Removing a bee stinger isn’t rocket science. So long as you don’t panic, removing a stinger is easy. Here’s what you should do if you’re ever stung.
How to Remove a Bee Stinger
There are various ways to remove a bee stinger. It’s really a matter of what you have at hand, and what’s easiest for you in the heat of the moment. The method doesn’t matter so much as the speed at which you pull the stinger out. Don’t rush it, but remember that the longer you take, the more it will hurt.
Step One: Make Sure You’re Safe
Although it’s important to remove the stinger quickly, it’s more important that you get yourself to safety. If you have been stung in a place you can see and reach easily (like your wrist, for example), go ahead to the next steps.
If you’re struggling, however, don’t spend too much time trying to get the stinger out. Honeybees release an alarm pheromone when they sting, and it calls nearby bees to attack. You’re at risk of being stung again—by a swarm, which is even more dangerous.
You’ll have to gauge if you have time to pull the stinger out, or if you should rather run for cover. If you’re unsure, I’d recommend taking cover first. So long as you’re not having severe symptoms, and aren’t allergic to bee venom, you’ll have time to tend to the sting later.
It won’t be as easy—and could even be life-threatening—if more bees come to sting you.
Step Two: Get the Stinger Out
Contrary to popular belief, there is no right way to pull a stinger out of your skin. You might have been told that you’re not supposed to squeeze a stinger, as it will release more venom. Maybe you’ve heard that scraping it out hurts less.
Neither is true. There is no evidence to suggest that one method trumps others. As mentioned, all that matters is that you get the stinger out as quickly as possible.
This means that there are a number of ways you can get a bee stinger out of your skin. If you are stung, you can try the following:
- Pinch it and pull the stinger out with your fingers.
- Brush the stinger off of your skin with your hand.
- Use a bank card, library card, or something similar to scrape the stinger out.
- Use any piece of sturdy paper (even folded, or rolled up paper money) to push it out.
- If you have tweezers handy, you can use them to pull the stinger out.
- If you have one handy, use a bee sting extractor kit.
- You can even use other small, blunt objects like guitar picks, water bottle caps, or whatever you have handy to push or scrape the stinger out.
So long as you don’t hurt yourself more in the process, the method you use won’t make a difference. If you’re feeling primitive, you can even bite it out, though that might not be the most pleasant way of going about this.
Step Three: Attend to the Sting
Once you have removed the stinger, you should clean it as soon as you can. The simplest way to do this is to wash it with ordinary soap and water.
Once it’s clean, you can apply a remedy of your choice to reduce the swelling, irritation or pain. There are a number of viable solutions that you can try, from baking soda paste to medicinal creams or painkillers.
How to Remove Multiple Bee Stingers
Multiple stings are tricky to deal with because the venom in such an attack is enough to cause a severe and even deadly reaction. This applies to everyone, not just those who are allergic.
You have to treat multiple stings as an emergency and seek medical assistance immediately. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you remove the stingers, especially if you’re struggling to reach them.
There is also an even greater need to get the stingers out, but you might find yourself between a rock and a hard place.
If you’ve received multiple stings, more are sure to come. Some swarms of bees can have tens of thousands of bees in them. There have been reports of people being fatally stung up to 1000 times in a single event.
Your best bet when facing a swarm (or even a potential one) is to take cover somewhere that the bees won’t be able to get to you, or run. Bees will chase you for up to half a mile, but it’s possible to escape swarms this way if all else fails.
What If There Is No Stinger?
If you can’t see any stinger in your skin, it means that you weren’t stung by a honeybee. Don’t believe the stories that the stinger would’ve been injected under your skin. It’s impossible and untrue.
Honeybees are the only bees who have barbed stingers, so they’re the only bees who leave their stingers behind. If it looks like you’ve been stung, but there’s no stinger to remove, you should still make an effort to clean it and manage it.
Removing bee stingers is not so much a matter of method as it is a matter of speed. The longer the stingers stay in your body, the more intense your symptoms will be. It’s a dangerous myth that you can’t squeeze them out. If it works for you, do it.
Attending to your sting once the stinger has been removed is also effortless. It’s only a matter of keeping the area clean and doing what you can to reduce pain. If you’re having a severe reaction, or have been stung multiple times, get prompt help. Also, consider that honeybees could attack in a swarm, and you’ll have to get yourself to safety.