Ouch, you got stung by a honey bee huh! You may find it hard to believe, but it is your own fault. Yep, there are only three reasons these girls would give their lives just to sting you. One, you threatened her hive, two, you made her mad, or three, you got in her way. This article will address those three motives, but first let’s discuss what to do after getting stung.
Now pay attention here, I am not a medical professional, I raise bees and have gotten stung many times. I have practical experience in this realm. If ever, ever in doubt, seek medical help ASAP. Let me repeat for dramatic effect, when in doubt seek medical help.
Without getting into too much gory detail about a bee’s backside, a honey bees’ stinger is barbed (little sharp edges), hollow and filled with venom. This is why it hurts like hell. Most other bees have smooth stingers and to debunk a myth, can sting numerous times. Armed with that insight, let’s talk about how to remove a honey bee stinger. A barbed stinger is going to stick into your skin, so the last thing you want to do is grab the stinger with teeth, tweezers or fingernails, because you will actually inject more venom into yourself by squeezing the hollow stinger. Ooooh, that makes sense. Instead, take a credit card, stiff paper or knife (careful) and gently scrape the stinger out.
Now, that the stinger is out let’s neutralize the venom (yes, some got in there). To relieve the pain, put ice or cold water on it to take the bite out of the sting (a little pun). The open wound should be treated with some antiseptic and this should relieve the itching. Trust me it’s gonna itch. Because the area will swell, consider applying a compress of your favorite home remedy: crushed aspirin or baking soda diluted in water works to neutralize toxic substances, also cloth soaked in onion juice or apple cider vinegar can help. Finally, diluted Tea tree oil breaks down toxins and smells such better than onions if you ask me. The effects of the sting should not last more than 3 days. See you are all better.
Our media screams about killer bees (no such thing) or Africanized bees (highly defensive of their hives) and although rare, folks can get seriously hurt from bees. This is because they go into angioedema or anaphylactic shock. Big words that basically translate to breaking out in hives or a severe allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention, like 911. Let me repeat a third time, if in doubt seek medical help, period.
You made it through the bee sting, now let’s figure out why you got stung. First, were you close to her hive, if so, you probably got a warning fly-by? Unlike most solitary bees (bubble or mason who don’t have hives to protect) honey bees have a colony to defend and actually stand guard on the landing platform of their hives.
These guard bees fly-out and will either bump you in the face or head area as a warning. Their instinct is to attack the face, not because they don’t like the way you look, but because it is most effective in deterring would-be honey thefts (think bears). Once stung, a pheromone is left behind and that alerts the other bees as to who’s the enemy. If you get stung near a hive, it would be wise to run away or all her friends will seek you out and avenge their fallen sister.
The second reason for the sting was the bee (like men) was attracted to your smell such as hair conditioner, perfume, or they wanted whatever sweet thing you were consuming. Of course, you didn’t want to share with this rude bee and you waved it away. That annoyed the girl bee and well, it’s not nice to annoy Mother Nature…especially when she has a stinger. She got excited, you got more excited and the next thing you know, you are doing the get-away-bee dance and you got stung and she got dead…remember those lessons from kindergarten…share.
Finally, the third reason could be you were just in the wrong place at the right time and got between the girls and food. Do I really have to explain the danger of getting between girls and sweet food? Okay, I didn’t think so. Bees leave their hive like a shot, clocking out at 15 MPH, some sources say, and return loaded with nectar or pollen.
Think of it this way, if you stepped unto a busy street full of SUVs destine for the cupcake shop you’d probably get hit. Same is true for that busy bee highway. They are flying so fast and so focused they simply run into you. We’ve experienced more bee hit and runs than we can count. Ah, the price of raising 100,000 girls. Only advice I can offer is to stop, look and listen; hey that sounds like the same advice we got from our Drivers Ed. teacher at railroad crossings. (I’m old school; we had Drivers Ed. back in the day)
Well, there you have it, an exciting blog on the backside of bees.
Thanks to Whispers from the Bee for this amazing time-lapse photo of bees flying to and from their hives! Greenpeace, New Zealand.