View Full Version : Bee stings.....Is this normal?
07-31-2006, 02:47 PM
The band I had around my gloves on Saturday came off and I got a few (maybe 4-6 stings) on my wrist. This is probably my first bee sting since I was a kid. The swelling is getting worse...not better. I had a swollen area that was about 2 in x 3 in but now it's moving down my arm and it's almost to the inner part of my elbow. The place I got stung on my hand, through my gloves, is swollen to the point that I don't have knuckles anymore.
Is this normal? Shouldn't it be getting better...not worse?
07-31-2006, 02:51 PM
Everyone reacts differently to stings, especaily if it has been awhile since you got stung. If it gets worse, or you have problems breathing, get yourself to the ER as soon as possible. Also, I would suggest you get a real pair of beekeeping gloves, they don't require rubberbands to keep them on, LOL.
07-31-2006, 03:26 PM
I always had the understanding that once the swelling had set in and some time had passed, the chances for an anaphylactic reaction was basically nil. Can anyone confirm a case after 24 hours of swelling? I have never heard of one.
07-31-2006, 03:38 PM
Hello there - We're new and don't have any hives...yet! But I have had a sting that swelled like you're talking about flipflop. It was on the wrist as well and I still have a small scar from it. If I remember correctly the swelling lasted three days, and was fairly uncomfortable and eventually progressed to hot red streaks and swelling up past my elbow. I was told by our doctor that as long as there's good blood flow to the fingers to not be too concerned. He also reassured me that if I was going to have an allergic reaction worthy of an ER visit it would have happened within the first 30 minutes or so as a rule.
I've been stung since, and never had that reaction, so I don't know why it happened that time.
07-31-2006, 03:43 PM
Almost forgot - this is a pretty good page for bee stings from Ohio state:
JohnK and Sheri
07-31-2006, 03:48 PM
Extreme swelling is pretty common. I had to have a ring cut off because I got just 1 sting on the back of my hand.....so if you have any rings on, take them off! And be glad you didn't get stung in the nose. smile.gif
07-31-2006, 03:54 PM
If I get stung on the hand I usually get some swelling up to near the elbow. It usually lasts three days and has pretty well subsided by day four.
Four to six stings is a fair amount of venom to someone who hasn't gotten stung much. I would not be too worried, but I would keep an eye on things.
Most beekeepers talk about how they don't react to stings much, but I just don't get stung all that often.
07-31-2006, 04:33 PM
>I always had the understanding that once the swelling had set in and some time had passed, the chances for an anaphylactic reaction was basically nil.
That's my understanding Iddee.
As for stings, I've been using a plantain poultice on stings this year, and the effect is miraculous, especially if I can get the poultice on quickly and keep it on for at least 20 minutes. It reduces the pain, swelling, and subsequent itching. It's rare if I still have any effects at all from a sting after 24 hours. Even if I can't get it on for 30 minutes, it still helps. It's rare when you can't find plantain growing someplace nearby.
Michael Bush pointed out plantain as a sting remedy and like most of Michael's advice, it was right on. Of course, Michael didn't invent it, plantain is an age-old sting remedy. Since I don't have any plantain growing in my apiary, I collected a bunch from my yard and ground it up in a blender with some rubbing alcohol. I keep it in a tighly capped jar in my truck. If I don't have that available, then I just chew up a few plantain leaves and hold the mess on the sting site, sometimes I'll afix it with a bandaid, a strip of burlap or something similar. The other day I got stung on my ankle and I just stuffed a wad of chewed plantain into my sock.
Search for plantain on this site and you'll find lots of information.
07-31-2006, 05:05 PM
Ah haaaa, someone else who reacts like me. No reaction to the initial sting. Swelling starts about 18-20hrs later. Gets worse for the next 72-96hrs, then begins to shrink for another 3 days. And, by the way, it engulfs the entire arm to the shoulder.
Out of curiosity, are you being treated for blood pressure using an ACE inhibitor ?? The doc thinks that this is interacting badly.
07-31-2006, 09:11 PM
Nope, I'm not taking any medications. It just seemed odd to me for it to have such a delayed reaction like this. Glad I didn't have any rings on. :D I've hadn't heard of using plantain. I'll have to do a little research on that.
08-01-2006, 02:56 AM
Try plantain, you'll be impressed. Searching for "plantain bee sting" on Google turns up plenty of hits. I used to have 3-4 day reactions to bee stings like most people, now in most cases I can't even tell where I was stung 24 hours later. As I said, it helps to get it on quickly. If you can apply a poultice within a few minutes and keep it on the sting site with a bandage of some sort, almost all symptoms of the sting but for a slight soreness will be gone in a few hours. At least that's my experience.
08-01-2006, 03:37 AM
I'm a sweller. A couple of weeks back I got nailed about ten times on my ankle. swelling lasted about 3-4 days. I also had a high fever the night after the stings. My eyes got a little ichy too.
08-01-2006, 03:55 AM
Geez if I got 10 stings in one episode, I'd consider that a Very Bad Day(tm) and I'd be pondering what I'd done wrong. I've only been stung 7 times this year so far and with a few exceptions, I've been largely at-fault. I've gotten soooo used to not getting stung. I attribute it in part to better technique and in part to my Epiphany for Beekeepers (propolis oil) and when I do get stung, well, plantain just takes the sting out of it smile.gif
08-01-2006, 07:22 PM
The last (and really the only) really bad reaction I had was over a year ago now. I haven't had any real reaction since.
I would not take tylenol or ibupropen before working the bees. There have been reports that they cause more reaction. Since I never take either, I can't say from personal experience.
Links to research on the subject have been posted in the past. I'd try a search on here for them if you're interested.
08-02-2006, 12:22 AM
My son is seeing an Allergist for seasonal allergies,and I asked him about bee stings as I sometimes swell up just as you described.
