The effects of bee stings on human beings varies from person to person. Generally, bee stings are not usually fatal. Swelling, discomfort, and mild to moderate irritation of the skin are common side effects in individuals stung by bees or wasps. Many species of bees, like the honey bee, lose their stingers after aggressing against potential threats. The stinger of a honey bee features rough edges used to barb into the flesh of victims. Other bees, such as the larger bumblebee, possess smooth stingers which enable the insects to sting multiple times in succession. Honey bees typically die after stinging victims, while bumblebees do not.
Experts recommend removing detached stingers from the skin as soon as possible after being stung to limit the amount of venom transmitted. The venom in many bee stingers causes immediate swelling. Increased exposure to bee venom may prolong recovery from the puncture. Ice and compression may help reduce swelling and irritation and should be applied as soon as possible to limit overall pain experienced from stings. As reactions to bee stings vary from person to person, individuals who become short of breath or break out in rashes after experiencing a bee sting should seek medical attention immediately. A condition called anaphylaxis (anaphylactic shock) may occur in people who exhibit allergic reactions to stings, and can prove fatal if untreated. In even rarer cases in which individuals are stung several or dozens of times, the victim may experience mass envenomation or clogging of the renal pathways, both of which may also prove fatal.