Bumble bees are considered cute and have even been commercialized with cute bumble bee costumes for Halloween and school plays. But how cute are they? Unlike honey bees which are slender with a pointed tip on the abdomen and little to no hair, bumble bees are wider and fuzzier in comparison. Despite their cuter appearance bumble bees do sting if they feel threatened. The stinging is usually done by the worker bees and their queen in protection of the colony. Drone bees do not sting since they don’t have stingers.
How to treat a bumble bee sting
Because the bumble bee stinger doesn’t have a barb it can keep stinging repeatedly without hurting itself or leaving the stinger in your flesh. These bees do not leave behind a venom sac so their stings are distinctly much more bearable compared to Africanized honey bee, domestic honey bees and even wasp stings. But make no mistake the bumble bee also leaves behind some venom which is why its sting stings (pun intended).
Treatment is easy if you have no adverse reaction to bee stings. Clean the site of the sting with soap and water. Dry it and apply an ice pack or cold compress to ease the pain and reduce the swelling. Take some pain relief medicine as needed. Remove the compress/ice pack and apply some hydrocortisone cream to lessen the itching, swelling and redness. Get a tetanus shot if it has been over ten years since your last one. The wound can get infected with tetanus bacteria.
With the bumble sting, since the bee doesn’t have a venom sack in its barb it holds far less venom which can be neutralized using vinegar. Just soak some cotton balls into apple cider vinegar and place it on the sting site then apply a bit of pressure. The acidity in the vinegar neutralizes the bee’s venom making it more bearable.
How does your body cope with a bee sting?
The first thin your body does is react to the venom released into your system by the stinger. These are the typical symptoms you experience ranging from swelling, itchiness, redness, pain and discomfort. You will probably continue to experience these localized reaction for a few hours after which they will begin to dissipate. For some people the symptoms go away after three days as the body flushes the toxins out. Also, the body washed the sting site with blood that flushes out the venom.
For people who are allergic to bee stings even a sting from a bumble bee can cause you to go into anaphylactic shock because there is some venom involved as well. So make sure you have epinephrine handy as this is the primary first aid medication for anaphylaxis. It prevents the adverse life threatening symptoms that accompany any bee or wasp sting including difficulty breathing, hypotension, and shock.
If you have a rash all over the body but no difficulty breathing you will be given an antihistamine for the sting. Bumble bees may be cute but they are still bees.