Bee Aware

August 10, 2021
Bee Stings

Golf can be the perfect way for you to enjoy nice weather, exercise and socialize with family and friends, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. However, sunshine and luscious greens attract more than just the avid golfer. Bees, wasps and hornets can also be found on the course.

In addition to being a nuisance, these insects can be dangerous, especially if you are allergic.

Many people are allergic to bees and don’t know it, according to Dr. Jonathan Bankoff, chairman of Middlesex Health’s Department of Emergency Medicine. And if you’ve had a previous allergic reaction to a bee sting, he says it could be an indication that you will have a similar, or worse, reaction if you are stung again. In addition, the number of times you are stung at one time can contribute to severe allergic reactions, which can be fatal.

While getting stung can certainly be dangerous, it is worth noting that some people do not have a significant reaction after getting stung and do not require medical treatment.

Still, regardless of whether you have a reaction, no one likes to be stung.

August and September are very busy months for bees and wasps because they are preparing to stock up for winter. As such, it is important to be aware, especially during this time of year, when you are on the golf course, or going about your normal day. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to lessen your chances of an unfortunate insect encounter.

  • Avoid swatting or flailing at bees, wasps and hornets. Instead, walk away.
  • Exercise caution when retrieving a ball that landed in flowers, bushes, near plants and in sand traps. (Sand traps are a popular nesting area for insects.)
  • Limit bringing sugary drinks on the course. Insects, particularly bees, are attracted to these drinks.
What happens when you get stung?

If you get stung by a bee, wasp or hornet, you should expect the area where you were stung to become red, warm, swollen and tender. It may also become itchy. This reaction is caused by the insect’s body fluid and the reaction should fade after a few hours.

If there is discomfort, you can rely on routine first aid. Applying ice packs or a cool compress to the affected area may help. You may also find relief by taking Motrin, Advil or Benadryl. The affected area should be elevated, if possible, and you should also get out of the sun and go indoors.

When should you seek help?

You should seek medical attention immediately if you are stung on your face, in your mouth, on your tongue or in your airway.

In addition, if you experience any shortness of breath, have difficulty swallowing or breathing, or if your lip or tongue swells, call 911. You may be having a more severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur within minutes of being stung. However, it can sometimes take a half hour or longer for symptoms to develop.

An EpiPen is often used to block the progression of a severe allergic response. In this case, an EpiPen may be used to help treat anyone who has facial, lip, tongue or mouth swelling, or difficulty breathing or swallowing.

EpiPens are prescribed to those more likely to experience severe allergic reactions. EpiPens should generally be used by someone who has been prescribed an EpiPen by a medical professional for use in anaphylaxis.

About Middlesex Health’s Emergency Department

Middlesex Health has three Emergency Department locations in Middletown, Westbrook and Marlborough. They are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

While you do not need an appointment to visit Middlesex Health’s Emergency Department, you can make one. You can pick the Emergency Department location of your choice and make an appointment here.

Appointments are for those who have medical problems that are not life-threatening emergencies. If you have a life-threatening (or emergency) medical condition, such as anaphylaxis, you should go immediately to your closest Emergency Department or call 911.


Featured Provider

Jonathan E. Bankoff, MD

Jonathan E. Bankoff, MD


  • Middletown, CT
  • Westbrook, CT
  • Marlborough, CT

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