Shield your self in opposition to bees and different stinging bugs | by Washington State Division of Well being | Public Well being Connection | Aug, 2021


Summer is the season for many beautiful things. Gardening, playing outside, barbecuing in the garden and just enjoying long northwest summer days. It’s also the time of year for bees, wasps, and other biting and stinging insects.

Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus and are most active around dusk, but some bite during the day, especially in shady areas. It is easy to reduce the risk of being bitten by a mosquito by eliminating mosquito habitat in your home and garden. It’s also good to wear pants and long sleeved shirts and use mosquito repellants at dusk.

While most bees and hornets focus on foraging for food, if they feel threatened, they will defend themselves or their nests by stinging. Although most bees typically sting only once, wasps and hornets can sting multiple times.

Reactions to insect bites can range from minor to potentially fatal. In most cases, bee stings and other stings are only slightly bothersome and cause brief, stabbing pain with slight swelling and redness. However, if you are allergic to bees or are stung multiple times, a more severe reaction may require immediate medical attention. An allergic reaction to a bee or wasp sting triggers the body’s release of histamine and other chemicals that can cause severe reactions, such as:

  • Itching and hives all over the body
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Stomach cramps and diarrhea
  • Rapid drop in blood pressure leading to shock and, in some cases, loss of consciousness

Anyone with any of the above symptoms should See a doctor immediately!

If you are stung by a honey bee, quickly remove the stinger by wiping the area with cheesecloth or scratching the stinger with a fingernail. Never squeeze the stinger or use tweezers as this can cause more venom to be released.

Wash the puncture site with soap and water after each stitch. If you see redness, warmth, or swelling around the bite, apply a cold compress and take over-the-counter antihistamines (such as Benadryl).

The following tips can help you reduce the risk of a sting.

  • Be careful when drinking sweet drinks outside. Check cans and straws before drinking from them.
  • Keep food and drinks covered or under umbrellas when eating outdoors.
  • Cover food containers and trash cans tightly.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes when you go outside.
  • Avoid wearing bright colors or floral prints.
  • Avoid scented perfumes, colognes, lotions, or hair products.
  • Avoid wearing baggy clothing that can trap stinging insects between the cloth and your skin.
  • Use caution when mowing the lawn or trimming around your home. These activities can disrupt a hornet or yellow vest nest.
  • If you see bees or wasps flying around, keep calm and walk away slowly. Hitting a bee or wasp can cause it to sting.

If you think you have had an allergic reaction to a bee, wasp or hornet sting, you should talk to your doctor about prevention and treatment options.

For more information on bees, stinging insects and other summer pests, visit:

The information on this blog is changing rapidly. Sign up to be notified when we publish new articles.