Updated: Jul 13, 2021
At some point during your beekeeping, you will get stung. It happens. You will not avoid it, but there are several things you can do to help minimize your chances of getting stung and making sure it is as painless as possible. I have handled millions of bees at this point and I have only been stung about twelve times.
Know if you are allergic to bees. I do not recommend beekeeping if you are allergic. The risk is too great. Know if you are allergic to bees or not before you begin beekeeping.
Come to terms with the fact that you will get stung sometimes. It is not as painful as you think. If you are afraid then your motions will be nervous and unsure. This will excite the bees and make them more prone to sting you.
Wear your veil at least. Your remaining clothes should be baggy. This will keep a bee from stinging you through your clothes. Bees are more aggressive towards darker colors so keep your clothing light colored or white. Make sure your clothes have minimal openings. You don’t want a bee crawling in a sleeve or up a pant leg.
Smoke your bees thoroughly. This keeps the bees from sending out alarm pheromones and keeps them calm. Even if you are just doing a quick peek to check on them, smoke them.
When You Get Stung
Don’t Panic. Don’t jump and drop your equipment. You don’t want to drop a frame, a box, your smoker, or something else that will excite the bees. Smoke the spot where you were stung. When a bee stings, it releases an alarm pheromone that attracts more bees to start stinging. A few quick puffs on the site of the sting prevents this from getting worse.
Step away from the hive. Get a good distance away so you can remove any clothing necessary to see the site of the sting. If the stinger is still stuck in your skin, scrape the stinger out with your fingernail or other sharp edge. Don’t pinch the stinger to grab it. This will squeeze the attached venom sack and release more venom into your skin. Smoke the area again, get dressed and get back to work. There will be some tenderness and some swelling. You are fine. Swelling doesn’t mean you are allergic. But if you do feel light headed, take a break and sit down until the feeling passes. You don’t want to faint in the bee yard. If the sting is hitting you this hard, I would recommend looking into a medicine to help. I take Benadryl, it helps me with the reaction. If you have trouble breathing or your tongue swells enough it starts to be hard to breathe you may be having a severe reaction. If you know you are 100% not allergic you can usually wait it out if it is just
a headache or feeling faint. Stay sitting down in a comfortable position. But if your airway is becoming restricted, get to a hospital. No need to be a hero. Stay calm and realize for most people a sting is not life threatening. The first few times a sting happens
will be scary, but eventually it will be nothing you worry about. It will be no worse than dealing with a splinter from handling wood.