National Geographic

The Worst Places To Get Stung By A Bee: Nostril, Lip, Penis

It started when a honeybee flew up Michael Smith’s shorts and stung him in the testicles.

Smith is a graduate student at Cornell University, who studies the behaviour and evolution of honeybees. In this line of work, stings are a common and inevitable hazard. “If you’re wearing shorts and doing bee work, a bee can get up there easily,” he says. “But I was really surprised that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.”

That got him thinking: Where’s the worst place on the body to get stung?

Everyone who works with stinging insects has their own answers, but Smith couldn’t find any hard data. Even Justin Schmidt was no help. Schmidt is the famous creator of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index—a scale that measures the painfulness of insect stings using wonderful synaesthetic descriptions that almost read like wine-tasting notes. Wine-tasting notes of agony.

According to Schmidt’s index, the sweat bee sting (1 on a scale of 0 to 4) feels like “a tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm”. The yellowjacket sting (2) is “hot and smoky, almost irreverent; imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.” And the daddy of stinging insects—the bullet ant (4+)—produces “pure, intense, brilliant pain, like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel.”

Schmidt recognised that “pain levels from particular stings do, of course, vary and depend on such features as where the sting occurred (…)”, but he didn’t say how these levels vary by body part.

So, Smith decided to find out. His experimental subject: himself.

As he writes in his new paper (which, incidentally, is deadpan gold): “Cornell University’s Human Research Protection Program does not have a policy regarding researcher self-experimentation, so this research was not subject to review from their offices. The methods do not conflict with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, revised in 1983. The author was the only person stung, was aware of all associated risks therein, gave his consent, and is aware that these results will be made public.”

Smith was methodical. He collected bees by grabbing their wings “haphazardly with forceps” and pressing them against the body part of choice. He left the stinger there for a full minute before removing it, and then rated his pain on a scale of 1 to 10.  Pain is very hard to measure, but psychological studies have found that numerical scales do a decent job of putting numbers on an inherently subjective experience.

He administered five stings a day, always between 9 and 10am, and always starting and ending with “test stings” on his forearm to calibrate the ratings. He kept this up for 38 days, stinging himself three times each on 25 different body parts. “Some locations required the use of a mirror and an erect posture during stinging (e.g., buttocks),” he wrote. If you are chuckling at the image of a man twisting around in front of a mirror to apply an agitated bee to his butt, I assure you that you are not alone.

Smith's pain map. Scales are from 1 to 10.

Smith’s pain map. The scale is from 1 to 10.

“All the stings induced pain in the author,” Smith writes. The least painful locations were the skull, upper arm, and tip of the middle toe (all averaging 2.3). “Getting stung on the top of the skull was like having an egg smashed on your head. The pain is there, but then it goes away.”

The most painful sites were the penis shaft (7.3), upper lip (8.7) and nostril (9.0). “It’s electric and pulsating,” he Smith. “Especially the nose. Your body really reacts. You’re sneezing and wheezing and snot is just dribbling out. Getting stung in the nose is a whole-body experience.”

“Erm, but the penis?” I venture.

“It’s painful, and there’s definitely no crossing of wires of pleasure and pain down there,” he says. “But if you’re stung in the nose and penis, you’re going to want more stings to the penis over the nose, if you’re forced to choose.”

Was there any point in the experiment when he thought: Hey, maybe I shouldn’t sting myself in the nose and/or penis?

“By the time I got round to the third round, I thought: I really don’t want to do my nose again,” he says. “I had originally had the eye on the list, but when I talked to [my advisor Tom Seeley], he was concerned that I might go blind. I wanted to keep my eyes.”

There are some interesting nuggets here. We might expect that the most painful places to get stung are the sites that have the thinnest skin or that are served by the most sensory neurons. But neither factor cleanly explains the results. For example, palm with its thick skin hurt much more than the thin-skinned arm or skull. And the upper lip hurt much more than the middle finger, even though both are served by similar numbers of neurons. A pain map of the body would probably look very different to a purely sensory one.

Now, clearly, these data are very subjective, and they all come from one person. Smith is clear that his anatomy of pain can’t be generalised to everyone else. “If someone else did this, they’d probably have different locations that they felt were worst”, he says, although from talking to his colleagues, he feels that the rough shape of the map would be similar.

“I didn’t see a lot of merit in repeating this with more subjects,” he says.

Any takers?

Reference: Smith. 2014. Honey bee sting pain index by body location. PeerJ. http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.338

There are 119 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Antonio
    April 3, 2014

    I will like to see a video of the author smashing a raw egg on his skull

  2. Zach Miller
    April 3, 2014

    Oh, the things we do in the name of science.

    I’ll avoid wearing shorts around bee hives, that’s for sure.

