Cornell University graduate student, Michael Smith, has taken curiosity to the next level. When a honeybee stung him in the testicles, he didn’t say “I don’t want to go through that again”. No, sir. Smith was surprised how little it hurt, when guaged against his expectations. So he wondered, if not the testicles, where is the worst place to get stung?

With little to no hard data on the subject, Smith decied to create some. His test subject was himself.

As noted in his paper, “Cornell University’s Human Research Protection Program does not have a policy regarding researcher self-experimentation, so this research was not subject to review from their offices. The methods do not conflict with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, revised in 1983. The author was the only person stung, was aware of all associated risks therein, gave his consent, and is aware that these results will be made public.”

Smith would simply grab a bees by their wings and place them against “exhibit A, B or C”, by which I mean his ear, nose or toe. He would then simply rate the pain on a scale of one to ten. He put himself through five stings, daily, for 38 days.

The most painful sites were the penis shaft (7.3), upper lip (8.7) and nostril (9.0). “It’s electric and pulsating,” he Smith. “Especially the nose. Your body really reacts. You’re sneezing and wheezing and snot is just dribbling out. Getting stung in the nose is a whole-body experience.”

Below is Smith’s chart of locations and their respective pains on a scale of 1-10:

Pain of bee stings


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