Lester William Bartsch 71, an irrigation engineer with the World Bank for 12 years until his retirement in 1972, died Sunday at Commonwealth Doctors Hospital in Fairfax as the result of a bee sting he received Aug. 21.

Mr. Bartsch was stung by a bee while working with his tractor at his home in Clifton. He lapsed into a coma shortly afterwards and never regained consciousness.

He joined the staff of the World Bank in Washington in 1960 after a 31-year career with Bureau of Reclamation in Denver and Billings, Mont. After his retirement in 1972, he continued as a consultant to the bank and took part in missions to Ecuador, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and the Sudan.

Mr Bartsch was born in Milwaukee. He attended Marquette University and earned a degree in civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin. He also earned a law degree from the University of Denver.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth, of the home; a son, Lynn, of Los Angeles, and a daughter Susan Winkler, of Los Altos, Calif.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Helen Keller Memorial Fund, 11635 Chapel Road, Clifton, Va., 22024.