What should happen upon repeated stings

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Ed K, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    I've had two hives of bees for several months now.

    Almost every time I've worked with them I've been stung at least once.

    It was usually my fault

    Kneeling on a bee near the hive
    Removing my veil too soon after leaving the hive etc.
    And of course trying to work the bees without smoke (which was my first attempt which garnered me a bunch of stings)

    I haven't worn gloves but have worn long pants, a jacket with high collar and a veil.

    This weekend, I got sting once on the back of my hand. (It was definitely a bee because I saw it finish stinging me) Instead of a small amount of inflamation I got an extremely puffy hand the next day which hasn't gone down after two days.

    Several questions

    1) I thought repeated exposure to stings would increase my immunity to stings. Can it also cause a more severe allergy to stings?

    2) Should I wear gloves?

    3) Should I expect to get stung every time I work the bees?

    Thanks
     
  2. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I have no answer to your sting questions, but I ALSO once tried opening a hive without smoke. Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi! :eek: I had heard it could be done, so I tried it on a hive that had been gentle beyond belief. HA!

    As for being stung, I rarely am. I make a concious decision to move deliberately and smoothly, all the time reminding myself "I am not a bear, I am not a bear" to keep myself from hurrying and getting jerky.

    Tell me, do you know the bit about not wearing dark clothes? I wish to add to that. Don't wear butter-yellow, either. The bees are WAAY to curious about this color and it makes me nervous. It would be so EASY to drop my arm and squash a bee that way! :viking:
     

  3. vtfarma

    vtfarma Well-Known Member

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    I had no reaction the first time I was stung by our bees - at least none to speak of. The next time it was 2 stings and about 3 weeks later and I puffed up a bit - 2 months later I got stung on the head - they got under the edge of my veil and stuck in my hair - I went to move the hat so it didn't pinch them - I looked like a monster for a week. Scary. My throat tightened, and I was ill. I now too move slowly and deliberately. If anyone is going to be stung working the bees it will be me. Most will tell you it builds immunity - not in all cases so be careful and talk to you doctor.
     
  4. Orville

    Orville Well-Known Member

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    If you are exhibiting increasing symptoms after a sting, have a bee-sting kit handy. If you happen to get stung several times, having developed an allergy, it really can be really fatal. I've been stung off and on, but never show more than a mild local redness and very minor swelling. Except for the time I learned about separating supers in the fall without using smoke. Dumb, dumb, dumb. My bees put on their best africanized personalities and stung the crap out of me, even through my clothes where they were tight against my skin. I did swell up that time, but it was due to the great number of stings. I've been stung a few times since with minimal reaction. Anyway, bee careful. Afterthought. I like to sit and watch my bees. I usually sit about 4 to 5 feet away and observe them at work. They usually don't bother me, but recently one stung me on the end of my nose for no apparent reason. I recently requeened the hive, so I'm hoping the new bees will be more docile.
     
  5. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When I first started working bee's, when I got stung I'd puff up like a basketball and itch madly for about a week. Gradually, it's gotten to where I'll puff up a marble sized area for an hour or so, and itch a bit for a day.

    As for gloves, I've discovered the joys of dishgloves. Give all the feel of bare hands, with good anti-sting protection. If the stinger goes through, and once in a while it does, I pull the glove up in that area, and the stinger pops out. One pair lasts several years.

    At first, working bees, I'd get stung quite regularly. Mostly from inexperience. Now days, I don't get stung all that often, but it certainly happens. It is par for the course, especially in late summer and fall, when the bees are at their most defensive.
     
  6. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    I seldom use smoke and almost never wear a mask--up until now that is.

    I work carefully, but not so carefully that I do not mash a bee now and then. I lift frames, move supers, do everything that any other beekeeper does, and I get stung. More than about a dozen and I go get the smoker.

    I wear whatever I happen to have on when I start to the apiary. Yesterday it was jeans and a dark checked shirt from Walmart/China, wringing wet with sweat. First hive, one sting to the earlobe, so I decided it was smoker day and that ended the stinging.

    I use burlap for smoker fuel, my beekeeping buddy uses torn jeans, whatever he has handy, seems to get the same results.

