Bee stings can be quite painful and capable of triggering allergic reactions in some individuals. It is important to note that bee stings occur after exposure. Generally, most species are passive but will sting if disturbed or provoked. A few species have been reported to be highly aggressive while protecting their hives.
The bee venom or apitoxin is considered acidic in nature and usually include a combination of proteins. Some of the honeybee species release certain chemicals known as pheromones while stinging which incite other bees to sting. Remember that these chemicals could not be easily wiped off or washed which results to a continuous attack.
What are the signs?
The indications of bee stings are based on whether there are a few or several as well as the type of reaction that arises.
At the site of the sting:
- Burning sensation and immediate piercing pain that can be severe
- Redness and swelling of the skin
- Inflammation of the skin widens in a few days
If the site of the stings were scratched, it increases the risk for infection.
Other signs that might be present include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramping
- Low blood pressure
In case a severe allergic reaction occurs, the following might be present:
- Hives or flushing of the skin
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen lips, mouth, tongue and throat that can lead to difficulty with speaking and swallowing
- Loss of consciousness and collapse
If there are multiple bee stings from a swam of bees, it can result to serious symptoms particularly those with some underlying heart conditions, young children and the elderly. In such instances, immediate medical care is important.
Management of bee stings
Transfer the individual away from the site of exposure to the bees.
- If the individual is allergic to the bee venom and carrying an auto-injectable epinephrine, a shot must be given right away.
- Remove the bee stinger with tweezers. Make sure that the end of the stinger is not pinched since this will inject more venom into the body.
- In case there are several stingers present, scrape them off using a firm, blunt and straight-edged object such as a plastic card.
- Cleanse the site of the bee stings using water and soap.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected area for 10 minutes and allow the skin with a break for 10 minutes. Repeat this process several times throughout the day.
- An antihistamine can be given to prevent an allergic reaction for mild cases.
- Monitor for any indications of infection.
Disclaimer / More Information
The information posted on this page on bee stings is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to care for this type of insect bite, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.