When we were visiting family in Texas this summer, my husband was stung on the forehead by some red wasps that he was attempting to evict from his aunt’s house soffit. We were both surprised when his aunt exclaimed that she was going to get the toothpaste and disappeared into the house. We were even more surprised when smearing toothpaste on the sting relieved his pain.
Then, a few weeks ago, my brother-in-law kindly loaned me a bee-hat so that I could get a little closer to the action when he and my husband were working his hives. The day before, the bees had already shown their dislike of dark colors by dive bombing my husband’s black baseball cap the moment he plonked it on my head. So, the following day, with my head safely ensconced in a white cover and face-protection, they decided to go after a different dark item — my navy-blue thermal shirt! That was my first bee sting since childhood and considerably less painful than I anticipated. (But still something to avoid, when possible.) We were too far from the house to make fetching toothpaste seem worth while, but the bees had fired a warning shot.
You would think that would be a lesson that would stick with me, but apparently I’m a little slow today. Now that I have my own bee suit and gloves, I headed out with my husband to put new fondant in our hives and to see if there was any left from the batch we placed in a week ago. My husband lifted the lid on the least populated hive, and I got to see a wonderfully healthy cluster of bees through the hole in the top cover. Then I got to see that they had eaten almost all of the fondant, and then they let me know very clearly that a bee suit may protect my face and hands, but wearing thermal weave, dark pants is inviting them to find the weakness in my defense. Of course, they went after the largest and most obvious target area and I was subsequently able to gain first-hand experience about the effectiveness of toothpaste on bee stings.
While cooking a new batch of fondant for the ungrateful little critters, I researched reasons why toothpaste would actually help soothe stings. According to Rapid Home Remedies, the alkalinity of toothpaste neutralizes the acidity of the venom in the bee sting. Apparently fire ants have an alkaline venom, so toothpaste probably will not work on those. I’ll let you know next summer….
The new batch of fondant is cooling, and the kitchen smells are invigorating. First of all, the smell of the boiling sugar water reminded me suddenly and very strongly of memories of my mother making red-currant jelly. I guess the lemon juice in the mixture is what transported me back to my childhood home. Now the smell of the lemon grass in the Honey B Healthy I mixed into the fondant pervades the kitchen and makes the stress in my life just float away. It smells so good that my husband recently felt compelled to tell me that the label clearly warns against human consumption! The bees love the smell even more than I do, so it’s a good way to attract them to supplemental food supplies when there’s a dearth of plants to provide pollen and nectar. Toothpaste and bee vitamins — what a weird mix of components to make a day on which I got stung still simply perfect!