Beekeeping: How to Handle Bees That Bite

Beekeeping is a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, but it also comes with its own risks, such as the risk of being stung by bees. While most beekeepers are able to enjoy their hobby without being stung, there may be times when bees that bite become an issue. If this happens, it is important to know how to avoid bee bites and deal with them if they occur. In this article, we will discuss how to avoid bee bites while beekeeping, as well as how to handle bees that bite.

Bees That Bite

Bees That Bite

Types of Bees That Bite

Bees that are likely to bite include the Africanized honey bee, European honey bee, and yellow jacket. The Africanized honey bee is the most aggressive and is known for its high propensity to attack. The European honey bee is a less aggressive species, but can still sting if provoked. Yellow jackets are more likely to sting than other types of bees, and their stings can cause more severe reactions.

Why Do Bees Bite?

Bees bite in defense of their hive or territory. They may also sting if they feel threatened or if they are disturbed while foraging. Wearing protective clothing and taking precautions when working with bees can help reduce the chances of being bitten.

Additionally, bees can become agitated if there is an imbalance in their environment. Factors such as overcrowding, inadequate food sources, or the presence of predators can cause them to become more aggressive. It is important to monitor the bee population and take steps to ensure their environment is conducive to their health and well-being.

Ultimately, avoiding bee bites while beekeeping requires knowledge of the types of bees that bite, understanding of why they bite, and taking precautions to protect yourself. By being aware of the potential risks and taking the necessary safety measures, you can prevent bee bites and ensure your safety while beekeeping.

What Does a Bee Stinger Look Like?

What Does A Bee Stinger Look Like?

A honey bee stinger looks like a small sharp spear, approximately 1/10 of an inch long. It is made of two serrated barbs connected to a venom sac. This makes it easy for the bee to penetrate the skin and deliver its venom. When a bee stings, the venom sac and stinger are left behind in the skin. If a bee stings a human, the stinger will stay in the skin and continue to pump venom until it’s removed. In other words, do honey bees sting or bite? The answer is yes, they sting.

What Happens When a Bee Stings or Bites?

What Happens When A Bee Stings Or Bites?

When a bee stings or bites, they inject venom into their victims. This venom can cause a range of reactions from mild to severe. Depending on the individual’s sensitivity to bee venom and the number of stings, the response can range from localized pain and swelling to anaphylactic shock.

  • Pain and Swelling: When a bee stings, it injects venom through its stinger into the skin. The venom causes an immediate, sharp pain and swelling at the site of the sting. The swelling may spread to the surrounding area.
  • Allergic Reaction: Some people are allergic to bee venom and may have a strong reaction to the stings. This reaction can range from a rash and difficulty breathing to anaphylaxis — a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
  • Venom Toxicity: The venom of a bee sting is poisonous and can be toxic to humans in large doses. Multiple bee stings can lead to an accumulation of venom in the body and cause a wide range of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and even death.
  • Infection: If a bee sting is not properly treated, it can become infected. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, and warmth at the site, as well as pus or fluid draining from the wound.

It is important to take all bee stings seriously, even if it is just a single sting. Seek medical attention if you experience any of the above symptoms or if the sting site becomes infected. Treating a bee sting quickly and properly can help prevent further complications.

How to Avoid Bee Bites?

How To Avoid Bee Bites?

Protective Gear

When beekeeping, it is important to wear protective gear to reduce the risk of bee stings. A beekeeper should always wear a bee suit, gloves, and a bee veil. The bee suit should be made of thick material that is not easily penetrated by bee stingers. The gloves should be thick enough to protect against stings. The bee veil should be a mesh material that allows the beekeeper to see without getting stung.

Tips to Avoid Getting Bitten

Bee stings can be painful and can cause allergic reactions. To reduce the risk of being stung, it is important to know what a stinger looks like from a bee and to take precautions when handling bees. It is also important to move slowly and calmly around the hive and to not make any sudden movements that may startle the bees. When handling the hive, it is important to wear thick gloves and to keep the hands and arms away from the bees. If a bee does land on the skin, it is important not to swat at it as this may agitate the bee and cause it to sting.

How to Treat a Bee Bite or Sting?

How To Treat A Bee Bite Or Sting?

If a bee does leave a stinger in you, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. Scrape off the stinger using your fingernail or the edge of a credit card. Don’t pinch the stinger, as it can cause the venom to spread.

Wash the affected area with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. Apply a cold compress or an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain. Over-the-counter antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream can help reduce itching and inflammation.