  3. Penny
    April 3, 2014

    i was stung on the lower eyelid, near the tear duct. I’d say it was 5.3.

  4. I. Jaye Sunsurn
    April 3, 2014

    While I understand the nature of the experiment but a similar sort of experience could have been achieved through electrolysis (esthetic electrolysis for hair removal not industrial electrolysis) which I used to be trained in. The areas I have found are pretty bad for pain all occurred along the centre line of the human body, especially along the Philtrum (the indentation above your upper lip). But anywhere along the centre line it is more intense than it is the further away from it. Or so I have experienced anecdotally (I understand that’s not empirical data, but it does allow for an interesting line of scientific inquiry).

  5. Bob Roach
    April 3, 2014

    I can’t help but think of Bill Murray’s dental patient character in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.

    That diagram would be a little gold mine for like-minded masochists.

    I understand that bee venom has been tested as a treatment for arthritis. I wonder if its effectiveness is also effected by injection location? And I wonder if anyone’s tested the bullet ant for this use?

    There’s also a recent story of the Australian cone snail venom being studied as a treatment for chronic pain disorders.

    Maybe the big picture lesson is that we should never under-estimate the value to humanity of living things we either care or know so little about.

  6. deadguy
    April 3, 2014

    No, because z=3.

  7. Cat
    April 3, 2014

    I was stung on the lower lip by a wasp. I’d rate that a solid 6. The good news is the pain subsides in a few hours.

  8. E. W.
    April 3, 2014

    Having been breifly* stung by a honeybee on my nipple last year, I’m pleased to see the roughly “7″ marker for the area. I had radiating pain up what I assume were the nerves of my breast** for the next 20 minutes. I have to wonder if the pain map would be substantially different for a woman?

    *As soon as I noticed the sting I pulled my shirt away from my body and between that and my brassiere the stinger was only in contact with me for a moment.
    ** I almost wrote “bosom” but then I decided to be a grown-up.

  9. Chloe
    April 3, 2014

    “Science”. An enjoyable read, though.

  10. Michael Smith
    April 3, 2014

    My name is also Michael Smith. Just wanted to let you know that it was “not” me that allowed myself to be stung on the penis in the name of science. lol

  11. Sandeep
    April 3, 2014

    Write, the things people would do for science. Haven’t read the paper but I wonder how he accounts for the “anticipatory” nerves that may affect pain grading…

  12. JM
    April 3, 2014

    You get the best quotes.

    I’ve read that for females receiving a so-called Brazilian bikini wax, the part the hurts most is the area right over the pubic bone. Not what one would expect considering the many nerves in more interior regions. I wonder if these anecdotes add some support to the ‘body midline’ hypothesis. I wonder if women would have similar results.

  13. richard martyniak
    April 3, 2014

    oh,ed,ed,ed. I’m away for a couple years and my return is heralded by this article??
    I’m an entomologist who worked primarily with stinging insects. Rumour is that new recruita would under go a sting on their pee-pees as a first test. I’ve been stung plenty from my toes to my beltline. only after about 100 do i get really pissy. I agree with the nose pain. Swelling occurs quickly and can damage the cartilage, leaving permanent effects.

    I;d disagree with the scalp numbers, as stings in the frontal half hurt like the dickens. Worse than a steriotactic fram being drilled into one’s skull!

  14. Ross Marks
    April 4, 2014

    How many scientists peer reviewed the paper and confirm the method used?

  15. Beekeeper
    April 4, 2014

    As a beekeeper, I have to say that stings on the skull are the worst. 8.0

  16. M.U.
    April 4, 2014

    I doubt these results are robust considering he only used himself as a subject.

  17. Jessica
    April 4, 2014

    I have thankfully only ever been stung once, by a yellow jacket, on the back of the knee. Definitely not a pleasant experience, but it was over in a day or so. However, the pain scale on the nose makes sense to me from having cavities filled at the dentist. If you need work done on the front upper teeth, the nerves that feed those go up through your nostrils, so a Novocain shot is required into the inside of your upper lip where it joins the gum. That area is shockingly sensitive, and the pain of a needle there is excruciating, far worse than any other area of the mouth (the lower gums, while unpleasant, are mild in comparison). So while this research didn’t find a strong correlation between nerve density and pain level, I wonder if it is true for that particular area of the body.

  18. JohnR
    April 4, 2014

    Interesting point, Jessica, and as I’ve noticed before, the question that gets answered spawns dozens more, on an almost fractally narrowing focus. I’ve been stung many times by both Honeybees and Yellowjackets, and for me the wasp sting is initially far more intense and (at least under the shorts) excruciating than the bee. On the other hand, the one Bombus sting I got was by far the worst (it, on the thumb, was more painful than the Polistes sting I once got on the lower lip). Of course, it turns out that I may be a bit allergic, but the swelling was impressive, and the lingering pain took hours to ease. Wasp stings, I find, tend to ease up sooner, though, and get itchy after a few hours, even when you’ve hit a Yellowjacket nest and have 20-30 stings. Bee stings seem to stay painful for longer. I’m sure someone must have done comparative venom analyses – I wonder if there’s some sort of Cox2 analog involved?

