A 59-year-old man died on Monday after he was stung by a swarm of bees, a Kentucky coroner said.
The man, who has not yet been publicly identified, was moving an old bag of potting soil from his porch in Kentucky’s Harlan County when the bees came out of the bag, Deputy Coroner John W. Jones said in a social media post. Family members started performing CPR and the man was rushed to an emergency room where he died just before 6:00 p.m. Officials have not said if the man was allergic to bees.
“Our heartfelt prayers go out to the entire family and friends,” the coroner’s office said, adding that the investigation is ongoing.
How common are deadly bee stings?
A total of 788 people died from stings by hornets, wasps or bees between 2011 and 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The annual number of deaths ranged from 59, in 2012, to 89 in 2017.
Around 84% of deaths from stings occurred in males.
The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
How to avoid being stung
The USDA advises avoiding bee colonies by looking around and listening for the sound of buzzing. If you do find a colony, leave it alone — don’t disturb or tease the bees. Don’t try to remove the bees yourself.
Wearing light-colored clothing may help. Honey bees, one of several varieties that sting, may be aggravated by colors that remind them of their natural predators, such as bears and skunks.
Those wary of bee stings should also avoid strongly scented shampoos, soaps and perfumes.
What to do if you encounter aggressive bees
If you encounter aggressive bees, the USDA advises running away quickly. While running, pull your shirt up over your head or use your arms to protect your face. The areas around your eyes, nose and ears should be protected.
Head toward an enclosed shelter, such as a vehicle or building. Do not jump into water as bees will wait for you to come up for air.
Avoid swatting at the bees or flailing your arms, which can aggravate the bees.
Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack.
How to treat bee stings
Wash the site of a bee sting with soap and water, health officials with the CDC advise. Wipe over the area with gauze or scrape the area with a fingernail to remove the stinger. Do not squeeze the stringer or use tweezers.
Someone who’s been stung can apply ice to reduce swelling. Avoid scratching the sting as this can increase swelling and the risk of infection.
Taking an antihistamine can reduce skin symptoms and taking pain medications, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can relieve pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Those suffering from a severe allergic reaction may need to use an epinephrine injector and visit an emergency room for treatment.