I think stings vary in pain, depending on how good a hit you take, i.e. how good they get the stinger in and how much venom gets in before you get the stinger out. I got stung about 3 nights ago on the ear and neck and it wasn't bad at all. Kept ice on it for a while and had virtually no swelling or itching.
That being said, I was stung in early summer on the hand (first major sting in 20 years) and had a big time reaction: hives head to toe, hand swole up like a catcher's mit, couldn't get my watch off or close my fist, had to take steroids. I was afraid it might be the end of my bee career. But I bet I have been stung at least 10 times since then and only once did I have any more swelling (very mild) and no more hives and no real itching. But I pretty much always try to put ice on the sting area (except for 2 on my fingers yesterday. Didn't do anything and didn't really have any reaction.)
But i did get an epi-pen to have on hand "just in case."