  19. Tom Kitchen
    April 4, 2014

    Bee venom is a neurotoxin is it not? Also when a Bee stings the poison sack is torn out and left behind to drain its contents, Where as Yellow Jackets jab and take off not leaving any extra venom to continue causing discomfort.

  20. Kevin
    April 4, 2014

    Am a Beekeper and took a honey bee sting in the upper lip last summer. Will agree very painful. Face was swollen for 3 days. Worst I’ve ever experienced so far.

  21. StephS
    April 4, 2014

    My husband is a beekeeper. He’s been stung on the tip of his nose and it hardly bothered him. He also is not largely bothered when they sting his hands either. It hurts but goes away quickly for him. I’ve been stung on the scalp and the hand. The hand hurt for weeks but it was a low, deep pain. The head was searing and brutal. The sting on the head was the more recent and the one in which I discovered an allergy to bees. So, I don’t know if my pain was just from the sting or if it was increased by the onset of anaphylaxis.

  22. David Henderson
    April 4, 2014

    A number of years ago I was on my bicycle about 4 miles from home when a bee stung the edge of my eye lid. My first thought was, how will I get home safely in traffic if the eye swells badly. I made it home easily, put ice on it for a while and made it to work on time. Two weeks later (The day before vacation) my eye swelled so bad that I looked like Quasimoto. A trip to the emergency room and prednisone were needed. I had delayed reaction hypersensitivity. The doctor said this is common in stings on mucus membranes.

  23. Becky
    April 4, 2014

    I have been stung by a honeybee on my upper eyelid 6.5, a wasp inside my lower lip 8, and on my wrist 3.5. The lip was rough!

  24. Robert C Brooke
    April 4, 2014

    i imagine being stung inside the mouth would be painful. Many years ago(circa 1966),my family was on a picnic.My oldest brother was talking when a bumblebee flew into his mouth and he swallowed it.He had a stricken look on his face.

  25. pearldolphin
    April 5, 2014

    I was stung in the left eye around 6 years of age, I didn’t go blind, but boy I still could recall the whole scenario 30 years later… and think I rather had stepped or sat – stinger up -on it (done that too).

  26. Nicole
    April 5, 2014

    Well, from personal experience, getting stung in the eye is pretty painful… surprised that’s not on the diagram! Haha.

  27. Amanda
    April 5, 2014

    I’ve been stung on the ear and finger. Getting my ears pierced was an interesting experience when the piercer told me that being pierced felt a bee sting. Try telling that to a girl who has been stung exactly where that needle is going. For the record, the piercing hurt less in my opinion. The piercing was one short pain, the sting was more throbbing.

    I agree with putting the finger at a 6.7 and the ear at a 5.3. It did hurt more on my finger if I recall correctly.

  28. Snuffy
    April 5, 2014

    I notice that Mr Smith had not tested the head of his penis, deferring instead to test the shaft. This demonstrates the difference between experimentation that is foolhardy, and that which is suicidal.

  29. Peter L Borst
    April 5, 2014

    Good to see some worthwhile research being done. But just one quibble, as a beekeeper I would say you need to add two data points to your set. Bee sting to the eyelid (not cornea, could be blinding), and — under the fingernail, that’s a must have.

    Pete

  30. steve
    April 5, 2014

    I was riding a motorcycle and a bee went into my mouth and stung me on the back of the tongue. My tongue swelled up immediately and nearly died because I couldn’t breath. Thankfully there was a cop who happened along, found me laying on the road and did an emergency tracheotomy using a packet knife and the tube of a ball point pen.

  31. Yllaria
    April 5, 2014

    Am I the only one who thought, “only one subject?” followed by “if there were an ap, this could be crowdsourced”? I mean, birders have aps with maps for sightings. This could work the same way.

  32. Geoff Krayon
    April 5, 2014

    (S)ave (T)he (B)ees!

  33. Brad Courneya
    April 5, 2014

    You left out the tongue. ! Experienced that one and the pain was quite intense lol

  34. Grinch
    April 5, 2014

    I can’t imagine a worse place to get stung than the glans.

  35. grinch
    April 5, 2014

    I really think this study needs more subjects. When I took martial arts classes, one thing we were taught was to pinch the skin of the tricep because there are a lot of nerves in the center. It is extremely painful for me, but there were some students in the class that it had no effect on them. Same could apply to various bee sting locations.

