Where is the worst place on the body to get stung by a bee? One student has found the answer...

Michael Smith of Cornell University put the nostril at the top of the list followed by the upper lip and the penis

Throughout history, a select band of the brave has willingly turned into human guinea pigs in the cause of science. Benjamin Franklin got a shock from lightning by flying a kite in a storm. Sir Humphry Davy discovered laughing gas was an effective anaesthetic and Albert Hofman took the first LSD trip in his search for new medicines.

Now, an academic has deliberately subjected himself to weeks of pain to answer one burning question – just where is the worst place on the body to get stung by a bee?

Michael Smith of Cornell University in the US was unstinting in his dedication to the task with even the most delicate parts of his anatomy subjected to multiple stings.

The results, published in the scientific journal PeerJ on Thursday, could shed new light on the human body's sensitivity to pain in general. Mr Smith, who researches bee colonies, said the idea came to him after a chat with his adviser about the occupational hazards. "We speculated it probably really would hurt to get stung in the testicles," he said. "Two days later, by chance, I did get stung there. It didn't hurt as much as I expected it to."

And so a science project began. After choosing 25 locations on the body, Mr Smith grasped a honeybee in forceps, placed it against his skin until it stung him, then allowed the stinger to remain for a minute – five times a day for 38 days.

The results were not quite as expected. He rated his experiences with marks out of 10, compared with a control sting to the forearm which was given a five.

The testicles turned out to be the fourth worst place with an average score of seven, equal with the cheek, palm and armpit. The sorest place, the nostril, was much worse – he rated the experience as a nine – followed by the upper lip on 8.7 and the penis some distance behind in third on 7.3. The least painful locations were the skull, tip of the middle toe and upper arm, all rated at 2.3.

Despite the regular bee stings, Mr Smith admitted that when he came to press a bee to his nostril for the third time, he thought to himself: "I really don't want to get sting in the nose again – that's not fun. Your body really reacts. You're sneezing, wheezing. Your eyes are streaming."

Mr Smith, a graduate student, speculated that the results might not be specific to bee stings. "Everyone knows certain places on the body are more sensitive than others. With a healthy pinch of salt, I would say it's applicable to other types of pain."

He stressed that bees were generally not aggressive towards humans. "If you have a bee buzzing around you and you think it's peeved, if you calm down, don't breathe a lot – they are attracted to carbon dioxide – and slowly walk away, you will be fine. Most stings are probably wasps."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballIt's not a game to lose, writes Paul Scholes
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

£60 - £65 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: Teach...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: The JobWe are currently recruiting for an...

PMLD Teacher

£95 - £105 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: SEN ...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes