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Bee Stings: Prevention and Treatment

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How to treat a sting:
1. Scrape the stinger out as quickly as possibleódo not pull or squeeze the stinger out as that may release more venom.
2. Clean with soap and water to prevent infection.

To reduce pain, itch and swelling:
Over the counter sting remedies vary in efficacy and may contain toxic ingredients as harmful as the bee venom! Instead try:

Ice: Ice lessens swelling by constricting vessels and reducing the flow of venom in the blood. And the numbing effect soothes pain and itching.

Baking soda: Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the sting site. The alkaline nature of the baking soda helps to neutralize the acidity in the venom. You can also mix in some meat tenderizer which contains a naturally occurring enzyme (papain, from papaya) that helps to break down the protein in the venom.

Vinegar: When stung by a wasp, vinegar is the soother of choice. Use this trick to remember: Baking soda for bees (both at the beginning of the alphabet), vinegar for wasps (both at the end of the alphabet).

Toothpaste: Believe it or not, this is a great remedy which works on the same alkaline/acidity premise as baking soda. The presence of small amounts of glycerin in toothpaste may also add to its soothing properties. Also, a small tube of toothpaste is handy to pack in a travel first aid kit or picnic basket.

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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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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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