  36. Andy Norris
    April 5, 2014

    Very interesting. I’ve noticed some of the same conclusions with tattoos. Some places just hurt a lot more, and there’s no real reason why. Not sure I wasn’t to try a tattoo on the penis, though.

  37. Duane
    April 6, 2014

    I can just imagine the agony Pooh Bear endures…

  38. SaveEm
    April 6, 2014

    Almost 200 bees killed for this…meanwhile the world is experiencing a catastrophic loss of bees. Considering this isn’t for any reason but to satisfy a curiosity, not very impressive.

  39. Zach
    April 6, 2014

    My dad had a bee crawl down the straw of his soda when he wasn’t looking. Took a sip and it got him in the back of the throat. Ouch.

  40. Sheli
    April 6, 2014

    Exactly between the eyes. Both eyes swelled up and the pain was excruciating. It was a wasp though. Perhaps wasp trials are in order? Any takers?

  41. Jenn
    April 6, 2014

    I wonder if they included inside the ear canal in this study. When I was a child (about 8 or 9), a bee flew into my ear and stung the inside of my ear canal. I remember that one hurt pretty badly!

  42. kahty ormsby
    April 6, 2014

    i got stung in the roof my mouth out camping went to take drink from string it was a 10 in pain i went to hospital for swelling they gave me medication but for 4 days it was painful to eat anything but icecream

  43. Reg
    April 6, 2014

    I was stung as a child by an angry black wasp. He got me directly in the temple. It knocked me out cold. I hit the ground. I’d say the pain was pretty close to a 9 or a 10. I woke up on the couch. The throbbing was unimaginable! ( of course anything and everything usually triggers a miagraine for me and this was no different)

  44. Tom Long
    April 6, 2014

    The nose would be very painful and the penis would not even be on my list, sorry but I am not taking one for the team. Tom

  45. Lisa
    April 6, 2014

    I noticed no one mentioned the itching after a sting begins to heal…..at least for me anyway, and, in particular, a healing yellow jacket sting. I find the itching later is as uncomfortable as the sting itself because it lasts for days afterward. That is actually the aspect I did like the most about getting stung.

  46. Lisa
    April 6, 2014

    I meant to say “dislike” the most. Darn auto correct!

  47. Andy
    April 6, 2014

    My co-worker had stung in his tongue, and I think the tongue would be the worst place.

  48. Rika
    April 6, 2014

    I was stung by a bee only once in my life.. It was in the palm of my hand and I didn’t even feel it but my nose started bleeding a minute later and I went dizzy and my temp. Shot up

    I’m not sure why the sting didn’t sting propably shock

  49. Ima
    April 6, 2014

    It’s not just that there was only 1 test subject, but also that not everyone will be comparably sensitive in the same regions of the body, and after one has been stung multiple times one’s pain tolerance may change. Interesting experiment from a personal interest perspective, but if I were a reviewer I would reject the paper on the basis of poor methodology.

  50. Tony
    April 6, 2014

    I got stung by a bee on my index finger right underneath my fingernail. …..6.7 my ass!!! That was definitely a 15!

  51. Kurt
    April 6, 2014

    As a child I stepped on a bumble bee. I didn’t see the pain level for the bottom / arch of a foot listed. As I kid I remember it hurting a lot!

  52. Mike c
    April 6, 2014

    I got stung on the lower lip by 2 bees from a swarm. My lip was huge:blew up BIG! I think the tongue would be the worst though since if I had my mouth open my tongue may have swelled up and i could have choked to death. That’s not good to try and chart: just have a hose ready to shove down your throat like I almost had to. Buzzbuzzbuzz

  53. Mandee
    April 6, 2014

    I’ve had experience being stung on the side of my left palm right under the joint between the little finger, or “pinky” as many call it, and the fleshy part of the palm itself. (I forgot most of my anatomical nomenclature so I seem to be having trouble describing the exact location… please bear with me!) by a yellow jacket… It hurt for DAYS! I’d rate it more at an 8.0

  54. Kevin
    April 6, 2014

    I think the ball bag or the spot just between the balls and the anus, just thinking about that makes my anus pucker, would be near that 10.0. No I do not and will not attempt.

  55. Monique
    April 6, 2014

    Not so very long ago I was stung twice on the head on the same day (ear and cheek bone) neither swelled or did anything much beyond the ear getting exceedingly itchy a few days later. A couple of months later, while righting a toppled hive, I was stung, through jeans, on the inner thigh-ish area by a very mad bee. That swelled, ached and changed color and I thought it was almost worthy of a hospital trip. This leads me to believe that a casual sting is better than one by a pissed off bee.

  56. Umi
    April 6, 2014

    “I didn’t see a lot of merit in repeating this with more subjects,”

    >> I have to disagree.

    Subsequent experiments don’t have to be carried out with bees. You can come up with a simulated ‘sting’ effect with a similar pain threshold to a bee sting. I think you’ll find people would be more inclined to volunteer if they know that the pain can be controlled, and not randomly delivered by an insect.

  57. Sonia
    April 6, 2014

    When I was in college it was normal seeing the bees flying around the soda cans in the gardens in the meantime we were doing homework. I was very focused doing my math when without paying any attention I sipped from my soda and I felt a buzz inside of my mouth! I couldn’t think about it, and only I spilled out infront of everybody homework. We saw one bee flying out of my mouth, but a second one stung inside of my lower lip. My friends were making jokes saying if I was mad or asking for a kiss!! The pain was terrible! And my lips seemed x5 thicker!

  58. Patrik Marc Schneider
    April 6, 2014

    Bees stungs, it is painful – that’s it, do we really know more, I just try to avoid it by respecting the bees life.

  59. Ilko Tsvetkov
    April 6, 2014

    Look I worck with bees for almost 20 years.And I can assure you if you put a bee on your skin and press it to stung you,it will be nothing close to an old bee who wants to stung you at any cost!And another thing, every human has a diferent pain barrier!

  60. archeschick
    April 6, 2014

    Why didn’t he use the same wasp. Doesn’t this experiment kill bees? We need bees to survive!

  61. Scar1962
    April 6, 2014

    Anybody got stung under your foot (in the middle)?……man, the pain was WOW.

  62. Rich Dymott
    April 6, 2014

    UnBEElievable findings

  63. Chris Mackinnon
    April 6, 2014

    You have more nerves in your balls. They are important. They hurt because your body is telling you “don’t fuck with us, we reproduce you” I’m sure most males would agree that a hard smack to the balls hurts. Non specific to bees!

  64. Julie Mbugua
    April 6, 2014

    I got stung on the middle finger walking home at night I thought my hand would get paralysed from the pain. I could not remove the stinger in the dark.

  65. Shelldigger
    April 6, 2014

    When I was a kid I was walking about on my uncles farm. Being a farm there were a lot of dirt clods about, I started tossing some to see if I could hit an old wagon. I still do not know where they came from, but I agitated a bumble bee hive. Those bastards put a hurting on me. I had dozens of stings mostly about the upper body and head. Pain? YES.

    Interesting note, no matter how fast you run, or how loud you yell for help, the bees they keep a stinging. I was laid up afterward for 2 or 3 days.

    The worst sting I ever had though, was a giant hornet. Was picking up wood to stack, and it hit me in the elbow. Pain was very intense, and that’s coming from a guy that was hit by a hive of bumble bees.

    Note to scientists, I am not interested in being part of a study. :)

    Steve…wow.

  66. Mary Allen
    April 6, 2014

    Black & white hornet right on lower eye lid swelled & blacked both eyes hurts like hell

  67. craig
    April 6, 2014

    in statistical terms we say n is too small, hence the results are insignificant.

  68. T. Bretherton
    April 6, 2014

    So by stinging himself five times a day for 38 days this man killed 190 bee’s for information that was in no way vital to the human experience.

  69. Beth
    April 6, 2014

    I was stung on the wrist by a wasp. I must not have extracted the entire stinger. Days later when I notice a black speck on my wrist, I absentmindely plucked it away. The pain was equal to the original sting. Plus I experienced bruising and swelling that I’d not originally experienced.

  70. JJ
    April 6, 2014

    I worked on the third biggest honey bee farm in the world for 2 years at that time we had about 25000 bee hives! Soo I got my fair share of stungs… If I have to think about numbers that would be impossible at least 20 times a day haha. There’s one thing I experienced that I couldn’t explain the swelling and the way the way that my body reacted to the poison went down dramatically over the years. I did not even notice a sting on my body anymore! Tho the pain level always stayed the same!? I can agree with you on your study and confirm that your assesment is exactly correct! That damn nose sting.. Was by far the worst , and the inside off your mouth was pretty bad too..

  71. Nicole
    April 6, 2014

    I had a wasp in my shirt and was stung multiple times, I also had a hornet sting me in the corner of my eye on the ear side…I’ll take the multiple wasp stings any day over my face swelling up and not being able to see the pain was worse too than the multiple stings.

  72. Carlos DoNascimiento
    April 6, 2014

    It is quite interesting the differential response of pain sensory receptors between frontal and back surfaces of body. It offers the idea that higher levels of sensory response (higher levels of pain) are more active in the frontal surface. It could be worth of a more in depth of a detailed and accurate research program about the possible positively selective nature of this different pain distribution related to a predator attack response.

  73. Tommy
    April 6, 2014

    In my opinion the worst part are eyes !!

