After I posted “How to get stung 22 times in one place,” many beekeepers and gardeners wrote in with suggestions for dressing bee stings. I decided to put all these remedies in one place, so people can find them.
This is a work in progress, so be sure to leave your favorite remedy in the comments.
- My personal favorite is cold water, mostly because I’m too impatient to do anything else. Some people like to add ice to keep down the swelling.
- Taking the opposite tack, beekeeper Harold uses hot water. He writes:
I place the part that was stung under the faucet. I start with warm water and slowly increase the temperature to as hot as I can stand, but not scalding. This method has three benefits. One the warming of the area increases blood flow spreading the venom away from the area. Two, the increase in temperature also denatures the protein that is in the venom. Three, the pores in the skin open up flushing out any contamination. The itch goes away and gives relief for most of the day. I repeat as needed.
- Danielle uses raw vegetables. She writes:
I use a garlic, onion, or potato. I cut it in half and rub the juice on the sting. It works.
- Art, who favors ammonia, writes:
As far as treatment of bee stings go, I find that using ammonia (like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Put some Windex on it!”) helps the symptoms to abate much faster. The way I understand it most of the organic poisons are acid based and ammonia is basic, thus neutralizing acid. The only caveat is that you have to apply it right away, which is not always practical.
- Brad of BingalingBees says:
I take baking soda type toothpaste (Pepsodent) into my yards with me for a quick smear after removing a stinger. Seems to help, takes the place of making a baking soda paste, which isn’t practical unless it’s your own back yard hives.
- Jonathon of Kansas says:
Mustard. Honey mustard is best. Rub it right in.
- Carolyn who, like me, has dropped a full box of bees writes:
[Remedies that] work well for me are dandelion sap and plantain (the kind from the lawn, not the banana type). For the dandelion sap, pick the flower—with a long stem—and let the sap well up. Dab the sap on the sting and immediate relief is noticed. The plantain is also a great remedy. Pick the leaves and either crush them by balling them and smooshing them with your fingers or zap them in the microwave for a moment and put the poultice on the sting. It works in a very similar manner as the dandelion cure.
- Karen says:
So many remedies! I keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a baggie of cotton balls in my bee box in the car. It works for me. I’ve also heard that you can use vinegar. But I haven’t tried it yet.
- Shawna, a four-year beekeeper, uses mud:
Mud that is cool, wet, and gritty feels devine!
- George from Pennsylvania uses a local secret:
The older people here use the leaves of the jewelweed plant. They roll the leaves in a tight ball until the juice flows and then rub it on the sting. It’s good for bumble bee stings and poison ivy, too.
That’s it for now . . . waiting to hear from you!