The Most Painful Places to Get Stung, According to the Researcher Who Made Bees Sting Him for Science


After getting stung by a bee, you might make a note to be more careful of your surroundings in the future. Michael Smith had a much different reaction when a bee stung him in the testicles one day. As an entomologist who studies honeybees, he was inspired by the encounter to create a map of the most painful places to get stung on the human body. Knowing he would have trouble finding willing volunteers, Smith elected to be his own test subject.

According to National Geographic, Smith tested 25 different body parts, exposing each spot to three stings over the course of 38 days for his study, which was published in PeerJ in 2014. To induce the stings, he picked up honeybee specimens by the wings and held their stingers up to his skin for a full minute. He rated the pain of each sting on a scale of 1 to 10, and started and ended all tests with a "test sting" on his forearm for comparison.

The most painful places to get stung by a bee, in Smith's experience, aren't the parts you may expect. A sting in the scrotum, the incident that inspired the study, received a 7 out of 10 on the pain scale. It was rated just as painful as stingers in the palm, cheek, and armpit. More excruciating is a sting to the penis shaft (7.3), upper lip (8.7), and nostril (9). Smith reported that being stung in the nose triggered "sneezing, tears, and a copious flow of mucus." He theorized that the flood of mucus may be the body's defense mechanism against a bee attack in the wild.

Other body parts ranked at the opposite end of the pain spectrum. Stings to the upper arm, tip of the middle toe, and top of the skull all averaged a rating of 2.3 out of 10. Smith compared getting stung on the scalp to having an egg smashed on his head.

Though some may question the value of getting stung on purpose nearly 200 times in the name of science, Smith's hard work was recognized. In 2015, he received an Ig Nobel prize: an award that honors scientific achievements "that first make people laugh, then make them think."

[h/t National Geographic]

This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

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Vermont Just Banned Residents From Throwing Food Scraps in the Trash

Compost is delicious trash salad for your soil.
Compost is delicious trash salad for your soil.
svetikd/iStock via Getty Images

Any Vermont resident who has carelessly tossed a watermelon rind into the trash bin this month is technically a lawbreaker.

On July 1, the state passed its Food Scraps Ban, which mandates that all leftover food either be composted or donated. Not only does this include inedible scraps like pits, seeds, coffee grounds, and bones, but also anything still left on your plate after a meal—pizza crusts, for example, or the square of Spam casserole your grandmother served before you could politely decline.

“If it was once part of something alive, like a plant or animal, it does not belong in the landfill,” Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation says on its website.

While it might seem like a drastic policy, Vermont has been laying the groundwork—and developing the infrastructure to maintain it—for years. In 2012, the legislature unanimously passed the Universal Recycling Law, which mapped out a step-by-step plan to cut down on landfill waste. Over the years, recyclables, yard debris, and now food scraps have all been banned from landfills [PDF]. To help residents abide by the restrictions, trash haulers have begun to offer pick-up services for the entire range of materials, and the state has budgeted around $970,000 in grant money for compost collection and processing facilities.

According to Fast Company, Vermont officials are hopeful this latest policy will help them hit their long-standing goal of reducing landfill waste by 50 percent; until now, they’ve only been able to achieve a 36-percent decrease. And it’s not just about saving space in landfills. Food decomposes more slowly in landfills, and the process produces methane—a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Composting those scraps enriches the soil (and keeps garbage from smelling so putrid, too).

As for enforcing the Food Scraps Ban, they’re relying on the honor code.

“People say, ‘What does this mean with a food waste ban? [Are] people going to be out there looking in my garbage for my apple cores?'” Josh Kelly, materials management section chief at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, told Fast Company. “That’s not the intent of this.”

The lack of consequences might diminish the efficacy of such a law in a different state, but maybe not in eco-friendly Vermont: According to a University of Vermont study, 72 percent of Vermonters already composted or fed food scraps to their animals before the Food Scraps Ban took effect.

Though Vermont is the only state so far to enact an outright ban on trashing food scraps, you don’t have to wait for your state to follow suit to make a change. Here’s a beginner’s guide to composting at home from the Environmental Protection Agency.

[h/t Fast Company]