Nipple, penis, or nostril — what’s the most painful place to be stung by a bee? (The answer might surprise you.)

By Seriously Science | August 24, 2018 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/forevertrusting

Photo: flickr/forevertrusting

[Note from the authors of “Seriously, Science?”: After nine years with Discover, we’ve been informed that this will be our last month blogging on this platform. Despite being (usually) objective scientists, we have a sentimental streak, and we have spent the last few days reminiscing about the crazy, and often funny, science we have highlighted. Therefore, we have assembled a month-long feast of our favorite science papers. Enjoy!]

In the 1980s, a man named Justin Schmidt invented the Schmidt pain index, which measured the painfulness of stings from 78 species of insects on a scale of 0 to 4 (the only stings that rated 4 were the bullet ant and the tarantula hawk). Of course, pain is subjective, so Schmidt rated all of the stings himself. In that tradition, the author of this study hypothesized that the pain level of a sting also depends on its location on the body. He tested this hypothesis by — you guessed it — getting stung. A lot. Turns out that the most painful location for being stung by a bee is on the nostril, followed by the lip and the penis. Yup, the penis.

Honey bee sting pain index by body location

“The Schmidt Sting Pain Index rates the painfulness of 78 Hymenoptera species, using the honey bee as a reference point. However, the question of how sting painfulness varies depending on body location remains unanswered. This study rated the painfulness of honey bee stings over 25 body locations in one subject (the author). Pain was rated on a 1–10 scale, relative to an internal standard, the forearm. In the single subject, pain ratings were consistent over three repetitions. Sting location was a significant predictor of the pain rating in a linear model (p < 0.0001, DF = 25, 94, F = 27.4). The three least painful locations were the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm (all scoring a 2.3). The three most painful locations were the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft (9.0, 8.7, and 7.3, respectively). This study provides an index of how the painfulness of a honey bee sting varies depending on body location.”

Figure 1: Sting Locations. Drawing of the human form with Xs and labels at the sting locations.

Figure 1: Sting Locations.
Drawing of the human form with Xs and labels at the sting locations.

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: Is that bee on crack? Oh, wait…it is.
Honeybees do the “Mexican wave”!
How much cocaine can a honey bee take?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, WTF?
  • ties

    Honey bee stings don’t hurt… If I see a swarm of bees I capture them in shorts with no shirt or shoes, I all most never wear shirt or shoes in the summer. Last time I was sting about 35 times,,, And I love adding to my bee hives

  • Bonnie Robinson

    One day while collecting chicken eggs, I disturbed a wasp nest (I didn’t know it was there) and one of them flew up inside my nostril and stung me. Excruciatingly painful!



  • Owens Gary

    Malegenix is top notch! My wife is very thrilled with the increase in my penis size! The best thing that this product did for me is it prolongs my erection and it really makes me last longer in bed. I’m very thankful that this product is out on the market. Highly recommended!

    Call to order: 1-800-674-8929

  • Benjamin

    The best male enhancement for penis booster. Malegenix provides me with limitless amount of energy when it comes to bed. My sex drive is unbelievable and my stamina is like a battery that never wears out. This product can show Its effectiveness in just 3 months and that’s what makes it great.

    Call to order: 1-800-674-8929

  • Jaron CARTER

    packaging is good catch. At first I doubt in taking this pill but after
    reading the supplement facts, it gives me an idea of why not give it a
    try. This is really awesome, all that was written is real. This is worth
    of your penny.

    Call to order: 1-800-674-8929

  • Kalel Tennenbaum

    Malegenix stabilized my hormones and allowed my body to increase my
    stamina. Before, I was dumped by someone for being blamed in statisfying
    their needs. But now, I’m proud and confident to have some fun.

    Call to order: 1-800-674-8929


Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]

See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar