How to Treat a Bee Sting

If you hang around bees, chances are good you’re going to get stung. Sounds like an old adage, doesn’t it? It is one of the drawbacks of becoming a beekeeper and getting stung is part of the practice.

Ron Silverman shares his thoughts on treating bee stings

A few things to know about bee stings:

  • Honeybees die after they sting.
  • Honeybees leave behind a venomous toxin that can cause pain.
  • Most bee stings are easily treated at home.
Kara at the hive for how to treat a bee sting piece

How to Treat a Bee Sting

Although none of these remedies have been clinically tested, they are often used to treat a bee sting

  • If you’re allergic to bees, use your epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen). If you don’t have an EpiPen, get to a hospital.
  • Remove the stinger with your fingers or tweezers, the longer the stinger remains, the longer your recovery time.
  • Mix equal parts of water and unseasoned meat tenderizer directly onto the site of the sting to draw out the venom. This neutralizes the poison in just a few minutes.
  • Place a thick poultice of baking soda and water (mix equal parts baking soda and water) directly onto the site of the sting to treat the sting.
  • Use honey as medicine to the area that has been stung
  • Apply toothpaste to the area to help reduce pain
  • Rub a wet aspirin on the sting site to help with pain and inflammation
  • Rub freshly crushed parsley or basil on the bee sting. This should help with pain and at the same time, begin to neutralize the poison.
  • Make a paste out of St. John’s wort oil and bentonite clay and apply it directly to the bee sting. The clay will help draw the poison out of the affected area and the St. John’s wort will help eliminate some of the pain.
  • Apply a drop of lavender oil on the area affected.
  • Rub apple cider vinegar on the area affected.
  • Apply a slice of fresh papaya or onion on the affected area for about 1 hour.
Bees on Raw beeswax out of the hive dripping with honey photo by Kirsten Elstner

Not sure if you have allergies to bee stings?

Signs of Anaphylaxis:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Hives (raised welts)
  • Shortness of breath

If any of the above symptoms present, get to a hospital. Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benedryl), may ease symptoms but will not stop an anaphylactic reaction. If you are a beekeeper, it’s wise for you to keep an EpiPen in your bee box, it may come in handy one day.

If you or someone you love is stung more than 10 times, or if the bee stings inside the nose, mouth, or throat, get to a hospital. Swelling from these stings can cause shortness of breath, even in non-allergic victims.

Redness, swelling, pain, and itching are all common at the site of the bee sting. The pain will usually go away within an hour or so, swelling may last up to a week. Use ice to reduce swelling.