A Scientist Gets Himself Stung by Bees so You Won't Have To

Fagjun | Published 2017-08-08 00:25


People do things for love, for fame, for money, for the love of money and fame. Then there are those who do things for science, like getting themselves stung by bees on purpose just so we'll know which parts of our bodies a bee sting will hurt the most.


One such person is Michael Smith, who had suffered a bee sting on a body part that God only intended to be treated nicely—the testicles. After this experience, did he shun bees altogether? Of course not. He voluntarily submitted himself to bee stings on 25 different parts of his body, then rated how much each sting hurt on a scale of one to ten.


Smith won an Ig Nobel Prize for his efforts. The Ig Nobel Prize is awarded to scientists who do research that sounds funny, but can actually be quite useful or at least thought-provoking. Thanks to Smith, no one else has to subject themselves to the ordeal of getting stung by bees in different parts of their body.


The Science of Getting Stung by Bees


So did Smith whack a bee hive with a stick and let nature take its course? Of course not; that would be ridiculous. Instead, he engineered an experiment in which he let bees sting each of the pre-selected parts of his body for 60 seconds. This amount of time is just enough for the bee to fully inject its venom. Smith let the bees sting each body part three times, then he calculated the average level of pain in each body part. He took bees from the same hive, and the order of stings was random.


According to his findings, the nostril is the worst place to get stung by a bee, with a pain rating of nine out of 10. It was more painful than getting stung in the scrotum, which had an average pain rating of seven. The tip of the middle toe, the upper arm, and the skull are the least painful places, with all three parts scoring an average pain rating of 2.3.



Smith did place some boundaries on where he'll let himself get stung by bees. He apparently contemplated letting a bee sting him in the eye, but decided against it when his adviser cautioned that he might go blind.


The things people do for science, indeed.

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