There are two basic kinds of reaction to a bee sting, one requiring immediate care in the emergency room and the other less serious.
In the less serious local reaction, the chemicals in bee venom cause an immediate redness and swelling near the site of the sting and perhaps a fat, red, warm arm that gets worse for a day or two.
The best way to lessen this reaction, researchers have recently found, is to remove the stinger and its sac of venom as quickly as possible, within seconds, if you can.
After that, doctors usually let the problem run its course, though antihistamines may be somewhat effective and cold compresses can help.
Antibiotics are needed only for an infection, which is rare.
The more dangerous systemic allergic reaction causes a rash, hives or swelling of the body at some place distant from the sting.
This crisis requires an epinephrine injection on an emergency basis.
Other signs of this sometimes fatal reaction can include wheezing, throat tightness and faintness caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure.
A person can be insensitive to a sting one time but hypersensitive the next.