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What to do if you get stung by a bee!

The following is advice given by various sources and must be taken as simple general advice on what to do in the event of getting stung by a honey bee in the UK.

If you have any concerns the best thing to do is contact your local G.P or NHS Choices immediately for proper medical advice from a medical professional.

What Do I Do If I Get Stung?

Bees will not generally sting if unprovoked, usually the bee has been trapped in hair or crushed to give up its life for the colony. When close to a beehive avoid flapping your arms and moving rapidly, if the bees are antagonised, walk away through undergrowth or trees if possible. If stung scrape the sting out with your fingernail as the sting still pumps venom for some time after the bee has left. The record number of sustained stings one person has had, and survived to count them is 2,243. Ouch!


When a honey bee stings, the sting, venom sac and venom pump are left in the skin after the bee pulls away, the honey bee consequently dies.

Most of the venom will be injected in the first 20 seconds but the pump can continue for up to two minutes. It is important to get the sting out fast to minimize the dose of venom.

The best method is to scratch out the sting with a fingernail or hive tool quickly. Then smoke the area to mask the alarm pheromone in the sting to stop any more bees from stinging in the same area. A quick squirt with wasp-eze or another product will have the same effect as smoke if you are not a Beekeeper.

If possible, close the hive gently, move away for a few minutes and apply a soothing lotion, such as Witch Hazel or calamine lotion onto the affected area. On returning home, an ice pack or packet of frozen peas will help to reduce any pain or swelling resulting from the sting.

There is some evidence that sap from a freshly cut potato and some types of toothpaste can help alleviate the first effects of the bee sting. Other links to suggested remedies can be found HERE

Some people have some allergic reaction to stings. This can range from slight swelling in the vicinity of the sting, to a generalized itching (urticaria) or anaphylaxis (generalised shock including difficulty in breathing).

This very allergic group needs to be careful. Unfortunately even beekeepers that normally show little reaction to bee stings may react adversely the next time they are stung so it is always wise to be prepared and ensure that help can be called in any emergency.

Is it true that a bee sting can be good for you?

Old Beekeepers seldom suffer from arthritis or rheumatism and in Russia bee venom is used directly as a treatment of joint conditions. Research is still ongoing.

Here is an excellent resources on what to do in the event of any insect sting from someone who knows the unfortunate effects of wasp stings HERE


For those who have had a severe reaction to Bee or other stings there is more information on the anaphylaxis campaign website HERE

What actually is Bee Venom?

Here is a chart of differing insect venoms and compounds that are in them HERE

A more detailed scientific answer..

An interesting article on what bee venom consists of and some of its uses HERE


How much does a Bee sting hurt?

An interesting question, it depends basically on how well the bee stings you and where your are stung!

A sting on the face may hurt more that a sting on your elbow, and how long it took to get the sting out is very important too! Many people have tried to quantify this and here are a few attempts at measuring the effects of a Bee sting against far worse things!

The Schmidt insect pain index shows an idea of how much It seems to hurt   HERE

There are Far Far worse things out there!

The bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) gets its name from the shot of intense pain it delivers with its venom-filled sting. The recipient experiences its agonising effects for the next 12 – 24 hours. Living in the South American rainforest and growing to around an inch (2.54cm) long, most of us are capable of keeping out of its way. However entomologist Dr Justin Schmidt has got close enough to this vicious ant in attack mode to rate its sting as the most painful in the world. And yes he is the entomologist who has compiled the Schmidt insect pain index!

BBC news website article about an unusual quest to see what hurts most – OUCH! HERE

Pets and Bee stings

And finally don’t forget that pets and especially inquisitive dogs can get stung too, so restrict access to pets to avoid any un-necessary accidents. For animal stings please consult your local veterinary surgery if you are concerned.