If you spent much time outside as a kid, there’s a good chance a bee stung you once or twice. Even as an adult, a bee sting isn’t a pleasant experience. You may even be tempted to utter a four-letter word under your breath.
However, it can be a serious situation for those who are allergic to bees. So are bees deadly, and should you be concerned about them? Let’s look and see!
What Are the Odds of Getting Stung by a Bee?
While it may not seem like it, bees are often very docile creatures. Some bees don’t sting at all. According to Stern Environmental, a pest management company, the odds of experiencing a bee sting are one in six million.
However, your odds significantly increase during specific times of the year and depending on where you are.
Bees aren’t flying around looking to sting you. They’re buzzing around looking for food, and the last thing they want to do is to get into a battle with a creature exponentially larger than them.
However, if you’re in an area with plenty of flowers that need pollinating, look out for bees going about their business.
Are Bees Deadly?
Bee stings affect people very differently. A bee could sting someone, and that person, aside from the pain, will have minimal issues. However, another person could have severe complications from a bee sting.
Can bees sometimes kill people?
Absolutely. However, the odds are very slim that a bee will kill you. You’re more likely to die from the flu or lightning than from bees. If you have a serious allergy, you must carry the proper supplies to help keep you safe.
How Many Deaths Result From Bee Stings?
Deaths from bee stings are incredibly rare. From 2000 to 2017, there were 1,109 deaths from hornets, wasps, and bees.
This averages out to approximately 62 deaths per year. While the odds of dying from a bee are very low, there’s a 100% chance it will not feel good.
Can Bees Paralyze You?
Bees release a toxin called melittin when they sting. This venom can affect people in very different ways, up to paralysis of the nervous system. While the risks are extremely low, the worst cases could damage the critical cells that send and process signals in the brain.
While it would be an extremely rare situation, this could temporarily or permanently paralyze an individual.
What to Do When Stung by a Bee
Millions of people experience bee stings every year. Knowing what to do if it happens to you can help avoid a serious situation. If you or someone you know gets stung by a bee and has a serious allergic reaction, you should contact emergency services or get to the nearest emergency room as quickly as possible.
If there are no signs of a severe allergic reaction, there’s a good chance you can treat the sting yourself. However, if the bee leaves its stinger behind, you should remove it as soon as possible. Use a dull-edged object, like a credit card, to help get the stinger out of the skin. Once the stinger is out, clean the area with soap and water before applying a cool compress to the site. Using an antihistamine can help reduce swelling and itching.
Swelling is common when a bee stings, especially on the hands and feet. You’ll notice the skin may feel warm or extremely tender. If possible, it’s a good idea to elevate the sting site to minimize the chances of swelling. However, swelling can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days before it entirely disappears.
Why Do Beekeepers Not Get Stung?
While the last thing we’d recommend doing when it comes to bees is disturbing their hive, beekeepers do it all the time and rarely get stung. This is typically because beekeepers have a tremendous amount of experience working with bees and know how to keep them calm, such as with smoke.
Beekeepers also do suffer some amount of stings but have become desensitized to the effects over time. So while the bees may still sting from time to time, the bee keepers likely developed an increased level of helpful antibodies that prevent a severe reaction.
Do Bees Carry Bacteria?
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, none of the diseases that bees carry are infectious to humans. Bees can carry and transmit a variety of bacteria that can spread throughout their hive, but it will typically have no effects on humans.
However, just because you may not be at risk of catching a disease that a bee is carrying, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean the site of the sting. Make sure to clean the area with warm, soapy water. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping a wound clean.
How Do You Prevent a Bee Sting?
You can do a handful of things to avoid bee stings while out in nature. First off, you will want to avoid areas with an increased amount of flowering plants. Bees hang out in these areas as they buzz from flower to flower.
In addition, avoid using any strong scents. This includes lotions, scented soaps, and perfumes. These will attract bees to you and increase the chances of a bee sting. Your odds of bees checking you out are much higher if they find your smell appealing.
If a bee does start to buzz around you, stay calm. Avoid swatting or trying to hit it with a hat or other object. Slowly move away from the bee and avoid appearing threatening to the bee. If you do these things, you drastically reduce your chances of suffering a bee sting.
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