While it is true that the Western, or European honeybees can deliver a painful sting, they may not deserve the bad reputation that they have. Honeybees normally sting when they are defending their nest. Honeybees that are away from the nest are either migrating or gathering pollen or nectar. Normally, these bees will only sting if they are provoked.
The Africanized honeybees defend their nest more aggressively than Western honeybees do. Africanized bees also respond in greater numbers than Western honeybees do. A person is more likely to receive multiple stings from a colony of Africanized bees than a colony of Western bees.
A honeybee worker's stinger is located at the back of the body – on the tip of the abdomen. Unlike wasps, the honeybee's stinger has a small barb, like the point of a fishhook. When the honeybee stings a person, the stinger usually stays embedded in the victim's skin. The honeybee can only sting one time.
After stinging a person, the honeybee flies away, but the stinger and venom sac stay in the victim's skin. The muscles on the venom sac continue to squeeze the sac, injecting venom. It is important to remove the stinger as quickly as possible.
Experts recommend using caution when removing the stinger. Use a blade, a card, or something sturdy. Scrape the blade over the skin to dislodge the stinger. Pinching the stinger will cause the venom sac to inject more venom into the victim.
Honeybee stings usually cause pain at the site for a few minutes. There is often itching and swelling that lasts for a few hours. Sting victims should avoid scratching. Experts recommend washing the site with soap and water. A cold compress can reduce the swelling and slow the spread of the venom. An antiseptic can help prevent infection if the victim scratches. .
A bee sting victim should be observed closely. Some people are allergic to insect venom. The allergic reactions can be delayed for an hour or more. If a sting victim shows signs of allergic reaction, he or she should be taken for medical attention. If a person has received multiple stings, it may be necessary to contact Emergency Medical Services.