    That said, the report is that the killer bee/africanized honey bee is about 50 miles south of here. One report of them in this area and I do not go out to a swarm without a full suit, nor do I examine any hives but my own without a suit.
    Ox
     
  7. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Everyone has a different response to stings. My DH doesn't even swell up unless he gets one on the head somewhere. But he has kept bees for over 30 years and moves slowly and delibertly around them...'cause he knows what he's doing! He rarely wears a veil and never gloves. Me, I wear the whole shebang as I'm slow as can be getting into a hive and am an allergic person to boot...know I'd have problems if I got stung too many times. I really think it is prudent to,at least,wear a veil.
    If the bees are busy with a honey flow on a bright and sunny day they probably won't even notice you...but pick a cool/windy/cloudy day to work them and you will surely make them grumpy. Sometimes that's the only time you have....the organize yourself well and get in/get out! We'd have to refill feeders in the cool spring. You can pretty well tell how things are going by just sitting watching them...my DH says every second there should be 2 bees coming and going, 120 a minute. He will stand there and count. Less and maybe you have a problem with failing queen or robbing or something. DEE
     
  8. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    I've always heard that you can develop allergic reactions to bee stings as you get older and that the more often you get stung the more likely to develop reaction. Dunno.
     
  9. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    I would watch your reactions for a while. Three things could happen: your reaction could get worse = get an epi pen and bee suit and/or think about how important beekeeping is to you... or your reactions could stay the same... get an epi pen incase you get multiple stings at once and keep watching your reactions... or your reactions could decrease= keep watching your reactions, an epi pen would be nice to have just in case. I fall in the third category... luckily! Make sure you know how your body reacts to multiple stings so you can be prepared when the time comes!

    justgojumpit
     
  10. Oregonsparkie

    Oregonsparkie Well-Known Member

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    When I first started beekeeping - sometimes a single sting would cause my whole arm to swell up, now I get little reaction. Got stung about 8 times last friday with only a small amount of swelling.

    My personal belief is the reaction you get is related to what the bees have been into.
     
  11. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    wouldn't you know it.
    after posting on this board I got stung by a yellow jacket/hornet not sure of the difference, and it was on my 6 yr old sons head so I knocked it off and tried to swat it and it nailed me on my arm and swelled up my arm from wrist to elbow. Looked like popeye. found the nest too. they were coming in a small hole in our siding. must have thousands of them. looked like something in science fiction, as there were so many coming and going. can't believe I didn't notice these things before. been spraying the hole for threee four days now and only see one come once in awhile. they were very aggressive.scary
     
  12. BeesNBunnies

    BeesNBunnies Schnauzer nut

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    Yes you can get more sensitive to an allergen every time you are exposed. Sometimes you don't have an allergic reaction until it builds up in your system. This is what an allergist told me. I suit up each time I go to work my bees. Don't know if I'm allergic to them or not. I've been so careful about suiting up that none have gotten through. Chances are pretty good than I am allergic to them since I have severe reactions to wasp stings. Even when I had some africanized bees when I did beekeeping in Texas none got through(I was just starting and was too ignorant to realise they were africanized until one day I helped a fella work his hives and asked....why aren't they stinging us yet?). If you start having trouble swallowing or breathing get to an emergency room immediately. A severe allergic reaction can literally kill you.
     
  13. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    I am still spraying these darn yellowjackets going in our siding. been about a week to ten days. I'm afraid to seal up the holes in siding as I'm afraid they'll come into the house to escape. we are killing a few everyday in the laundry room in our basement. that room has no windows so they are getting in there thru the wall
     
  14. BeesNBunnies

    BeesNBunnies Schnauzer nut

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    Have you seen the actual nest? They may be just entering and exiting through the wall. Their nest may be in the attic. Try setting off a bug bomb up there. Last rental I lived in had wasps really really bad as it was an old frame house with no insulation. Bombing the attic cut down on their numbers quite a bit. But beware the wasps may come in around ceiling fans and such to get away from the fumes.
     
  15. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the info
    We have been putting up two glue boards at night in front of nest openings and are getting about 200 per day and using bee sprays,