How often do you get stung?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by HoosierDeb, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. HoosierDeb

    HoosierDeb Well-Known Member

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    I have pretty bad reactions from bee stings. Not really a systemic allergic reaction yet but that may be in the offing. So far they've been localized (if you call having my whole forearm swell up) but you never know when the "bad" one will happen. I'd love to have bees but wondered how often beekeepers actually get stung while working their hives. I would, of course, have a bee sting kit handy but wonder if it is worth the risk. As far as that goes, if anyone lives in the Michiana area (N.Indiana/SW Michigan, near South Bend, IN) and want a place to put a couple of hives for a share of the honey, let me know
     
  2. Oregonsparkie

    Oregonsparkie Well-Known Member

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    Bee stings are inevitable. I to have some serious swelling/itching but not with every sting. I sooner I get the stinger out the milder the reaction. I also put ice on it as soon as possible. Some people swear by poulices like meat tenerizer and water to make a paste. Everyone says to use a antihistamine like benadryl but I dont think that has helped me. Ive had 2 stings in the last month and neither did too much but I got the stinger out quickly without trying to grab it with my fingers, I scraped it out.
     

  3. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    As stated, stings are inevitable. The more experienced you become, the fewer stings you will get. Basically, a person who makes calmer movements while working the bees will get stung less often than a person who bangs the bees around while working the hives. That is understandable. Another thing to consider is what you are wearing. Bees respond negatively to wool, leather, and dark colors, as well as bad body odor, perfume, and the like. If you are calm while working the animals, and don't look like a bear, you should be ok for the most part, but you will always get stung at some point. Another thing to keep in mind: some people notice that their bodies become accustomed to bee venom, and their reactions become less and less severe. Local swelling (and yes, this means your whole forearm for someone not accustomed to stings) is perfectly normal, and will be accompanied by pain and, later, itching. Since swelling means increased blood flow, and increased blood flow means alleviation of arthritis, some people intentionally sting themselves near their joints each time out to the hives to alleviate arthritis pain. Another thing to know about stings: bees leave a pheromone behind when they sting you, which incites other bees to sting. If you puff smoke over the sting site after scraping out the stinger, you will mask this pheromone, and the other bees will not smell it. This pheromone smells like bananas, so don't eat bananas while working the hives! Also, when removing a stinger, scrape it out with your hive tool or fingernail rather that grabbing it between your fingers, because this will only serve to squeeze the venom out of the venom sack attached to the stinger, and into your skin! I can't think of anything else offhand, but if you have any questions, just let us know and I'm sure someone here will be willing and able to answer it for you!

    justgojumpit
     
  4. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

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    Deb,

    I never get stung :haha: right!!

    I also have a bad reaction from bee stings and keep 2 epi-pens available. One I keep with me when I go into the apiary.

    I've had honeybee hives for 2 years (this will be my 3rd year). I can count on a few stings a year. When I do get a sting, scrape off the stinger immediately - don't try to pinch it off because you are more likely to introduce more venom into the skin. I take a double dose of benedryl, ice & elevate the stung area. This helps reduce the spread of the venom and redue swelling.
     
  5. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    I'll vouch for the fact the honeybees REALLY don't like wool...don't ask me how I know.
     
  6. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

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    I "normally" only get stung a couple of times a year. I agree with the warning of what colors to wear, and more than just the body odor you shouldn't wear perfume (or after shave) - or just come from a bath with smelly soap or shampo either. (they are attracted to the smell) You also shouldn't smell of beer etc., as they dislike it.

    As long as I'm quiet and calm (and slow), most of the time I get stung when I pinch one (behind my knee or between my arm and body or between the upper and lower arm). The only time that's not true (and I dress better for it) is when I'm robbing them. They are just protecting the hive though.

    Another tip (I don't see here) is not to work around them when the weather is changing (to rain) or during high humidity. They tend to be more defensive then.

    I totally agree with the more often you get stung, the less reaction you have too. I'll swell and itch on the first sting of the year, but after that one, I react to a bee sting like I do to a mosquito. My grandfather used to take his chaw (chewing tobacco) out, and use it for a poltice if one of us got stung when I was young. Now, other than the stricture of always scrap the stinger out, I don't use anything (including the first sting of the year).

    Again, if you stay quiet, calm and slow around them, watch them if they are getting agitated (normally because of a weather change) and leave when they tell you to because they are agitated, you will experience very few stings.

    Pat
     
  7. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    I'll second paying attention to the weather. I forgot to add that one in! As an elaboration to the weather topic, don't work the hive if the bees are not foraging, if you don't want to get stung. This includes cold, windy, or rainy weather. Also, very early in the morning or at dusk, when the bees stop leaving the hive to forage, is not the smartest time to work the bees. Of course, the commercial guys just deal with the weather because they have many hives to get through, and losing a day is often not an option.

    justgojumpit
     
  8. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I would ask a doctor about this one. A fair amount of swelling is normal for a beesting if it has been a while, as well as itching for a couple of days.

    But, an EXCESS of swelling can indicate an allergy, which can get WORSE with evey sting.

    For me, a yellow jacket sting, if untreated, will make a swelling the size and shape of half an orange, in about 30 minutes. I don't know what happens after that: I have always been able to get some benedryl by that time. Usually immediately, actually.

    I am allergic to yellow jackets, but not to honey bees. When I was a toddler I went into shock after being stung. But, as an adult I only get local reactions. My allergist tells me that I should ONLY get local reactions from now on, and while they feel awfull they are not dangerous. Toddlers are at a higher risk than us big people.

    I usually take benedryl and lay down after being stung by a yellow jacket. I no longer worry about my breathing because I have been told that anaphalactic shock is just not going to happen for me.
     
  9. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

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    Another thing, my tips (suggestions / rules?) only apply to your own hive(s). The bees know their owner. If you help someone else, or work someone else's bees you need to suit up like you are going to rob them. I had forgot this, and volunteered to help someone (part of our local bee club activities)... and got stung more that day than I normally do the whole year.

    I was offered 3 hives (to work in exchange for most of the honey) by a older gentleman who doesn't have the ability to work his bees anymore. (He like I have our bees for propogation, and the honey is a nice gift they give us, but is definitely not the prime reason we keep bees.) When I go over to work them, the first couple of times (until they get used to me), I'll suit up like I was going to rob them.

    Pat