  74. Sky Mccain
    April 6, 2014

    I am disturbed to read about this so called research. These bees were killed purely to satisfy this man’s curiosity. Is this information more important than the value of what these bees provide for the planet? I see from the article that he destroyed 190 bees over 38 days.
    Although I deplore the use of animals in research, at least some of it supposedly saves human lives, but this bee experiment can’t even claim that justification So I am not only disturbed but outraged.
    Who published this? National Geographic. Their strapline? “Inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888.”
    I suggest that these 190 bees would have done more for the planet than most of us in the 38 days Mr. Smith took to murder them.

  75. Shannon Ducker
    April 6, 2014

    I got stung on the upper lip and it hurt and pulsated for hours. I agree with his rating. My top lip swelled up and I looked like Pamela Anderson after Botox for a few weeks

  76. Kathy
    April 6, 2014

    I worked at a bee farm when I was a teenager. Came home every day with 10 or more stings on my hands alone. Even though we wore rubber gloves. My fingers would swell so bad I couldn’t hold a spoon to eat dinner. It would subside by the next morning and we’d go do it all over again. Fun summers!

  77. Bill G
    April 6, 2014

    I got stung by a yellow jacket on the lower lip while bike riding. It hurt immensely, I almost fell off the bike. Pain lasted for about 20 minutes, despite putting ice on it immediately. (however it lessened after the ice.)

  78. Christina
    April 6, 2014

    How about doing a subset of this experiment and test different pain management techniques? We know the stings hurt, but what can we do to manage the pain and what method provides the best results?

  79. herman sjah
    April 6, 2014

    Do not try ever get stung at the tongue. An Asian honey hunter of giant bee apis dorsata once warned me swollen stung tongue will choke human to death. He advised not to scream or open the mouth while running away from angry chasing Apis dorsata so that they do not get to the tongue.

  80. Karen Toates
    April 6, 2014

    I love strange & weird nature —— thanks for the articles

  81. Miss Cellania
    April 6, 2014

    One of my co-bloggers wants to use your first sentence as a creative writing prompt.

  82. Jeff
    April 6, 2014

    Having been stung several times, the worst has to be the eyes. I went blind both times in a matter of minutes but meds brought me out of it in a few hours time. The next worst would have to be stung on the tongue, a very horrible experience.

  83. Yuki
    April 6, 2014

    I’ll vouch for the electrolysis comment. There’s two other things that are also consistent with this map:
    Epilation by waxing/sugaring/plucking
    Epilation by chemical (neet/veet)

    In the case of chemical epilation, they tell you right on the package to avoid touching certain things, and if you forget (or rinse off the stuff improperly) it will sting to the point of tears in a similar pattern.

    So what the author did here, seems to collaborate other peoples experiences in intentionally inflicted pain.

  84. Straybullet
    April 6, 2014

    I have had the uncommon good luck to have been stung in the upper eyelid 4 different times. Each time was excruciating, and the consequent swelling of the lid made me look like a very unsuccessful prizefighter.

  85. ammar
    April 6, 2014

    Thanks for the article its really good, but I think any part of the face should be rated more than 8

  86. adam
    April 6, 2014

    got stung in the throat (nearly swallowed a bee) – I give it a 7. most painful must be anus and genitals, I don’t want to check it though

  87. Barry Walker
    April 6, 2014

    Not related to an injection of venom, but people get tattooed on almost every conceivable part of the body. I think that interviewing a large enough cross-section of tattooed subjects could be instrumental in creating a body map of sensitivity to pain. This could also be a source of potential subjects considering some tattooed persons develop an addiction of sorts to that pain. I think that some research suggest an endorphin release associated with tattooing.

  88. Clint Jonsson
    April 6, 2014

    I was stung on the upper eyelid when I was about 7. The eyelid swelled shut for about 5 or 6 hours, that was my way worst sting. Later in life was stung on the bottom of the heal twice by a bumblebee, barely felt it. Also had 5 yellow jacket bites the on the elbow all at once, that hurt a lot but an hour later was pretty much done.

  89. Wally
    April 6, 2014

    Great article. I was stung by a bee on the neck, I would give it 2.4. The pain was manageable; however, I got stung by a type of red wasp on the back of my hand. It was painful, and I would give 6.2. I got stung by scorpion one time on the same hand and another on the chest. I was crying because of the pain could not feel my hand. On the other hand my chest was not that bad. I give 8.0 for the hand and 2 for the chest. If you want to know about 10/10, one of my friends got stung by scorpion on the tip his penis, oh man! I could imagine the amount of pain he was going through all night. He wished his dead during that night several times.

  90. margit
    April 6, 2014

    This doesn’t seem to be such new knowledge after all, or why else would physicians use the upper arm or buttocks as vaccination sites? The more important question… is Mr Smith now allergic to bee venom?

