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Bee Stings: Prevention and Treatment

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Bee Stings: Prevention and Treatment

In the midst of a mysterious decline in honeybee colonies, it seems prudent to respect the bees that cross our paths. Swatting, smushing, and spraying should be avoided—and remember that when a honeybee stings you, she dies. Preventing stings is a boon to both the bees and us. Here’s how to reduce the risk of being stung–and just in case, how to best treat bee stings naturally.

Honeybees are disappearing at an alarming rate. Nobody is quite sure what is causing the hives’ inhabitants to desert their colonies—now known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)—but it has become a great concern. In the last few years bee populations have declined as much as 60 percent on the West Coast and 70 percent on the East Coast. CCD poses a huge threat to food production as bees are needed to pollinate plants and are extensively used in agriculture for this purpose.

Seems there is little we can do to help—but if we follow these tips and save a bee or two, it certainly can’t hurt.

Reduce the chance of getting stung (and save a bee!):
1. Wear light-colored clothing.
2. Don’t use perfume or soaps, shampoos and deodorants with fragrance.
3. Avoid bananas and banana-scented products.
4. Wear clean clothing and be clean—our sweat makes bees angry.
5. Stay clear of flowering plants.
6. Keep your outside areas clean. Bees and wasps thrive in places with food trash: Picnic tables, grills and other outdoor eating areas.

Understand stinging behavior:
1. If a single bee is pestering you, remain still and cover your face, or lie face down on the ground. (The face is the most likely place for a bee or wasp to sting.)
2. Most bees will not attack if left alone, but swatting at a bee may cause it to sting.
3. If you are attacked by several bees at once your best bet is to run, or jump in water. Bees release a chemical when they sting which alerts other bees to come to their defense. The more bees that have stung you, the stronger the “alarm” will be.

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Read more: Health, General Health, Health & Safety, Lawns & Gardens, Natural Pest Control, Natural Remedies, ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

421 comments

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2:57PM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

I have only been stung once,thankfully.

10:39AM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

I find honey bees to be very docile and many forage for pollen within inches of me while I garden. I move more slowly when they are sharing the same garden flowers that I'm tending and I have not been stung. I believe that bees, like dogs, can pick up and "smell the fear" that some people have when near them. I often see bees begin to chase and "dive bomb" a person who jumps up and runs in circles around them while batting at the air in fear of them when the bees were ignoring the person in the first place. I believe the person's fear and actions have frightened the bee into a defensive mode. (not so much an offensive attack but attempting to drive this "abnormally behaving creature" away from them... just as a dog will bark fiercely but has no intentions of attacking, it is done to make the person go away.) If the person does go away, the bee often will, too. That is why I say it is defensive and not offensive. If a person remains calm... the bees seem to remain calm, too.

3:49AM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

Thank you :)

2:49PM PDT on Mar 30, 2013

Thanks for sharing

10:21AM PDT on Mar 30, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:43PM PDT on Mar 29, 2013

Thanks you

6:32PM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Thanks for the article.

12:34PM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

one comment if someone pesters a bee and it stings and dies how ironic that the one who pestered the bee lives [in most cases] and the bee committed beuside?

11:18AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Thanks

3:36AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Useful tips.

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