I always found it a bit sad and poetic how the honeybee dies when she stings, that is until I got stung, in which case, "karma's a b***h." But, now, as bee populations are on the scary decline, threatening food as we know it, I am back on her side, looking at each bee as vital to the way our world functions. We need to protect ourselves from bee stings, of course (and especially if you're allergic!), but it's also important to do our part to keep bees alive, so that they can thrive. And we can eat.
Prevent A Sting
Put away your traps, your sprays, your noxious chemicals and your swatters. Killing bees is not the way to prevent them from stinging you. You know what is: Chilling out.
If you are a Cesar Millan fan (and who isn't?), you'll get this: Bees can sense your fear. They are more likely to sting a person who is afraid of them than someone who faces them boldly and has no fear. Try faking that you aren't phased and see how it goes. Pay bees no mind and be sure not to panic. If a bee has entered your personal space, be still and cover your face, where most bees are likely to sting. After a little exploration, the bee should be on its way. If this sounds simply impossible, here are some things you can do to keep bees disinterested with you:
1. Don't leave out any food scraps.
2. Make sure you're clean. Bees can get a little agitated at the scent of human sweat. But, they also are attracted to heavy fragrance, especially anything banana related.
3. Bees are drawn to bright colors, so stay on the light side in terms of clothing.
4. Steer clear of flowering plants, where bees spend the majority of their time doing what they do: Pollinating.
If You Get Stung
The most important thing to do is get that stinger out as soon as possible. If handy, take a credit card and scrape off the stinger, for some say that pulling or squeezing out the stinger will cause more venom to be released. But just getting it out fast is crucial.
Then, you'll want to wash out the sting with soap and water to avoid the possibility of an infection.
I have been stung eleven times in my life (I think that's a lot!). In my experience, over-the-counter remedies made from harmful unnatural ingredients work no better than a few simple home remedies. This is what I do:
1. Ice it - numb that pain away!
2. These two kitchen staples seem to be panaceas in the natural remedy department: Baking soda and vinegar. You can make a paste with baking soda to apply to the sting. If, on the other hand, you've been stung by a wasp, apply vinegar to soothe the sting.
3. And another household item that seems to have endless uses: Toothpaste. A little dab can soothe while breaking down the venom.
For those of you who are allergic to bees, you know that a bee sting can certainly be a life or death situation. Hopefully, you carry a medical kit around with you and know to call for prompt medical care. If you or someone you know has been stung and the swelling begins to spread and breathing becomes impaired, these can be signs of an allergic reaction. Don't waste time in seeking help. Seriously. But for most of us, just not making too big a deal out of a bee sting is the best remedy there is.
image: Horia Varlan