  91. Kaspar Howe
    April 6, 2014

    I was once stung in the very middle between my eyes. I had made the mistake of swatting at a bee near it’s hive. It came back around and hit me between the eyes. I then could feel the ground start vibrating, and this very loud buzzing sound, growing very fast(was a huge hive underground). I just causally walked away and they left me alone.

    I would rate it only about a 4. But to me honey bee stings never really hurt anyways. Yellow jackets on the other hand, hurt MUCH more.

  92. Jon
    April 6, 2014

    I was stung directly into a vein on the back of my hand. It hurt very mildly for about 5 seconds, then I had about 2 minutes of the most intense adrenaline rush of my life. I thought my heart was going to burst and was about to go to Emergency before I started to come down. It was all over in about 5 minutes.

  93. jake
    April 6, 2014

    I once got stung in my tong not realizing the bee in my soda drink….

    wonder how that compared to nostrils in pain in scale 1_10…

  94. chan
    April 6, 2014

    This study is not complete because it doesn’t include female genitalia.

  95. terry goodhue
    April 6, 2014

    As a beekeeper, I’ve been stung just about everywhere. In the eye and in the ear and under the fingernail are the worst I’ve gotten. I haven’t been stung in the anus but a fellow apiarist said it was by far the worst.

  96. Nelson Shannon
    April 6, 2014

    OMG let me tell you. I have never been stung on the nostril or the lip. I have however been stung on the head of my penis. Was riding my bike in Lycra shorts. Son of a bitch hit me in the face fell to my groin and stung me through my shorts. Let’s just say John Holmes would have been ashamed in the locker room.

  97. Not a bee keeper
    April 6, 2014

    People here worrying about these 190 dead bees from a fear of global extinction should relax. There are still billions (2M hives w. 30k bees each, my guesstimate) of bees in USA alone even after the CCD of 2006. World wide; bees are even better off.

  98. julia samson
    April 6, 2014

    As a child I lived next to an orchard and would not wear shoes in the summer. I can tell you that stings on the arch of the bottom of the foot rates right at the top of the scale and they heal slowly. I still remember them many years later. To volunteer to be stung is crazy. Was any one around in case of reaction? I can’t imagine putting myself in such peril.

  99. kidd
    April 6, 2014

    the worst place to be stung? that would be the inside of the throat. simply put, if are stung there the throat would swell up and you would suffocate. it has happened before, this is true. i have been stung several times on the outside of the body, the inside of the forearm, the chin, the hand, and they all hurt, but were definately not life threatening. the worst place to be stung is internally. its too bad they didnt cover this in the story.

  100. David K
    April 6, 2014

    After several years of beekeeping and getting stung in most places (shaft – although not the tip – included), the one that surprisingly hurt the most was the really thin skin right below the belt line off to the side, almost where the skin bends at the hip. Felt like a knife in the stomach and hurt for days, when most would hurt for seconds or minutes.

  101. bobbi
    April 7, 2014

    Age 10 I was dusting my grandmother’s roses for bugs when I was stung on the neck by a yellow jacket. Within 2 minutes my lips were swollen huge and my brother ran for my grandmother. She took one look and grabbed me by the arm and dragged me two blocks down the street to a doctor’s office (not ours) running as fast as she/we could. My tongue swelled and by the time we reached the waiting room I couldn’t see but I could still hear. The receptionists wasted no time getting me into a treatment room where I finished passing out. One shot later I was sitting up, telling the doctor about it. The pain was excruciating but all they gave me was two antihistamines. When I finished those about two weeks later I started having strange allergic reactions to diifferent foods and drinks. Since then I haven’t been stung again but I was using two pieces of paper to remove a dead bee from the back of my car and it just barely touched my index finger. It didn’t hurt, but a bit of venom must have touched me because my finger swelled hugely and it lasted a day or two. I had shots for bee stings in my 40s and now carry an Epi-Pen just in case. Still haven’t been stung, knock wood.

  102. Ashton H
    April 7, 2014

    Had a bee decide my straw was a good place to be. Being stung on the soft palate in the rood of the mouth is around a 9 or a 10. Was enough to make my jaw clench shut for awhile.

  103. gerard
    April 7, 2014

    The dose makes the poison. Where all bees the same age? How can he assume each bee has the same potency of sting. Surely the inter bee biochemical variation in individual bee stings would confound this study. Many flaws

  104. Kendall
    April 7, 2014

    I was playing golf in South Georgia and went to take a sip of my drink that was in a cup holder on the golf cart. The honey bee was in the can and preceded to enter my mouth where he stung me on my tongue. Worst pain I have ever felt as well as the extreme discomfort of a tongue that felt like it was the size of a boat. I held my breath as long as I could in agony. I never, never, want to experience getting stung by a bee on my tongue again.

