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Todays lesson: What not to do & what a normal bee sting reaction looks like


I thought I would share what a normal reaction to bee stings looks like… Today as it is too windy to paint some more hives, and as it is a public holiday (not working today) I thought I might catch up on some gardening and decided to whipper snip around the beehives as the grass was starting to get a bit too high at the hive entrances. Well the feral hives didn’t agree with my plan and proceeded to let me know how much they disagreed…

10 stings total:
3 on left hand,
5 on the right hand (closest to the motor),
and 2 through my pants on my rear end… :smile: blush:

Suffice to say I left the area in due haste (after i finished getting the job done :wink: )

So on a cold, windy day, even though it’s nice and sunny, with a cold front moving in - don’t use machinery around your hives… I did note however that my domestic bees (italians, caucasians, carniolans) left me alone, but the ferals piled out of the hives to get me! lol

Note: These show a normal reaction to bee stings, if you get a reaction somewhere else on your body (where you weren’t stung) or you’re having trouble breathing - immediately seek medical help!

The trick is, remove the stinger as soon as possible by scraping it off using a fingernail or hive tool, don’t pinch it to get it out as that will just inject more venom…

The burning sensation only lasts for 30 to 90 seconds, to help reduce swelling you can take antihistamines (such as claratyne). I don’t bother any more…

Left hand, 10 minutes after getting stung:

Left hand, 45 minutes after getting stung:

Right hand, 90 minutes after getting stung, red, hot to touch and swelling. (3 stings to top of hand, 2 under hand at base of thumb):

Happy to share my pain so others can learn - I often hear that people are allergic to bee stings, when I ask if they have trouble breathing (anaphylaxis) or they get a large rash elsewhere on their body and they respond “no, just some swelling where I got stung” - I respond that they’re not allergic, that’s just a normal reaction :smiley:


The Bunyip Beekeeper

Anaphylaxis and Bee Sting Allergies

I would have never known this or believe this until Saturday. I was at Texas Beekeeping Association summer class. And this was a tidbit passed on by a master beekeeper that was teaching one of the beginner classes.

What he described was as soon as you get stung, use your hive tool and just scrape off the stinger. This does a couple of things one, it prevents additional poison going into your hand, apparently there is additional poison that could enter if you should pinch it out. The 2nd thing and I think the most important one, is if you leave the stinger in it sends a signal to many other bees saying this person or this thing is bad sting it now.

All these little tidbits are going to be hard to learn, certainly valuable.


yes, venom keeps pumping for about a minute and when the stinger is ripped out, other bees can smell it and hone in on that location!


Bee stings make me swell up like that too. Only it takes 3 days for the swelling to go away!


Swelling is all gone for me (less than 24 hours) - but its still a bit itchy :wink:


I wish!

Last sting I got during the amazing Midnight Bee Caper was under the arch of my foot. It hurt to walk for a week.

That stunk.


Most beekeepers have a story about getting nailed! They often start with cold cloudy day, rain and cutting the grass. I was walking around my hive with bare feet and stepped on one the other day. Serves me right!


I have a lot of other stories getting whopped bad when doing cut outs etc, but im usually too busy/covered in honey to be able to stop and take photos :wink:


I get serum sickness from bee stings. So my worst reaction is about a week later. The area will swell up and cause a lot of discomfort. I’ve read a lot about it, because I was worried that the next sting would cause anaphylaxis. I got an Epi pen from my doctor, just in case. There doesn’t have to be a progression from serum sickness to more severe allergy reactions, but I want to be safe.


What does serum sickness look like? My stings (I have had a few) get progressively more swollen day by day till about 3-4 days in. Then they bruise like crazy. Doctors all agree that it’s a “bad” reaction (not an allergy and not an infection) and typically put me on prednisone, and advil/aspirin trading off every few hours while applying ice as much as possible.

This is a pic 5 days after a sting on my thigh. The swollen red is about 6-7" in diameter and the purple bruise about 2" in diameter. The doctors all recommend that I find a new hobby, but I carry an epi-pen and have never needed it.


Ah you poor thing - looks angry and sore!

I also heartily endorse the liberal application of ice for several reasons:

  1. Cheap and effective
  2. Slows the inflammatory response by your body = faster recovery
  3. Dulls the pain

Just remember:

Wrap the ice (or bag of frozen peas) in a damp cloth - protect your skin from getting an ice burn (cryogenic burn). Not cool!

Apply ice no longer than 10 mins ‘on’. Then have 10 mins ‘off’ < important!

Any full body rash or swelling/tightening of your throat/airway - get help from the pro’s FAST.



ouch, I guess I am lucky that I only get a small red welt for a few hours. That looks painful.


I was stung on the palm of my hand a few weeks ago, when bees had swarmed, some were covering a path and I moved them so they wouldn’t be squished. A couple of hours after I’d been stung I had several bees on my hand, they didn’t try to sting me but I noticed that my hand began to throb and ache where I’d been stung previously, once the bees had gone my hand stopped hurting, this happened a few more times over the next few days. Peculiar…?


I started growing Winter Savoury (Satureja montana) near my hives as I read that rubbing the leaves onto a bee sting will help. I was doing a harvest on the weekend and was tagged on the arm (through the suit) and got to try this out.

Guess what, it actually works! Provided instant relief.

As an added bonus, the plant provides abundant flowers that are attractive to bees, and is also fairly handy in the kitchen.


Allergic reaction (per ER doc) after being stung on top of my head.


So i’ve heard of people getting more “immune” to the stings as they progress in beekeeping. Mine itch like crazy and the swelling goes away in three days. Have any of you seen less reaction as you get stung more?


I just got stung behind the ear :unamused:
I was behind the hive not doing anything threatening even.
The girls have disliked me ever since the oxalic acid vaporization treatments.


Maybe the one that stung you just got stuck in your hair & panicked…and don’t worry, by end of summer there won’t be any bees with memories of the Vape Incident :wink:


I’d like to think it was an accident and she was just caught in my hair, thing is, I’m bald.
Yep, they know I’m the dude that keeps sticking the hot thing into their hive.


That is assuming bees do not pass on some sort of “hive memory”. I’m not sure if any research has been done on it but I may have to take up part of my day on google with the idea lol.