Natural Home Remedies for Bee Stings

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Spring is here, which means April showers, May flowers and buzzing bees. If this last one brings on a sense of apprehension, just relax. If you don’t suffer from bee allergies, bee stings can easily be treated.

bee on green flower 
Bee stings can easily be treated at home with a few natural remedies. Photo By Arnold Lane/Courtesy Flickr.  

When a bee stings, it injects a barbed stinger and a venom sac into the skin. Immediate removal of the stinger and the venom sac can prevent futher pain and swelling. The best method for removing the stinger is to scrape the stinger out with a credit card or longish fingernail. If you try to pull the stinger out, you will likely break the sac, releasing more venom and making the sting feel worse. And remember, hands off! Although you may want to scratch the sting, this can increase swelling (and therefore pain), as well as increase your chances of infection. Treat your bee sting at home with these natural remedies.

Honey: Folk lore says that if you’re stung by a bee, treat it with honey! Honey’s antibacterial properties will prevent the sting from getting infected.

Baking soda: Bee stings contain formic acid, so applying a paste of alkaline baking soda and water helps to neutralize the sting and its side effects. (If you’re suffering from a wasp sting, which is more alkaline, apply vinegar, which contains acetic acid, to the sting instead.)         

Toothpaste: Although it might sting at first, applying toothpaste to the stung area can help neutralize the pain. Like baking soda, toothpaste contains alkaline ingredients that neutralize the venom in the sting.

Meat tenderizer: This kitchen-cupboard cure contains an ingredient called papain that breaks down the proteins found in bee venom.

Calendula: Applying calendula cream to the stung area can reduce swelling and itching. Because calendula has antiseptic properties, it can also help prevent infection.

Ice: This cheap and easy natural remedy numbs the pain and reduces swelling. Although it seems like the most simple, it’s probably the most effective—and you’re probably more likely to find ice than the other remedies if you’re on-the-go!

calendula flowers 
Cream made from calendula can soothe bee stings and prevent infections. Photo By buttersweet/Courtesy Flickr. 

How to Avoid Bee Stings 

For the most part, if you don’t bother the bees, they won’t bother you. Bees will warn you if they’re agitated by flying around your head and even bouncing off of you. Take a hint from the bees—and to prevent any stings, keep these tips in mind.

• Avoid wearing bright clothing. Bees are attracted to bright colors, especially floral prints. Opt instead for light-colored clothing.

• Remain a respectful distance from the hive.

• Avoid wearing perfume or using heavily-scented personal care products such as soaps, shampoos and deodorants. (It’s also wise to pass on banana-scented products.)

• If you are stung by a bee, leave the area. Bees release a pheromone when they sting that alerts other bees of danger. Once you’re stung, it’s likely that other bees will show up.

If you are allergic to bees, seek out emergency care if stung.