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13 Simple Home Remedies for Bee Stings

Bee stings hurt and that is a fact, But the good news is, you may already have some effective home remedies for bee stings in your kitchen cabinets. If you only suffer from minor pain and itching you may be able to find some relief in natural ways.

Woman using home remedy for bee sting relief on arm image.

How to Treat Bee Stings

For those of us who love the great outdoors – it is inevitable that we will cross paths with a stinging insect at some point.

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While it sure does hurt, a couple of stings are not usually dangerous-unless you are allergic to the venom. If you think you may be allergic, never attempt self treatment – visit the nearest emergency center.

Bee or Wasp Different Venom

All stings hurt and may cause swelling and pain. But chemically, different types of venom are not the same even though they cause similar skin reactions.

Wasps vs bees – a person can be allergic to one and not another. However, some people are allergic to both types of venom.

If you see a stinger stuck in your skin, you have probably experienced a honey bees sting. Bees inject a lot of venom in one event. Honey bees usually die after stinging you so they only get 1 shot.

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Wasps (such as Yellow Jackets) have smooth stingers and can sting repeatedly! This is one reason homeowners often create Yellow Jacket traps during mid Summer in an effort to reduce the population.

If you think you may be allergic to insect stings, have a talk with your doctor. Carry an epi-pen or whatever safety precautions are advised. Do not attempt home treatment for bee stings if you are having allergic reactions!

Skin reactions to a bee sting image.

What to Do If You Get Stung by a Bee?

  • walk away to a safe place
  • remove any of the stinger left in the wound
  • clean the sting area

Oh no! It has happened. You have been stung by a bee. The first thing you should do is walk quickly away from the sting location.

Honey bees do not sting from aggression but defense. Perhaps you are close to a beehive or nest without realizing it!

Try to avoid running and flapping your arms! Yes, I know that is easier said than done! But, if you are near a hive, flapping and running can encourage the bees to follow you.

Just walk away quickly and get inside or into a wooded area – even inside the car if possible.

What to Do When a Kid Gets a Bee Sting?

Kids are subject to an increased risk if they get stung multiple times. Their bodies are smaller and cannot cope with as much venom. The treatment protocol for children is the same as adults.

How to Remove a Bee Stinger

Bee sting symptoms will occur rather quickly. Once you are in a safer location, get that stinger out!

The stinger will continue to pump venom for several seconds. The longer you leave the stinger in your skin, the more venom you receive.

All home remedies for bee stings work better if you were quick to remove that stinger. Less venom means less reaction and pain later.

Do Not Squeeze or Pull a Stinger!

Grabbing and squeezing the bee stinger will empty the attached venom sac poison into your skin. Instead, scrape the stinger out . Using a finger nail, credit card or beekeeper hive tool, scrape the stinger off with a quick flicking motion.

Honey bee stinger with venom sac attached in human finger image.

Clean the Sting Site to Avoid Infection

Aside from a reaction to venom, a bee sting can get infected. Bacteria on the surface of the skin can be introduced inside the body as the stinger pierces your skin.

Before applying any treatment, clean the area with soap and water. Most stings clear up in a day or so if no infection occurs.

Normal Reactions to Bee Stings

Many of our home care techniques focus on the goal of preventing infection and giving some relief from discomfort.

Thankfully, you should only experience discomfort for a short time. Any problems that last more than a few days or continue to worsen require a trip to the doctor.

Sting reactions vary from one person to another. But, they share a few common points.

  • pain
  • swelling/redness
  • itching
  • heat

Okay, let’s get it out of the way. Bee stings cause some pain. You may experience pain for a few minutes or a bit longer. And, sometimes it hurts worse than others.

Many of my beekeeping friends swear that stings are more painful in late summer than earlier in the year! Pain for a short time is normal and does not signal a major problem.

Swelling, Redness and Itching is Common

Some pain and swelling with redness (a local reaction) is common. This is your immune system’s response to the protein rich venom. If the only affected area is the sting site, you are probably not “allergic”.

