16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, July 8, 1911: Went to Watsontown this afternoon. Got stung by a bee coming home. Went up to Oakes on an errand as soon as I got home from town.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
This is the second time that Grandma has been stung by a bee in less than a month. When I was a child my family always treated bee stings with a baking soda paste. But another old-time remedy for bee stings is described in the Compendium of Every Day Wants (1908):
BEE STINGS.—Common plantain leaves mashed and tied on the part stung will at once draw out the swelling and take away all pain. This is a simple and easily gotten remedy and one that I have tried myself. One summer when I was helping to hive bees, my eyes were stung that they swelled shit, and this took the swelling out in an hour.
Luther Minter in Compendium of Every Day Wants (1908)
The Compendium is referring to a weed sometimes called common plantain (and not to the cooking banana). Some alternative medicine websites indicate that plantain helps relieve bee stings because the leaves contain tannins which act as an astringent and reduces swelling. The leaves may also reduce pain because they contain salicylic acid (which is the active ingredient in aspirin)