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The Bee Sting Pain Index

By Magdeline Lum

A PhD student has subjected himself to repeated bee stings over 38 days to compare the most painful places to be stung.

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Research published in PeerJ has produced the first preliminary bee sting pain index to compare the severity of pain between sting sites. PhD candidate Michael Smith of Cornell University subjected himself to bee stings over 38 days to compile the index.

Pain can be difficult to measure as it is a subjective experience. However, a study carried out by entomologist Justin Schmidt had previously created a scale comparing the pain delivered by different stinging insects. This scale is known today as the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, and is accompanied with descriptions of the pain delivered.

The limitation of this index is that it does not compare how the pain delivered varies between sites. Some body parts are more sensitive to sensation than others, and Smith’s new study aimed to shed light on this.

Smith was methodical in his approach and recording of the study. Bees were collected “haphazardly with forceps” before they were pressed against one of the 25 predetermined test sites. The stinger was left in the sting site for a minute before removing it, and the pain was rated on a scale of between 1 and 10. To strengthen the rigour of the results, Smith’s records of pain for each site were kept hidden during repeated trials.

The application of stings was recorded with descriptions like: “Some locations required the use of a mirror and an...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.