For more severe reactions, such as a swollen throat, difficulty breathing, or a loss of consciousness, seek medical attention immediately. An EpiPen may be necessary if the individual is allergic to bee stings.

The amount of pain and swelling associated with bee stings may vary from person to person. Bee stings can cause serious allergic reactions in some people, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

If you’re concerned about the risk of a bee sting, speak to your doctor about allergy testing and options for allergy shots.

What Bees Leave Stingers in You?

Bees have barbed stingers that will leave a stinger in your skin if you get stung. A bee sting can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected area. Depending on your sensitivity to bee venom, the reaction may be mild or more severe.

The Stinger

The stinger consists of two parts: a venom sac and a barbed shaft. The venom sac contains the venom and the barbed shaft is designed to get stuck in the skin.

Removing the Stinger

The stinger should be removed as soon as possible to avoid further damage from the venom. Scraping the stinger away with a fingernail or the edge of a credit card is usually the most effective way to remove it. If the stinger is left in place, it can continue to release venom, causing discomfort and swelling.


Once the stinger has been removed, the area should be washed with soap and water and a cold compress can be applied to reduce swelling. Over-the-counter antihistamines and topical creams may be used to reduce the itching and discomfort associated with a bee sting. If the reaction is severe, seek medical attention immediately.

Table: Symptoms of Bee Sting Allergy

HivesItchy, red, raised bumps on the skin.
SwellingSwelling of the face, tongue, throat, or other parts of the body.
Difficulty breathingTightness in the chest, wheezing, or shortness of breath.
NauseaFeeling of sickness or discomfort in the stomach.
DizzinessLightheadedness or loss of balance.
AnaphylaxisA severe, potentially life-threatening reaction.

If you experience any of these symptoms after a bee sting, seek medical attention immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I get stung by a bee?

  • Remove the stinger: The first step is to remove the stinger from the skin. To do this, use a flat object like a credit card or a blunt knife to scrape the stinger away from the skin.
  • Apply a cold compress: Apply a cold compress, like a cold cloth or ice pack, to the sting area. This will help reduce the swelling and pain.
  • Take an antihistamine: To reduce the pain and itching, take an antihistamine such as Benadryl. Follow the instructions on the packaging for the correct dosage.
  • Clean the area: Clean the area with soap and water to remove any lingering venom and prevent infection.
  • Seek medical attention: If you experience severe swelling, difficulty breathing, or an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.

Are There Ways to Identify a Bee That Is Likely to Sting?

Yes. Bees that are more likely to sting have a darker, more velvety appearance and may be more aggressive in their behavior. They may also be more likely to swarm or hover around the hive, and may be quicker to fly away from the hive when disturbed. Additionally, bees that are more likely to sting may have a yellow or orange-colored abdomen.

How Often Should I Check My Beekeeping Equipment for Signs of Damage or Wear?

It is important to regularly inspect your beekeeping equipment to ensure it is in good condition and free from damage or wear. Check for worn or broken parts, loose screws, frayed wires, and other signs of damage. Inspect the frames and foundation for signs of damage and replace any that are damaged. Be sure to also check the hive entrance for signs of pest damage. Additionally, check the bee suits and gloves for any holes or tears that may expose your skin to bee stings.

How Can I Tell the Difference Between a Bee Sting and a Wasp Sting?

Bee stings feel like a sharp, sudden pain, while wasp stings are more like a burning sensation. Bee stings are usually larger and more swollen than wasp stings. The venom from a bee sting is usually neutralized by scraping away the stinger, while wasp stings may require additional treatment. Bee stings often leave a small white dot at the center of the sting, while wasp stings are more likely to have a larger, red welt.

What Protective Clothing Should I Wear When Beekeeping?

When beekeeping, it is important to wear protective clothing to prevent bee stings. This includes a hat, veil, long-sleeved shirt, gloves, and long pants. The hat and veil should fit snugly to prevent bees from entering the clothing. The shirt and pants should be tightly woven to prevent bee stings from penetrating. Gloves should be made of leather or another durable material. Additionally, light-colored clothing should be worn, as bees are attracted to dark colors.


Bee stings can be painful and can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. The best way to avoid bee bites while beekeeping is to wear protective clothing and to use a smoker to calm the bees. If a bee does sting you, use a cold compress or anti-itch cream to soothe the area. Seek medical attention if you experience a severe reaction or if you are stung multiple times.


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