Friday, September 24, 2021
HomeStoriesIn the Event of a Bee Sting when Riding Your Bike

In the Event of a Bee Sting when Riding Your Bike

We cyclists have a fair amount of skin exposed so here's some things to consider if you suffer a bee sting when riding your bike.


We lost Andreas Kappes, to a bee sting. Sad news, indeed, to lose one’s life because of a seemingly innocuous event. One wonders how many people are unaware that they would have such an adverse reaction and whether you might consider it worthwhile doing a follow-up piece on how to deal with a bee sting. After all, we cyclists have a fair amount of skin exposed, so here’s some things to consider if you suffer a bee sting when riding your bike, writes our reader, Bill Danson.

Bee Sting when Riding Your Bike

I haven’t found any mention in print of the kind of bee that stung Andreas but as regards the common honey bee, I offer the following information I learned from attending a beekeeping course run by the late Ted Hooper, author of the standard reference book, “Guide to Bees and Honey“. Of course, you may already be aware of all of this.

The honey bee normally encountered in the open air is a female, the larger males (drones) just hang around the hive waiting in case a new queen should emerge in order to mate with her.

If the female feels threatened her instinct is to sting. A typical instance, especially for beekeepers, is if she lands unnoticed on one’s arm on the inside of the elbow and the arm is then bent, trapping the bee. Unless the beekeeping suit being worn is made of suitable material a sting will be felt.

A bee can sting humans only once because the barbs on the sting prevent it from being withdrawn and the bee will die because as it flies away, the sting, together with the attached muscles and venom sac are ripped out of its body and remain in the skin – and this is the crux of the matter; left untouched the muscles remain flexing, driving the sting deeper and pumping more venom into the body.

If the person stung tries to remove the sting by pulling it out, the venom sac will be compressed by the fingers trying to pull the sting out, thus pumping all the venom into the body.

What one should do as soon as possible is scrape the sting out using eg. a long finger nail, the edge of a credit card or knife, held at an angle like a razor shaving. Get someone else to do it if the sting is unreachable to oneself.

If one thinks that a bee has flown into one’s hair, the thing to do is squash it immediately by a smack of the hand. The bee has barbs on its legs which are there to pick up pollen as it crawls over the stamens of flowers to get to nectar but these barbs prevent the bee from extricating itself from our hair and it will consequently feel threatened and begin stinging. It will soon reach one’s scalp where the sting will be inflicted. It is possible to remove the bee with a comb but who carries one of those on a bike ride these days?

A tip fellow cyclists gave me when I lived in Alicante was if I got stung whilst riding by the orange groves, take some of the dark red soil from the grove, mix it with some saliva and rub it on the site of the sting to alleviate the pain and irritation. It happened just once but I tried the remedy and it seemed to work. However, there was no sting embedded in my skin so it seemed I only got a flick of it.

I once rode with my son along the side of a nearby valley when the orange trees were in full bloom and for half a kilometer we rode through thousands of foraging bees going to and fro from their hives on the mountainside to the trees in the valley. We kept our mouths shut and trusted the bees ability to navigate around us and didn’t get stung.

Previous articleAndreas Kappes
Next articleArmand de las Cuevas
Bill Danson
Although Bill has ridden bikes since he was six years old, he didn’t join a club or race until he was 32. A self-confessed "run-of-the-mill Third Cat", Bill only competed occasionally because his weekends were already taken up with other activities but he loved every minute of the races he did ride, on the road, in TT’s and at Eastway.

Related Articles

Whats going on, David McLean?

It’s been a while since David McLean posted, he intended to do something a little more regularly but unfortunately he's been preoccupied with health problems for much longer than expected.

At Random

Commonwealth Games 2014 – Track, Day Three

Australia had another great day at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome, collecting another five medals to add to the previous two days haul of ten, putting them top of the cycling table with six more than any other country. For the second day in a row, the Men's Para Tandem provided one of the most memorable moments. This time it was the Sprint competition and again it was the Scottish pair of Neil Fachie and Craig MacLean, winning the final two-matches-to-one and celebrating with their families whilst the crowd joined in singing to them, who brought the proceedings to a halt.

Alan Hewitt

I wasn’t privileged enough to call Alan Hewitt a close friend but he was certainly a pal and on the infrequent – unfortunately for me - occasions I met him in recent years he would always greet me as a long lost brother with that smile, a hearty chuckle and a big, strong handshake. Alas, there’ll be no more of those.

World Road Race Championship 2007 – Day 4: Espoirs Road Race

It was warm today at the World Road Race Championship 2007. It's a cliche, but what a difference nice weather makes. The ladies race was on first: I have to rant, I'm afraid. What is Jeanie Longo doing? What is the French Federation doing? What is the UCI doing? It's not good for the sport for a woman who looks about 60 to finish in the bunch; she's a remarkable athlete, no doubt. But that's not the point, it's time to stop, Jeanie. Now! OK, I feel better now.

You’re One Terrific Pursuit Rider, Filippo Ganna!

I have been hard on the Filippo Ganna, putting in print that perhaps he would never rank among the all-time gallacticos of pursuiting, but the big Italian is proving me wrong so I thought I’d go back and look at the man’s career from day one to where he is now; that’s one of the best chrono men and the best pursuit rider on the planet.

Copenhagen Six Day 2019 – Nights Four, Five and Six

Just about everyone – except us – was late to the track on Sunday afternoon for the Copenhagen Six Day 2019; no surprise after a late Friday, early Saturday then late Saturday. There was a definite lethargic vibe in the cabins not helped by us losing Achim to a bad throat – he came in to see the doctor and organiser but looked terrible and Kris took him back to the hotel.

Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Championship 2015 – Peter Murdoch Takes Gold

On a windswept day for the strong of leg and heart on the Ayrshire coast it was last year's silver medallist, 'fresh' from that toughest of races, the RAS, Peter Murdoch (Neon-Velo Cycling Team) who's 52:13 was 22 seconds too quick for deposed reigning champion, Iain Grant (Fullarton Wheelers) and 49 seconds faster than bronze medallist and another former '25' champion, Arthur Doyle (Dooleys).