What To Put On A Bee Sting: First Aid For Bee Sting

Scientists around the world agree that without bees, human life on this earth will be wiped out with in a four-year span. Why? Bee species are considered as major pollinator of plants: which as we know, our primary food source. Without pollinators, food production would be impossible. Not only that, honeybees and other related species produce honey and other honey by-products that supplies raw materials for some key industries all over the world. These facts convince us that bees are wonderful creatures.

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Here is a thing though: this life-giving insect may also interfere with your daily activities, especially when a honeybee or a bumblebee attacked you with its stinger. Do you know how it feels to be stung by a honeybee? OH my… it really hurts and sometimes, the burning sensation just won’t go away. If you are in pain, here are some of common things to put on a bee sting.

honeybees are pollinators
honeybees are pollinators!


What to put on a bee sting?

  1. Ice – When you got stung by a honeybee, you might immediately suffer from localized reactions like swelling and redness on the affected area. In this case, you might want to get an ice and use it as your first aid. Get some ice, wrapped it on a clean piece of cloth and dump it to the sting for 20 minutes. Ice will act an anesthesia by constricting your blood vessels. This action will temporarily hinder further spread of the bee venom and will give you numbness that you need to ease the pain and itch.
  1. Meat tenderizer – Do you have a meat tenderizer stored on your kitchen cabinet? If yes, go grab some of it, mix it with ice water to make a paste. Apply the meat tenderizer paste to the sting for about 10 minutes. Bee venom consists of simple acids and meat tenderizers got what it takes to disintegrate the chemical composition of that acid. Tenderizers have an enzyme called papain that breaks down the venom easily. Papain is naturally occurring in Papaya, so if you do not have a meat tenderizer handy, get a chunk of papaya fruit and dump it with the affected area.
  1. Take antihistamine – What if you are feeling dizzy or ill after being attacked by a honeybee? The effect might be an anaphylactic allergy and topical first aids might not be enough. Antihistamine like Benadryl can be purchased over the counter (without prescription). Take an oral Benadryl 25 -50 milligrams to reduce swelling and itching. It is best to contact or visit your health care provider if the symptoms won’t go away.

Read this before putting anything on a bee sting

Do not rub the affected area! You have to remove the bee stinger first before doing anything on the injured area. Remove the bee stinger with your fingernails, nail cutter or tweezers in extracting the stinger. It is important not to squeeze the stinger during the process because it will just release the remaining venom and will just worsen the situation.

Call 911 if any of these symptoms occur after a bee sting

  • The victim has a history of anaphylactic shock or severe allergic reactions in the past
  • The victim complains shortness or difficulty of breathing
  • Difficulty in speaking due to tightness of throat
  • Dizziness or vomiting
  • Abnormal pulse rate or heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness

Avoiding bee sting

Wise men say, prevention is better than cure. Do you agree with that? Here are some actionable tips on avoiding bee sting.

  • You must avoid places that are known to be of high concentration of bee hives and nests.
  • Never ever try to disturb bee hives and nests
  • Motorized gardening equipment such us lawnmowers and tractors produce loud noise that could provoke aggressive insects. If you are to use such machineries, be sure that your working area is free from bee population.
  • Do not swat flying insects, especially when you do not know what kind of insect is it that you are targeting. If you noticed that insects are flying around the area, it is best to transfer top safer place as a precaution.
  • Avoid outdoor activities that involve drinking sweet or sugary liquids. Insects such as bees are so much attracted to sugar. For them, sugar is phagostimulant, meaning honeybees might be induced to feed when they smell sugar. Bees are more aggressive when they are foraging.
  • Avoid wearing brightly colored clothes when you are expecting to be in places that are possible to have bee hives or nests.
  • Be selective in using perfumes and colognes. Heavy scented perfumes or colognes are known to be insect attractants. Honeybee communication is mainly chemical in nature. Strong fragrances can interfere with their communication channel. Annoyed and confused honeybee colony is so dangerous!
  • Wear protective gear such as goggles, long-sleeved shirt and pants.

Do bumble bees sting?

Bumblebees are known for its mild tempered behavior. The internet now a days is flooded (or maybe I’m just exaggerating) with videos showing a bumblebee drinking honey on a person’s palm, just like this one here.

But, due to the fact that bumblebees are bee species that also have stingers embedded on their abdomen, it is logical to ask, do bumble bees sting? The answer is YES, they also sting.  They will attack people if they are at risk or agitated. Unlike honeybees, bumblebees can sting you and inflict pain several times without dying. So as long as you are not endangered by their presence, respect its right of way and avoid hurting them.

If in case you have been stung by a bumblebee, you can refer to the tips on what to put on a bee sting discussed above. The only thing is you do not have to look for and remove the sting on your skin because bumble bee stings and its stinger remain intact with its abdomen. Just remember that treating the symptoms during first aid treatment does not guarantee cure. Best thing is that after receiving a first aid, call your health care provider or visit an emergency room near you for proper diagnosis and medication.

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Carlo Bueza is a professional agricultural entomologist whose passion is sharing information to the public. Carlo was a college instructor when he discovered that he can widen out his effort in helping people using the power of the internet. He is now a full time blogger/writer helping common people solve their day to day problems since 2013.

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