Is U Bee Ready

Sound RIDER! logo


Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Adventure Motorsports


Is U Bee Ready?

Preventing and dealing with bee stings when you're on the road

Bee stings. Not a motorcyclist's friend, but all too common. And the more you get the worse the symptoms.

At 20,000 miles of riding a year, I'm good for about one bee sting each year. However, this year I got two. The first one was in the neck, the usual spot I get them. The area got a little puffy and hard, and eventually faded away over a few weeks. Not too bad.

But then I got one later in the summer on my throttle hand. This time the hand swelled up like a blowfish in the course of a day. When I woke up the second day I couldn't make a fist. It was tough getting my tent and gear packed when I left the campground that morning, and I could barely squeeze my glove on over the hand. Fortunately I was able to operate the throttle and front brake safely.

A call to the family doctor, my sister, helped me understand what was going on and what to do about it. Take a Claritin and get the hand elevated. Not easy to do when my day called for 500 miles of riding. Investing in a set of ape hangers was not gonna happen.

The more bee stings you get the worse the after effects can become. Symptoms such as the swelling I just described can occur and become more prominent with each sting. People who don't tolerate stings well can become asphyxiated through what is called anaphylactic shock.

As motorcyclists, we're all in the same boat with varying degrees, so let's look at the ways we can prevent stings and how to prepare for them if they occur.

1. All the gear, all the time. You've heard it before in regards to protecting your body in a crash, but full gear will help keep insects out too. Be sure to keep the ends of your sleeves and bottoms of your riding pants zipped shut, and use the zipper across the back of your pants and jacket to keep them from entering on your back side.

2. Making your gear work for you. Selecting the right gloves will aid as well. Pick gloves with long gauntlets you can pull over the sleeves of your coat to put more of a barrier between you and the bees. If your glove gauntlets are short, be sure to stuff them under the sleeve so the liner of your jacket bunches up against them and keeps the bees out. At this point you have cut off air flow into your arms from the sleeves, which won't make a hot day any better. Select gear with vents on the sleeves, chest and back side to insure you maintain good airflow on warm days. Add an evaporative cooling vest to your attire to help keep from overheating as well.

3. Select the right helmet. Ever had a bee fly into your helmet? The consequences can be ugly. If it's a full face helmet, once you open the shield to let him out he may just get blasted up your nasal passage. We've seen it happen before. Nowadays a number of full face helmets come with a cowl on the lower front to block cold air and debris from entering the face area. This is handy for keeping bees out too.

4. Protect the neck. If you're wearing full gear, the neck is the most obvious point of insertion for a bee stinger. You can prevent it by wearing a light scarf or bandana around your neck when you ride.

5. Be bee ready. I now know I should have Claritin on board when I ride. The next sting I get will end in the same or worse consequences. You can also add a topical like Hydrocortisone or Benadryl to assist with reducing any itching that may occur. These are also handy if you're prone to mosquito bites. If you get advanced symptoms such as asphyxiation, your doctor has probably already prescribed the antidote, an epinephrine shot that you must take immediately after a sting to prevent anaphylactic shock. Be sure you have it on board when you leave home.

6. If you're stung. Remove the stinger as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of venom you take in. Take a Claritin or your prescribed medicine and place a cold compress over the sting. If it's on an arm or leg elevate the limb. The sooner you move the venom toward your core, the sooner it will leave your body. Resist the urge to scratch the itch as this will increase the swelling and itching.

 TM/Fall 11


We've worked hard to upgrade this site. Click here to notify us of any problems we need to correct.


Subscription has its privileges - Each month Sound RIDER! publishes new features on rides, clubs, dealers and events. Don't miss out on these informative stories.

Sign up today for your FREE subscription and you'll get notification each month when the new issue comes on line. You'll also be the first to find out about special Sound RIDER! events. From time to time, we also provide valuable coupons that can save you hundreds of dollars on motorcycle services. What are you waiting for? Click here to sign up now!