She told me there can be massive swelling in the area of the sting radiating outward. If the swelling does NOT pass a joint, hands and feet excluded then it's considered a local reaction. If it does swell beyond a joint, then you're considered sensitive, any hives, uncontrollable sneezing etc...better get an epi-pen
08-02-2006, 05:06 AM
This is my first post here, but I've been a lurker for several months now. First off let me say that this site is very informative and has helped me with my first hive (started late, in May).
I've been stung three times total, every time has been my fault. Bees don't seem to like being squeezed! The first and last times I have been stung (the 2nd sting was on my calloused thumb and I had no reaction at all)I've swelled, starting immediately, for several days in the location of the sting. This last time, I was stung (on Monday) on the ring finger of my left hand. My finger and hand swelled up enough to hide my joints! It's still swollen as I type but has become manageable again.
In other words...I need to do a search on plantain!
For me the swelling and itching is always worse on the second day. It seems that people's reactions differ. Plantain helps but I don't always put it on right away or hold it on for long enough as I feel very little pain, swelling, itching right after being stung. The quicker I apply it and the longer I hold it the less I suffer on the following days. I also notice that the hotter the outside temp the worse my reaction to a sting. If availabile I apply an ice pack over the plantain. (That is: when I'm good ;) )
When I applied plantain right away and held for 30 min or more I had no swelling on the next day, otherwise ice helps at any stage.
Good luck and be sure to give plantain a try. It grows everywhere as a weed but it's a true friend.
08-02-2006, 07:58 AM
The stings and swelling is also worse for me on the second day...the intial sting only hurts for about a minute..then there is no sign of it. By the next day it has swelled up to look like a bad bug bite and it itches for about 4 days afterward. The last time I got stung I was going into a hot hive (unknown to me) and the guy I was working with wasn't using a smoker. As soon as we popped the inner cover we were both covered..I got four stings on my hands instantly. Three on my left hand....for the next two days my hand was pretty swollen..no knuckles...hand was pretty achey...but it was just my hand.
08-02-2006, 09:04 AM
>Geez if I got 10 stings in one episode, I'd consider that a Very Bad Day(tm)
Geez, I've had many bad days then
>and I'd be pondering what I'd done wrong.
me too, I think it was because I took up beekeeping.
> I've gotten soooo used to not getting stung.
I've gotten so used to being stung.
>I attribute it in part to better technique
Could that bee my problem??
08-02-2006, 09:28 AM
And I agree with Dick Allen all the way, except I've had 10 to 15 bad days all wrapped into one hour, if 10 stings make a bad day.
Boy, I'm glad my mama didn't have any kids that lived. :confused: :confused: :D
08-02-2006, 10:07 AM
Sometimes everything is going great. The sun is shining, the bees are flying. You are working a hive and observing your bees with that childhood fascination only beekeepers know.
Then, out of the blue, one pops you! You say "OW!", remove the stinger and continue on. But, then a few seconds later another pops you! You say "OW!" again, this time followed by *&^!@((%!!. Just as you are removing the second sting, two more hit you, then another, then another. Now you are swearing up a blue streak at the bees, and all the warm, fuzzy feelings you have for your bees have gone right out the window. You have to close the hive and get away while taking several more oaths against those stinging little [expletive] bees.
Next day, you try it again. This time the bees are better beehaved and all is forgiven.
08-02-2006, 12:07 PM
Your post cracked me up..."OW! again, this time followed by *&^!@((%!!" When I was cutting the comb out of the pumphouse they were in and putting in the hive they were VERY pissed off at me so we that gloved slipped off my wrist they were more than happy to let me have it.
I thinks I used more cuss words and wood glue than I ever have in my entire life trying to assembled my frames...those nails are long and the frames so fragile.
Oh well, no matter the frustrations or swollen wrists.....this sure is FUN!!!
08-02-2006, 12:37 PM
>Then, out of the blue, one pops you!
Ayuh, there ain't no warning.. or is there? You probably didn't notice them bees all lined up between the frames, looking up at you.. I want to see bee-butts when I'm going into a hive, not bee-faces! If they're watching you, you can bet they're not thinking warm fuzzy thoughts!
It seems like most of the time I get stung I've just said something like "I don't need my smoker, I'm just going to....."
08-04-2006, 08:50 AM
I've never understood that "past a joint" rationale. It's not in any of the research I've read. If you get stung an inch from your elbow, or just past your wrist, I can't figure how the swelling crossing the joint line is any different than any other swelling. Swelling or urticaria remote from the sting site has always been the criteria I look for. I mean, I've had stings on my fingertip and when the swelling almost reached my wrist that's three joints over, right?
08-04-2006, 08:52 AM
Oh and Carla? Consider shoes. Flip flops lead to stings on the underside of toes in my experience :D .
08-04-2006, 09:38 AM
>I want to see bee-butts when I'm going into a hive, not bee-faces!
Right on! When they line up on the top bars, I always think of that scene in braveheart where he's rallying the troops. Makes me wonder if there's a bee painted blue and white, marching up and down the top bar, rallying them to attack.
>If they're watching you, you can bet they're not thinking warm fuzzy thoughts
Sure they are. They're thinking, "Won't the hive be nice and warm and fuzzy once we drive the idiot in the white suit away?"
08-04-2006, 09:46 AM
"Oh and Carla? Consider shoes. Flip flops lead to stings on the underside of toes in my experience"
I wear my muck boots to work with the bees. I got that name because whenever possible, I wear my OLD birkenstocks....not the new ones. smile.gif One day while walking in the pasture I stepped in a HUGE cow pie and well you can just imagine how it filled my shoe....Eeeewww! :D
[ August 04, 2006, 11:47 AM: Message edited by: FlipFlopFarmer ]