The Worst Place to Get Stung By a Bee

Where would it hurt more to get stung by a bee: on a testicle or on a nostril? It was this burning question that led Michael Smith, a graduate student at Cornell University studying honeybees, to his latest research.

After being stung on the testicle and realizing it didn’t hurt as much as one might think it would, Smith decided to use himself as the subject of an experiment with the goal of charting the worst places to get stung by a bee. The most painful, according to National Geographic, in descending order: the nostril, upper lip, and penis. The least painful: the skull, the upper arm, and the tip of the middle toe.

Smith’s methods sound pretty awful: He gave himself five stings a day for 38 days, ultimately stinging 25 body parts multiple times.

“Some locations required the use of a mirror and an erect posture during stinging (eg, buttocks),” he wrote in his amusing paper on the matter. He rated the painfulness of each sting on a scale from 1 to 10, and found that all of them were somewhat painful, though none of them ranked a 10 (the nostril was scored as a 9. “When you get stung there, your whole body reacts,” Smith explains to the BBC).

One body part he didn’t test: the eye. “When I talked to [my advisor], he was concerned that I might go blind,” Smith explains. “I wanted to keep my eyes.Ē As for why some body parts experience more painful stings than others? Sorry, but it’s not clear. (Last month, a California woman was stung 1,000 times, and survived.)

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Photo credit: flickr,†kokogiak


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

My vote is for facial area: Nostril, lip, eye areas. Because they are closer to the brain...

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

Michael Smith must be completely nuts! Why in the world would anyone get stung intentionally??

j g.
.3 years ago

STUPID!!............... Missed the spot that counts....his BRAIN!!!!

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

I hope he did it without federal funding of our tax dollars. I think some of these "experiments" should never be done. This was a very dangerous one. I wonder if he has developed an allergy now that all those poor bees had to give their lives.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you :)

Anne K.
Anne K3 years ago

Thank you!

Walter Firth
Walter F3 years ago

I've been stung on an eyelid I rate that ten out of ten Ten minutes after being stung I looked as if I had had a bout with Joe Frazier.

william Miller
william Miller3 years ago

is that worse than the tongue? that made me cry and my tongue swelled up huge! I will take your word for it.

Lynn C.
Lynn C3 years ago