This Is the Most Painful Place to Get Stung by a Bee

The answer might surprise you.

wound bee sting on men's arms.Swelling and inflammationplew koonyosying/Shutterstock

There isn’t really a good place to get a bee sting. Ideally, it’s best to avoid the painful sting in the first place. If you are a sting victim, however, you might feel better knowing there are places on the body where stings could be more painful than others.

Although pain is subjective, Justin Schmidt created a sting index in the 1980s. His Schmidt Sting Pain Index measures the painfulness of stings from 78 different species of insects on a scale of zero to four, according to Discover Magazine. Cornell University graduate student Michael Smith—who studies the behavior of honeybees—used that index as a jumping off point for his own experiment, National Geographic reports. Yes, Smith endured multiple bee stings on himself to determine the most painful spot for a sting.

According to the results, all stings unsurprisingly induced pain. The study rated the painfulness of honey bee stings on 25 different body locations. The most painful ones were in the nostril, followed by the upper lip and the penis, per the research. The least painful spots were the skull, upper arm, and the tip of the middle toe. Instead of rating the stings on Schmidt’s zero to four scale, Smith used a scale of one to ten, according to National Geographic. Smith had fives stings a day and stung himself three separate times on each of the different body locations. Of course, it isn’t just where that affects the negative impact of a bug bite, it can also be the type of bug. If you happen to get any of these 8 bug bites, you need to get medical attention right away.

Again, pain is very subjective, and data from one person doesn’t automatically mean where they felt the most pain is where all others will too. That said, more research is necessary to understand the connection between sting location and pain further. It might be challenging finding study volunteers who won’t be too freaked out by bees and wasps. Of course, their stings aren’t the only thing about these bizarre bugs that will totally freak you out.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is a former staff writer at Reader’s Digest. There’s a 90% chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she’s not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts and liking one too many astrology memes.