  105. Jerry N. Wesner
    April 7, 2014

    On no need for peer review, the author says ” … The author was the only person stung.” If I remember my grade school science correctly, his project didn’t do the bees involved any good. Stinger pulls out, bee dies?

  106. Paulette Paulin
    April 7, 2014

    I have been stung once by a large bee through my shorts on my buttocks .as a teenager. The initial sting was pretty bad, about a 6 but was gone after 15 minutes.with no after effects.Many years later I was up camping and while walking across the grass, got stung on my right big toe by something I stepped on.That pain was definitely a ten, excruciating.My toe swelled up alot and that pain lasted for weeks with very little diminution.I wonder what it was that stung me.Last summer, in Nova Scotia, I was nailed by fire ants on my inner forearms and wrist. That pain was insane.like a third degree burn.and blistered terribly. i still have scars on my wrist.
    the worst was what happened to my little sister. We were in the car and suddenly a hornet flew in and went right up her nose! My brother tried to get it to come out by hitting her in the nose ,and she was screaming her head off, as we could hear the hornet madly buzzing in her nose.Her nose swelled up hugely for weeks. ,and she still talks about it like her worst nightmare.Intetrestingly , she developed many food allergies after that. especially fruits.

  107. Gordon Cook
    April 7, 2014

    I was stung in the nostril while enjoying a beer on a summers day and I can vow for the 9 rating. My immediate reaction was to pour my beer up my nose… it didnt help.

  108. Mitch Anderson
    April 7, 2014

    I have a friend who was stung on his erect penis during intercourse (position change) by a yellow jacket – immediately went into anaphylactic shock (they were in a remote area of No. California, rescue was pretty remarkable) and has since had to carry a bee kit just in case – Not sure if there would be a difference in pain re erect vs flaccid but according to him it was pretty awful. Not something I would want to attempt…

  109. Kay
    April 7, 2014

    I don’t believe that people are worried that 200 bees are going to cause the final demise of the bee population–it’s just a matter of a “study” that is disrespectful to life. It’s asinine that someone could justify taking the life of these beings simply to figure out if it hurts more to get stung on the penis or the toe. Perhaps I’m missing something here, but the usefulness of such a study seems nonexistent to me. How could it possibly matter? Good job on killing a bunch of living creatures to find out that the penis is a sensitive body part, man. Groundbreaking work..

  110. Audrey
    April 8, 2014

    Granddaddy was a beekeeper. I remember getting stung on my upper lip and it was very painful! I also stepped on a bee once and getting a sting in the arch of my foot. It wasn’t the most painful, but it swelled enough that it looked like I no longer had an arch, and it itched like crazy!

  111. Sally
    April 8, 2014

    I had a friend who was stung on the tongue. It didn’t look good at all & he said it was extremely painful.

  112. Jim McDonald
    April 8, 2014

    There’s also the element of surprise.

    When I was about 7, I somehow unknowingly got a bee up my pants, which finally stung me in the buttocks as I was seated for dinner, launching me across the table and into the mashed potatoes with one hand and gravy with another. That got a 7 on my personal pain scale, but might have been less had I been expecting it.

  113. josh w
    April 8, 2014

    I got a sting on the roof of my mouth from a bee in my coke. I ran around like a crazy person until my mother pulled it out with needlenosed pliers

  114. Joey Schmo
    April 9, 2014

    All wrong. The worst place to get stung is the tiny area between your nose and the inside of your eye. Right where the skin of your nose turns into the pink part of your eye.

    I had this happen to me once while playing basketball outdoors about ten years ago. I thought I was going to die. I would have traded for a sting in any of the parts listed.

  115. 11bravo
    April 12, 2014

    I was stung on the upper lip; (where your septum meets the lip). There must be some weird dividing lines because, The upper half of my face swelled w/in an hour to a point where I looked like a physically different person.
    It was a band of swelling from mid-mouth, up to just above my brow-line. Yellow Jacket – 7.0 on my pain thresh hold.

  116. KevDog
    April 21, 2014

    The Ignobel is all but won…

  117. vijee
    May 3, 2014

    “Wine-tasting notes of agony.”

    epdi saar….

  118. Darlene
    May 4, 2014

    As a child of about 11 years old I was stung on the roof of the mouth by a yellowjacket. I have never had a sting hurt as much. In fact, few things I have ever experienced we’re worse.

  119. Kitty
    May 17, 2014

    I was stung on my lip by a bee when I was like 5 ( I’m almost 20 ) and I’ve had a dot that resembles a cold sore that’s been there ever since.. I’ve been tested for STDs and I’m clean.. So what could it be?

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