Bee Stings + Pain Free Remedies

19 September 2018  
Bee stings happen. Here’s what to do.
  • Remedies to reduce bee sting pain.
  • “Reading” bees to prevent stings.
  • Pull out the stinger when stung.
  • Easing pain of a bee’s sting.

Because we're gardeners and work around many flowers it's bound to happen: a bee stings us. Coincidentally, although it had been several years since any of us Lains had been stung, just last week Lisa took a hit during an encounter.

Sometimes it isn't the gardener who gets stung but the gardener’s kid or grandchild, and it helps to know beforehand what you can slap onto the sting site to ease the pain.

To be clear, it's honeybees that sting with impressive dedication. Male honeybees are the guys who sacrifice themselves by making that one committed sting and then dying. Their 'all in' attitude is their destiny. Not so with wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, as these guys are capable of stinging over and over again!

A warning shot - Bees communicate if you are willing to “read” them. More times than not a bee will bump into you, and show aggressive action before stinging. I simply give him his space and allow him to refocus his attention back to pollinating flowers.

What to do immediately - The first thing that needs to be done when treating a bee sting is to look for the stinger. If there's one still attached, quickly scrape it out with your fingernail. If you take a good look at the stinger, you'll see that the hind end of the bee is still attached. It’s the hind end that contains the sac that contains that wicked venom. The longer you wait to remove the hind end, you can actually watch the sac pumping more venom into the skin . . . ouch! That even was hard to write!

Hot water reduces the pain. Wash the sting area with soap and hot water before applying any natural remedy. This helps ward off bacteria that could cause an infection.

Natural Bee Sting Remedies

The pain and swelling remedy that works for one person may not do much for another, so I’ve compiled a short list of remedies that some gardener friends and I have found effective. The majority of these applications can be found in the garden or average household, but you may want to purchase a couple of them specifically to have handy during the growing season.

Lavender essential oils - Just a drop on the sting site is all you need. The essential oils in the lavender neutralize the venom immediately.

Baking soda and water - This has been around forever, but it’s a favorite. Mix the baking soda and water to form a thick paste then slather it onto the skin. Don’t wash it off.

Basil - Crushed basil leaves are said to be extremely effective for pain caused by stings.

Garlic - This is quite popular with gardeners and touted as one of the best for the pain of a sting. Crush a garlic clove to release its juices and press it against the sting.

Peanut butter - Some gardeners swear by peanut butter on the sting site as highly effective.

Photo by PiccoloNamek

Plantain (Plantago) -Plantain is a common weed that has medicinal properties that are good for soothing bee stings. It makes itself at home almost everywhere, but whether you can find it around your home or not will depend on how obsessed you are with your yard or garden.

To use plantain as a bee sting treatment, chew up some of the leaves to release their juices or firmly roll them between your thumb and fingers. Then press the juicy leaves against the sting.

Calendula flowers - Prepare the blooms by crushing enough to get a good juice content and apply to the sting site.

Bee Balm - Prepare the leaves the same way as plantain.

Onion - Cut an onion in half and press the cut side, the juicy part, on the sting.

Photo by Colin

Honey - How ironic is this? It seems only fitting that if the bees have the sting they also have the cure. Simply pour some honey on the affected site.

Photo by Andreas Praefcke

Parsley - Crush parsley to really get the juices flowing and apply over the sting.

Photo by Tharish

Apis Mellifica - Are you ready for more irony? Apis Mellifica is a homeopathic remedy that is made from whole bees! It works wonders on stings from all kinds of critters, including fire ants. There are different potencies and dosages so if you purchase some, carefully follow the directions on the label.

Most of these natural remedies call for crushing or mixing ingredients, so it might not be a bad idea to invest in a mortar and pestle. A mortar and pestle is used for crushing. It’s a small marble, stone, or wooden bowl with a little marble club-like thing that looks like it belonged to cave people.

Until next week, I'll see you at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .

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Gardening Classes

Sept 22 – Fruit Trees – Health and Harvest 

Fruit trees not only beautify our landscapes, they give us actual food to eat! This class focuses on which varieties are the best for our community, how to care for them, and how to get your best bounty ever. We'll take you season by season through the year-round practices that produce results for the best health and biggest harvest you've ever had.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

Sept 29 – Planting for Success in our Mountain Soil 

We've planted thousands of plants throughout northern Arizona, and now we're going to share our secrets with YOU. Watters' Planting Manager, Ella Amos, gets her hands dirty every day planting new landscapes for our wonderful customers. Years of planting success and the knowledge she's gained through her experience make Ella the perfect Guest Instructor for this class. She'll share the techniques and trade secrets she's learned to help you be a smarter, savvier, more successful gardener.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

October 6 –   Irrigation in the Waterwise Landscape

Irrigation systems can confound even the most experienced gardeners! Learn the benefits of drip irrigation, the best emitters and parts, and how to set a system up or add to it.   With the right system, you can save water and have healthier plants at the same time.   Students will also learn which plants are considered “waterwise,” and how to grow a beautiful landscape while saving our most precious resource – water!  

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

Oct 13 – Top Trees for Fall and All  

Privacy, shade, color, evergreen, and blooms – trees are the foundation of the landscape! With so many choices, picking the perfect tree can seem overwhelming, but not after this class. Students will learn which trees are best for their garden wish list, and which can provide stunning, year-round interest when planted together. Our horticultural team will be on-hand after the class to help with individual tree situations. 

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

Oct 20 – Container Designs – Easy as 1-2-3  

The fall plants have arrived, and this is the month to transition from summer blooming flowers to winter hardy pansy, viola, mums, kale, dusty miller and more.   Expect inspirational color from your container gardens right through the holiday season to come. Students learn the best soils, foods and flowers that keep on blooming.   Bring your empty containers and experts will be on hand after the class to help personalize your style.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

Oct 27 – Winter Wellness – How to Keep Plants Healthy in Winter 

Which plants need to be brought inside for winter? What's the best way to keep them healthy when they're brought inside? How do I protect the plants in my garden from frost? Do I have to water in winter?   We'll answer all these questions and more in this winter preparedness class. Learn the best practices for helping your plants through the chilly winter months so they can be at their best in Spring.

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.

Nov 3 – Fall ‘To-do‘ list for a Healthy Yard 

Get the most out of your landscape with this easy to use checklist of fall care.   Bring the color out of your fall gardens, reduce bugs next spring, or simply put your landscape to bed with these easy to use ideas.  

If you can't attend this class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Page to be notified when we go Live.



Editor’s Note: Some of the images shown here may be published under Creative Commons licensing. Images were possibly altered to accommodate the article. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder and Editor of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She asks a lot of questions! In her spare time, she loves photography, cooking and hanging out with her family.