Bee Sting Treatment Guide

Hornets, wasps, bees, and yellow jackets are often feared for their stings, and it is important to know how to treat stings properly, because some people have very extreme allergic reactions to these stings. Reactions vary from person to person, but treatment is the same for any of these stinging insects. 

How to Treat Bee, Wasp, Hornet & Yellow Jacket Stings

So you want to know what to do for a bee sting? Well, bee stings, wasp stings, hornet stings, and yellow jacket stings produce similar mild reactions in most people. These include mild itching irritation, redness, swelling near the sting site, and pain. 

Follow these methods to treat bee stings:

  • Remove stinger: With bee sting treatment, you may have to remove the bee’s stinger. The stinger continues to inject poison for a minute, even when the stinger is separated from the bee. Never pinch or pull stinger out with fingers, because this can push more venom into the skin. Instead, scrape the stinger out with a flat object, like the edge of a butter knife or credit card.
  • Control swelling:  If you experience a sting, swelling will most likely occur near the sting; the whole hand can become swollen if the finger is bitten. Apply ice or cold water to reduce swelling. Elevate if stung on an extremity, and remove any tight fitting jewelry. 
  • Treat itching and pain: Take an over the counter pain medication, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If itching persists, an antihistamine can help reduce this. Applying a paste of baking soda and water, a paste of meat tenderizer (the enzymes in the tenderizer that break down meat proteins help to break down the proteins in the venom), calamine lotion, and topical steroids like hydrocortisone cream can all help with itch and pain reduction.
  • Stings can take a few days to heal; keep it clean to avoid infection.

Extreme allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)

Sometimes, people have very strong, dangerous allergic reactions to bee, wasp, hornet, and yellow jacket stings. These reactions can be so severe that they can sometimes, if not given attention, cause death. A few in a thousand people will have this severe reaction. These reactions include: breathing problems, swelling of lips and throat, swelling away from sting site, faintness, confusion, rapid heartbeat, hives, and nausea. If you or someone else is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. If you or someone else has a history of anaphylaxis – even if they are not exhibiting any of the above symptoms – seek immediate medical attention or use a sting kit (with an epinephrine pen).


For products and information about controlling bees, please refer to our bee control, wasp & hornet control, and yellow jacket control pages.


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