Disclaimer: The following article and experience completely disregards what anyone experiences if they are allergic or severely allergic to insect stings or bites. I am not allergic and therefore cannot account for those experiences. They should not in any way be taken lightly and if you or your child is allergic I recommended seeing or calling a professional immediately.
I’m a nature kid. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence in the woods. And in all my time outside, I’ve been stung by a bee one time until now. First time I was sitting in the grass. It was my fault-I could accept that. I sat down and squished the poor thing with my legs. So if I were a bee, I would have stung me too. I remember that at first it hurt and the pain was a little shocking. But it hurt a LOT more once I saw that I had a bee hanging from my leg, and the realization that I had been stung. I did the usual thing an 8 year old would do. I ran around screaming until my mom helped settle me down.
In my memory, I was overreacting. Sure it hurt, but it wasn’t really that bad. That’s hindsight, and as humans we have a habit of amnesia when it comes to pain. Childbirth, think about it…. This is the purpose of this article. To put us in touch with what our children are experiencing when a bee stings them, because in our minds, yes it’s sad to see them hurting, but they must be overreacting.
The second time I was stung by a bee had nothing to do with being an outdoorsy person, and it is from this account that I documented the real deal in real time. So if one day a bee should sting my daughter, I would have a real and unbiased record of how she might be feeling. You know, empathy. I was taking my car for a routine oil change when I felt something in my hair. I reached to brush it away, and cue needle. Initially it was sharp and burning. Shocking but no doubt I had been stung. I felt an adrenaline rush feeling in my finger where I was stung and the surrounding areas. Up to 30 minutes later it was still painful to the touch at the site of the sting and surrounding area and that burning sensation remained. It was slightly swollen and tight feeling as the skin stiffened. By this time I was home, and remembered a natural remedy I had heard about. A forager once showed me a weed called the Common Plantain, that if chewed would take away pain from a bee sting. I was actually psyched to try it.
I quickly found the plantain weed (Plantago major) in my yard, because it is super easy to find and grows almost anywhere. I grabbed a couple leaves, chewed on them, and put it directly on the sting. The pain relief was immediate and I was able to touch the sensitive area. What?? It was awesome and made my sting experience complete. Note: Though I did not use ice, I think it would have felt good and brought the swelling down as well.
Lessons of the day:
1. Don’t assume your child is overreacting, it does actually really hurt and the pain is long lasting.
2. Be sure the stinger isn’t still in your skin. If it is, you need to remove it. Scraping a credit card against the skin works really well and painlessly. If you use tweezers be aware that if you squeeze the venom sac causing more venom to release into your skin which would cause more pain. It is possible to grab it out just below the venom sac to avoid this.
3. If you are using the plantain method remedy be sure no fertilizers have been used before you willingly put it into your mouth and chew it to a pulp.
4. Do not be afraid to spend time outdoors. Leave bees and wasps alone. Fight the urge and do not swat at them when they are near you. I have only been stung twice in my life and I spend a LOT of time outdoors. Both times I was stung, were times when I made an aggressive move against the bee.