How Not to Get Stung By Bees

It is no secret that the author of this article is a big fan of honey bees and bumble bees, and an unabashed promoter of bee-friendly landscaping. That is why I choose to begin this article with a factoid: Honey bees and bumblebees are totally different from wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. While honeybees and bumblebees (with the exception of the Africanized Honeybee) are not usually aggressive, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are. Wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets do play an important role in the ecosystem, which is eating other insect pests. However, they are aggressive enough that most university extension services recommend having their nests removed by a qualified pest control expert.

Honeybees and bumblebees, on the other hand, are extremely valuable as pollinators, and should not be killed. If you notice swarms of honeybees on your property, call a local beekeeper to remove the bees to his hives. Because honeybee populations are dwindling, it is absolutely preferable not to kill them.

Although honeybees and bumblebees are animals that you actually want in your garden, they do sting. As I said, most types of honeybees are not aggressive toward humans, but if provoked they will sting. You can avoid being stung by these highly beneficial insects by doing a few small and easy things, as recommended by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Cover as much of your body as you can with light-colored, smooth-finished clothing (this also prevents sunburn when working in the garden). Keep your yard free of sugary garbage, like remnants of soda from a barbecue. If you see a bee, don’t swat at it. Remain still, and the honeybee or bumblebee will probably fly away. Swatting at the bee will increase the likelihood of it stinging you. From personal experience: Since every bee sting I have received has happened by stepping on a bee while walking barefoot in the grass, wearing shoes or sandals while playing or working outside is a very simple way to avoid the painful bee sting on the bottom of the foot.

Should you get swarmed by bees, do not run, as running will attract more of them. Instead, seek shelter indoors. If you are outside, move to a shaded area to get away from the bees. Needless to say, if you are allergic to bees, always carry an allergy kit with you, and know how to use it.

If you do get stung by a honeybee, you’ll need to remove the stinger. The Indianapolis-area pest control experts at Purdue University recommend that if you are stung by a honeybee, you should scrape the stinger off with a fingernail or other straight edge. Do not remove a honeybee stinger with tweezers or by squeezing it between two fingers, as it will squeeze the venom into the muscle. Wash the affected area with soap and water. Ice can reduce the swelling of a bee sting. Resist the urge to scratch the bee sting, as it will irritate the skin and prolong your discomfort.

With the foregoing advice, you should be able to garden alongside honeybees and bumblebees without incident. Contact your local beekeeper or apiculture expert if you are experiencing an unpleasant or disruptive number of honeybees or bumblebee in your yard.

10 Ways to Save the Bees
Bee-Friendly Landscaping

By Chaya Kurtz,

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Frances Darcy
Frances Darcy2 years ago

only stung once.... horrible

Janet Gibbon
Janet G.2 years ago

Sound advice.
Technically if you stay very still after being stung, the bee can remove the stinger and live. Though quite sure my automatic reaction would be to knock the bee off.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

when I was 6 years old i stepped on a yellow jackets nest. I was stung 28 times. My mom was stung 6 times. I spent some time in the hospital. I have a phobia of most stinging/biting insects and spiders, and have awful adverse reactions to most bites/stings (vomiting, fever, aches, swelling ect) So i freak when i see them. hyperventilate, climb shower walls, run, cry, fetal position. it gets ugly. We spray barrier every month or so, to keep bugs down to a minimum. I used to need meds for anxiety but do much better now. I am fine around kinder bugs (non stinging ants, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, worms ect)

Peggy A.
Peggy A.2 years ago


Geoff P.
Past Member 2 years ago

Oh just stand there if you are swarmed by bees and look for shade.Great advice.

Ali Gore
Ali Gore2 years ago

I love bees & I respect them. Ive never been stung and I believe its because Im calm around bees so they are calm around me.

Emily Jones
Emily Jones2 years ago

The only time I was ever stung was stepping on one as well. Sometimes it just nice to feel the grass on your feet. lol

Aileen P.
Aileen P.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jen Smith
Jen Smith2 years ago

I love and adore bees. I like to just sit outside with them and have them buzz around collecting pollen right next to me from all the flowers. They have never bothered me, because I respect them and they know it. I pick them up off the street and bring them to flowers, with my bare hands, and have never been stung. They can sense your intentions.

Ulane Vuorio
Ulane V.2 years ago

Good advice,thanks for sharing.