Bee Stings

It is common to be stung by honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets or you can be bitten by fire ant (they belong to the same venomous class of insects). Basically, the symptoms are the same: pain, redness, swelling and itching. Bee stings hurt because the insect has injected venom into your skin.

Depending on which insect stings you, your immediate response should be different. Hornets, wasps and yellow jackets normally remove their stingers after they hit your skin. As a result they can sting you repeatedly. If you encounter trouble with any of these insects your best bet is to try to get away to avoid further stings. The honeybee is the only one who dies after she stings. That's because her stinger is barbed and she can't extract it from your skin. So when she pulls away, she leaves behind her stinger and the stinger sac which contains venom. The stinger sac keeps pumping venom into your skin. If you get stung by a honey bee your first response should be to remove the stingers so that venom does not keep pumping into your skin.

Once you've been stung, there's no antidote for bee venom and no way to draw the venom out of your skin. After being stung, first put an ice cube on the sting site to keep the swelling and pain down. Then apply a paste made from baking soda and water. If it continues to itch you can put calamine lotion on the sting. Finally, if you feel you are prone to severe local allergic reactions to stings you should use an over the counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl. If the reaction persists elevate the stung arm, leg or other body part so that gravity helps fluid leave the area.

People who are allergic to bee venom can develop serious life-threatening reactions to a sting so those individuals should seek appropriate medical attention following a sting.