Home Pests and diseases Treating bee and wasp stings

Treating bee and wasp stings

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Bee on chive
Bee on chive

It’s the season to be stung

Bee on Campanula carpatica
Bee on Campanula carpatica

One downside of encouraging bees to visit your garden is the risk of getting stung.

This last happened to me while deadheading a sunflower.

I couldn’t tell you what type of bee it was but it was not happy with me getting rid of its nectar source.

I didn’t see it happen – just felt the searing pain in my hand. There was an entry wound at the base of my finger, but no venom sac.

Some bees can sting multiple times – it depends on whether they have barbed stingers or not.

Print out this article and pin it up in your shed, or on a kitchen or bathroom door – the quickest place you’ll head for after you’ve been stung.

You’ll know immediately what to do and not have to faff about looking things up on the internet when your hand is pulsating like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon!

Bear in mind, there are many treatments out there – this is what worked for me.

If symptoms worsen, or a reaction develops, see your doctor.


Bee stings

Dahlia
Dahlia with water-resistant bee
  1. Immediately remove sting and venom sac if it has been left in the skin. Scrape it out with fingernails or a bank card. DO NOT pull it out with your fingertips or puncture the venomous sac.
  2. Wash the area with soap and water.
  3. Place an ice pack (frozen peas in a towel) on the sting for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Cover sting site with toothpaste. Replace after five hours.
  5. Take Ibuprofen or paracetamol if needed.
  6. If an allergic reaction occurs (rash, hoarseness, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, a fast heart rate, dizziness or feeling faint, difficulty swallowing, a swollen face or mouth, confusion, anxiety or agitation.) CALL 999 IMMEDIATELY.

Wasp stings

Wasp on flowering ivy in October
Wasp on flowering ivy in October
  1. Wash the affected area with soap and water.
  2. Place an ice pack on the sting for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Take Ibuprofen or paracetamol if needed to kill the pain.
  4. NHS Choices advises avoiding ‘traditional’ remedies such as vinegar or bicarbonate of soda, saying ‘they’re unlikely to help’.
  5. If an allergic reaction occurs (rash, hoarseness, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, a fast heart rate, dizziness or feeling faint, difficulty swallowing, a swollen face or mouth, confusion, anxiety or agitation.) CALL 999 IMMEDIATELY.
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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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