Removing a Bee Stinger

Removing a Bee Stinger
While it's best to avoid provoking bees in the first place, an occasional sting is inevitable, especially if you're hiking through a patch of nectar-rich flowers, or at a picnic with open cans or cups of sugary soda. Quickly removing the stinger and treating the wound properly can significantly reduce the swelling and discomfort.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Credit card or driver's license
  • Soap and water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton ball
  • Ice or other cold compress
  • Aloe vera gel, calamine lotion, honey, and/or baking soda (optional)
Step 1
Remove yourself from the situation. Bees sting when they sense danger, and in doing so they release a pheromone to call in fellow hive members for reinforcements. If you are stung by one bee, more may be on the way. Leave the area immediately, going indoors if you can.
Step 2
Remove the stinger immediately. The sooner you remove the stinger, the less venom is released and the less pain you'll feel. If you can pull the stinger out with your fingernails, do so. Otherwise, push it out with a credit card, driver's license, or similar stiff plastic card. Start at the tip of the stinger and push up towards when it entered your skin, like you would for a splinter. Do not use tweezers, as this could squeeze more of the stinger's venom into your body.
Step 3
Wash the area well with soap and warm water. Dab it with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Step 4
Apply an ice pack or other cold compress to the sting to reduce swelling and pain.
Step 5
Use aloe vera gel, calamine lotion, honey, or a paste made from baking soda and water to relieve itching and burning.

Tips & Warnings

Do not harass bee hives, and do not violently swat at bees that fly nearby. Instead, ignore them, and gently nudge them off your skin if necessary.
Watch out for any symptoms of anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, vomiting, hives, seizure or confusion, and they can come on within seconds or minutes or a bee sting. A person can experience these symptoms even if he or she has never had a severe reaction to previous bee stings. At the first signs of anaphylactic shock, immediately transport the person to the nearest hospital.

Article Written By Heidi Almond

Heidi Almond worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn. In 2002 Almond graduated cum laude from an environmental liberal arts college with a concentration in writing.

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