Less than 3% of the population is truly allergic. That’s not compensation if you are one of that 3%, right? You may experience some heat near the sting site but it should dissipate by the next day.

Swollen hand from a bee sting reaction image.

Allergic Reactions

Whether you are known to be allergic or not, let someone know you have been stung. This is in case you get into an emergency condition and need help.

Someone who has a major reaction to a sting once, has a 30% – 60% chance of another. Serious problems generally develop within 1-2 hours.

I know beekeepers who have kept bees for years with no serious sting reactions. Then suddenly, they become allergic!

I always take precautions when I am stung by my honey bees. I make sure someone knows and I take a Benadryl after a sting for good measure.

When to Seek Emergency Help

Local reactions (swelling, redness, itching) are normal. They resolve themselves as long as no infection occurs.

Severe bee allergy reactions are systemic. Affecting parts of the body away from the sting site, they are life threatening. Difficulty breathing and a drop in blood pressure can occur.

Signs of a severe bee sting reaction include: swelling in the face (unless you were stung there), swelling of the lips, tongue or throat.

This can progress to being unable to breath. Seek emergency help immediately – do not attempt home remedies in this situation.

If your family members are known to be allergic to stings, wear Medical alert ID. This allows emergency officials to give the best and quickest help.

Best Home Remedies for Bee Sting Relief

If you have a local reaction, the following tips may provide some relief. Try to avoid scratching the sting site. ( I know… it’s difficult.)

  1. for pain: aspirin, acetaminophen or antihistamine orally -if allowed
  2. apply a cold compress to the sting area for 10 minute intervals
  3. baking soda: thick past of baking soda and water to sting site
  4. honey: some folks swear that the use of honey on the site helps
  5. toothpaste: applied to site gives relief for bee stings but not wasp
  6. meat tenderizer applied to sting site
  7. Apple Cider Vinegar applied to site for 30 minutes
  8. wet aspirin applied to sting site
  9. Lavender Essential Oil mixed with Olive Oil applied to site
  10. Tea Tree Essential Oil mixed with Olive Oil applied to site
  11. Witch Hazel applied to the sting site several times a day
  12. Aloe Vera Gel may soothe the swelling
  13. Meat Tenderizer – mixed with a little water applied to sting site for 30 minutes

How Often do Beekeepers Get Stung ?

Beekeepers face a higher risk of being stung than most people. And yes, we do get stung from time to time.

Managing colonies with thousands of stinging insects will result in some stings. That’s just a true fact about bee life. But over time, beekeepers learn hive management methods to reduce stinging situations.

Wearing our protective beekeeping suits and wise use of a bee smoker saves bee lives and lessens our chance of bee-magedon.

Also, the beekeeper learns how to choose the best time of day and best weather to open hives. This helps keep the colony calm.

Beekeepers Can Become Immune or Allergic to Honey Bee Stings

The human body is a remarkable thing. In many cases, beekeepers experience less pain and swelling from stings over time. For some, this represents less effects from venom over the years.

Other beekeepers have pain and swelling from their stings early in the season and less so later in Summer.

And then, there is the beekeeper who has little reaction to stings for 20 years and then all of a sudden-develops an allergy. You just never know.

How Long Does it Take A Bee Sting to Heal?

Swelling from a bee sting can last a while. But, swelling and redness should fade over the next 24 to 48 hours. If you find the redness growing in size, it is time to head to the doctor.

Getting stung is a part of beekeeping.  Its not my favorite part.  Whether you are a beekeeper or not, chances are you will experience a sting someday. 

Jot down these care tips for sting relief just in case! And for those times when you are on the go – consider Stop the Sting – This is a favorite product among my beekeeping friends. It is reported to provide quick sting relief. A blessing when multiple stings are received.

And don’t forget that your pets can suffer from bee stings too. In fact, your dog may even eat a bee but it is not necessarily life threatening. Like a sting to a human, proper attention is needed for any allergic reaction.

*** Medical Disclaimer – I am a beekeeper not a doctor.  These are suggestions and basic information.  Seek medical advise and treatment.

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