Usually my Eastern Washington home is still covered in permafrost by now but after an unusually warm winter I just noticed a few fat bumblebees roaming the fields around here. On the way back up the hill I spied a few wasps making a new nest over by the neighbors chicken coop. We ended them real quick. Last year another neighbor lost a horse to a wasp attack so they will never be welcome out here.
That did get me to thinking though. What should you do if you are attacked by bees or wasps? Not to mention that there are now reports of the Africanized killer bees up here now. Here is what the USDA has to say.
What should you do? Get in a car and get out of there now. Unlike other bees, the killer bees will pursue their target for up to a mile, maybe more. That is a really ridiculous distance for bee defense, and is what earned these bees their nickname. If such escape is impossible, here is what the United States Department of Agriculture recommends:
1. RUN away quickly. Do not stop to help others. However, small children and the disabled may need some assistance
2. As you are running, pull your shirt up over your head to protect your face, but make sure it does not slow your progress. This will help keep the bees from targeting the sensitive areas around your head and eyes.
3. Continue to RUN. Do not stop running until you reach shelter, such as a vehicle or building. A few bees may follow you indoors. However, if you run to a well-lit area, the bees will tend to become confused and fly to windows. Do not jump into water! The bees will wait for you to come up for air. If you are trapped for some reason, cover up with blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, or whatever else is immediately available.
4. Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees emit a smell that will attract more bees.
5. Once you have reached shelter or have outrun the bees, remove all stingers. When a honey bees stings, it leaves its stinger in the skin. This kills the honey bee so it can’t sting again, but it also means that venom continues to enter into the wound for a short time.
6. Do not pull stingers out with tweezers or your fingers. This will only squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape the stinger out sideways using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.
7. If you see someone being attacked by bees, encourage them to run away or seek shelter. Do not attempt to rescue them yourself. Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack. The emergency response personnel in your area have probably been trained to handle bee attacks.
8. If you have been stung more than 15 times, or are feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention immediately. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight. This means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1100 stings.”
15 Bee Sting Home Remedies & Tips
Getting stung by a bee is no fun and the pain can last for a few hours, here are a bunch of home remedies for pain relief as well as some interesting tips and bits of info.
First make sure the stinger is removed (look for a black spot in the bite area), do this immediately as it can reduce the amount of venom released into the body.
At one time it was thought that you had to scrape it out (with something like a blunt knife or plastic edge) but you can effectively use tweezers to pull it out.
Wash the area with soap and water then try a remedy or treatment below for pain relief. Technically it’s a sting but I used bite below to describe the injured area.
- Make a paste of meat tenderizer and water or baking soda and water–apply to bite.
- Sprinkle generously with baking soda then drizzle some drops of vinegar over the baking soda to make it fizz. Leave on skin until pain is gone.
- Cover with a dot of mustard.
- Slather on a thick paste made of meat tenderizer and vinegar.
- Cover with honey and reapply as needed for pain.
- Dab with a generous amount of toothpaste and leave on the wound.
- Use ice or an ice pack.
- Soak in Epsom salt and water or make paste with it.
- Slather on Aloe Vera.
- Chew a plantain leaf then apply the macerated leaf.
- Crush fresh parsley and apply.
- Crush fresh basil leaves and apply.
- Drizzle apple cider vinegar over it.
- Cover with a slice of fresh papaya.
- Dab on a bit of deodorant.
A normal reaction is to experience pain and itchiness, redness and swelling. Pain will last for a few hours then should disappear.
If the following occurs, seek medical advice:
- If it stung inside your nose or mouth (the swelling will affect breathing).
- If you were stung several times by many bees.
- If you have difficulty breathing or your breathing seems to have been affected.
- Your tongue begins to swell.
- You experience dizziness.
- You experience blurry vision.
- You feel nauseous.
- Your speech is slurred or you find it difficult to talk.
- Hives or a rash appears (especially in an area away from the wound).
- The wound swells alarmingly large.
If the reaction seems severe (especially if breathing is affected), don’t hesitate to call medical emergency services as the victim may be experiencing an allergic reaction that can trigger anaphylactic shock.
Simple logic: To avoid being stung, avoid attracting them. Bright clothing, fragrances from hair sprays, perfumes and cosmetic products as well as sweet foods like soda pop, fruits and syrups can attract them.
If you don’t appear to be aggressive or startle them–chances are they won’t bother you. If one lands on you or is near you, hold still until it loses interest and flies away. Rapid movement and swatting will signal them that you’re ready for a fight so if you’re going to scream with arms flailing–make sure you outrun it ;).
- Tip: If one lands on you, blowing gently on it will help convince it that it’s time to move along.
Did you know: Pickings are slim in the Fall when bees are busy looking for flowers, fruits and plants that haven’t yet died off or harvested for the season. When you’re wearing bright clothing and smelling pretty while much of the vegetation they depend on are gone, it might think he hit the jackpot with the largest, loveliest flower of all (you).
Why Do They Die After Stinging?
The stinger is torn from its body and left in the victim’s skin (it’s the tool that releases the venom). It basically disembowels the poor critter and it cannot survive. Because of this, they will only attack when they feel a threat (to themselves, their hive or to the queen bee).
Even though they can be intimidating, they are very much needed to help our plants and flowers flourish (and to make delicious honey for us to enjoy).
Please Note: None of the information above is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it’s provided for general knowledge purposes only.
Copyright 2015 Snohomish County Reporter