey over white processed sugar.

      It’s great to hear that you use honey and hive products all the time.  To tell you the truth, I actually have never tried bee bread. What is like? Is it sweeter than standard raw honey or is it slightly more bitter by comparison?

      I agree that raw honey is simply amazing. I have written a post on just this topic.  Please feel free to have a look at it at Manuka Honey v Raw Honey

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  8. Good evening Bec,

    I would like to start saying I love nature and all that has been created there, also bees. I am aware of their importance for our survival, without bees the human race can not survive, bees form an important link.
    I do not get hysteric when bees come close so I have never been stung by them. You are right in stating bees are busy doing their things and that does not include attacking us.
    I live in the south of Spain and in my rather small village, I have found a place where real, unprocessed or heated honey is sold. I take a nice big spoon a day as it is one of the healthiest things you can do.
    It is so nice to see your website highlighting all the positives about bees.

    Regards, Taetske

    1. Hi Taetske,

      Thank you for visiting us today.  Yes, bees really are wonderful. They help us in so many ways.  I didn’t fully realise this fact until I did a post on how do bees make honey?  You can read the information via this link How Is Honey Made?  

      I agree with you that raw local honey is simply amazing.  It is full of the natural pollens and some beneficial compounds that we need to help our bodies, this topic lead me to create a blog called Is Honey Healthy? 

      Thank you again for visiting us today.

      1. Good afternoon,

        Thank you for replying to my comment. Yes, I do know how honey is made, bees are so clever. The sad thing is that bees are disappearing and that poses a great danger for us humans. It is, of course, our doing, the uses of pesticides are ruining our planet and the consequences of our stupid behaviour are now coming to light.
        I have also written about bees, doing that I hope people wake up before it is too late.

        Regards, Taetske

        1. Hi Taetske,

          Thank you for coming back to visit our humble website. I am honoured to have you as my first ever return visitor in the comments section. This is great because it represents another milestone in the life of my website.

          Yes, I agree with you that bees worldwide are suffering greatly from the effects of “bee colony collapse”. This is a significant man made global problem. Australia has so far avoided the worst of the global bee colony collapse issues, largely as a result of our very strict quarantine issues, but isolated colony’s are beginning to be impacted in various states.

          This truly is one problem where it will require the collective expertise of global experts to solve. The European honey bee has been introduced world wide and is now responsible for assisting in the pollination of 3/4 of the world’s food crops. Because it is an introduced species however, protective funding is very limited. Most of the animal protection budget in Australia is spent on trying to prevent the extinction of native plants and animals. Australia is lucky enough to have several species of native bees and believe it or not TWO species of ANTS that collect honey in their abdomens that Aboriginals would feast upon. For more information please read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeypot_ant

          This is a tough problem to solve indeed! Thanks again for stopping by.

          Thank you again for visiting us today.

  9. Great post, thank you.

    I’ve been stung before at an unusual spot–at the back of my neck. It was so painful that I squirmed in my mum’s kitchen until my dad had to hold me still. I can’t remember what my dad did to take out the stinger.

    In cases where someone is stung at a spot that you can’t see, how do you go about removing the stinger if there’s no one around to help? Would it be OK to just place an ice pack on the swelling until someone can help?

    1. HI Princilla, Thank you for visiting our website for the first time today.  I am always happy to see new visitors.  Sorry to hear that you have been stung by a bee before. I am sorry to hear that it was very painful for you, I was happy to hear that your mum and dad were there to help you.  How old were you if you don’t mind me asking?

      Yes, I agree with you, it certainly is a problem when you are stung in a place where you cannot see or access the point of the sting easily.  There are many examples where because people were unable to reach the point where the stinger entered our skin, the bee was able to twist and turn and eventually work their bodies free and fly away.  YES – this includes the bee taking both the stinger and all the “bee venom” with them. In these cases the person was able to make a full recovery quickly because there was no bee venom released. This is definitely a win for the bee and definitely a win for our bodies as well!

      In the instance that you mentioned of being stung where you can’t see it, then yes ice would be fine to start with and then if you get a severe reaction (especially anaphylaxis), then seek out a second opinion with escalating medical care as you deem necessary.

      If you would like to know more information about how our friends the bees make honey, please see my link How Is Honey Made?

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  10. Hi Glenys, thanks for a really good post. Living with the African bee all my life and with a wife that is seriously allergic to their sting, I have kept myself pretty up to date with how to deal with them. Your article has shown that you can always learn something new and I hope a lot more people view your page to learn how to deal with bee stings. they can be catastrophic and we should know all we can about this possibly deadly sting. Great article. Bryanb

    1. Hi Bryan,

      Thank you for stopping by our website today.  I am sorry to hear that your wife has a major bee allergy.  She is certainly lucky to have someone as caring as you to look out for her.

      I am happy to have helped you today.  If your wife has major issues with bee venom, I was wondering if you or your wife would feel comfortable recommending the best first aid advice that you have come across?

      Should people ice the wound first or in your wife’s case should she just go straight to the nearest hospital?

      Thank you for visiting our website today, I really appreciate that.

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