An American researcher has joined the list of scientists famed for using themselves as human Guinea pigs in the name of science after enduring weeks of pain to discover where the worst place to be stung by a bee is.
Cornell University's Michael Smith sustained stings in areas all over his body, including his genitals, in his determined effort to discover the most painful region for stings from the insect. The results may help to shed light on human sensitivity to pain in general.
Smith, who researches bee colonies, thought of the study while he was discussing occupational hazards with his adviser.
Smith, a graduate student, said, "We speculated it probably would really hurt to get stung in the testicles. Two days later, by chance, I did get stung there. It didn't hurt as much as I expected it to."
After choosing 25 places on his body to test the sensation of a bee sting Smith grasped the insects with forceps and held them to his skin until they stung him and allowed the stinger to stay in his body for five minutes. He repeated this five times a day for 38 days.
Using a control sting on his forearm, which he ranked five out of ten, Smith graded each sting on the same scale and uncovered some surprising finds.
Despite expectations, the testicles turned out to be the fourth worst place, having scored seven out of ten, making it level with stings to the cheek, palm and armpit.
The worst place was the nostril, which Smith ranks nine out of ten, with the upper lip being ranked second with 8.7 out of ten and the penis in third at 7.3 out of ten.
The least painful spots were the skull, tip of the middle toe and upper arm, all of which scored 2.3.
But Smith stressed that bees are not usually aggressive towards humans, saying, "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."