Buzz Off!

I usually manage to share the earth pretty well with the bee population – I don’t bother them, they make their delicious honey and we’re all good. But when a rogue trouble-making bee does decide to stake his claim… wowza, does it hurt! And though they may be little, their stinging ability is definitely fierce – here is a bit of info and advice on how to deal with stings. And remember to always consult your doctor first about any medical or health issues such as this, especially if you know you or your kiddos are allergic!


A few helpful facts:

When a bee stings, it jabs a barbed stinger into the skin. Removing the stinger and its attached venom sac right away will keep more venom from being released.

For most bee stings, home remedies are fine (see below).

Even if your kiddos are allergic to stings, it may not show up the first time – and anaphylactic shock generally happens in only 1% of stings. When it does happen, (in which case, get medical attention immediately!) it can result in any of the following:

  • tightness or swelling of the throat
  • severe itching of the skin
  • nausea and vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • heart failure
  • irregular heart beats
  • lowered blood pressure

Allergies to stings are usually hereditary, so if you are allergic, your child may be also.

It’s a good idea to seek medical attention if any of these happen:

  • If you have received multiple stings
  • If the sting is located in the eye or eye area
  • If symptoms of infection (pus, drainage, fever, increasing pain and redness) develop
  • If the initial symptoms worsen or persist for longer than 24-48 hours
  • If a sting produces severe symptoms in young children, the elderly, or those with chronic medical problems 

Act fast – what to do about that pesky and painful stinger:

  • More toxin is released after about 30 seconds, so you want to get that stinger out as soon as possible. The best way is actually to use a credit card or something with the same shape (even fingernails will work) – apply the card to the skin around the sting site and gently push toward it from all directions. The stinger will pop right out! If you try to pluck it out with your fingers, you may leave a bit of it in the skin, so resist the urge to do that.
  • Wash the area with soap and water and apply cold compresses to relieve pain and ease swelling.
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to ease redness, itching or swelling.
  • Avoid scratching the sting area. This will worsen itching and swelling — and increase your risk of infection.

Okay, so how do you avoid this altogether? Here are a few suggestions from the experts:

  • Apparently, brightly colored and flower-print clothing attracts bees, so…
  • Fragrances and cosmetics with floral scents can attract them
  • Bees love sweet drinks, like soda, so if you’re on a picnic, watch your cup! Or, just drink some delicious water alternatives!
  • Of course, they do sneak up unexpectedly, but if you know you’re going to be in their neck of the woods, wear long pants, long sleeve shirts and close toed shoes.
  • Don’t freak out! If the little guys do fly around you, stay still and don’t run away – this usually (emphasis on the ‘usually’) keeps them calmer.

Good luck out there, guys!

Do you have a great home remedy for bee stings? I’d love to hear your ideas!



Photo credit: US Green Chamber, WikiMedia.
Gourmet Dad
  • Kathleen O

    Caladryl is supposed to be very helpful to relieve the pain of stings. However, Crest toothpaste is excellent as is a paste of baking soda, vinegar, and meat tenderizer. And let’s not forget good old ice. Apply ice for 20 minutes and that should do the trick as well.

  • Dean McDermott

    Thanks, Kathleen – I love remedies that come from the kitchen!

  • Gourmet Mama

    We keep an Epi pen on hand in case of severe allergic reaction, but if there is obviously no allergic reaction but the child has been stung I use Lavender Essential oil. It takes the sting out and the initial swelling. It’s great!

  • LoriApp

    My dad was a beekeeper when I was younger.Worked many hours in the bee yards. MANY stings! To remove a stinger, scrape your credit card or nail in the opposite direction it entered. Do it as soon as you can. Honeybees will usually have a little ball at the end and it the “poison sack” if you watch it, it pulses. That’s the venom going into you. Never squeeze that! It injects more into your system. That’s why you scrape it out. Butter works good too!