PDA

View Full Version : What would be considered an allergic reaction to a bee sting?



timothyvanwing
07-18-2010, 08:54 PM
I've been stung plenty of times by Carolinian bees and it would sting and then it would be a little itchy. But now I got stung by a Buckfast bee on my wrist and my hand swelled up to about 4 times the size, the swelling went all the way up my forearm and swelled all my fingers. Today I got stung again by the same bee (buckfast) and I hardely swelled up at all, but it was still worse than when I get stung by a carny. Is this just a bad reaction or am i allergic to a buckfast breed of bee?
Thanks so much!

Monie
07-18-2010, 08:56 PM
I'm not a doctor, but I think ANY reaction to a sting is an allegic reaction.

Joseph Clemens
07-18-2010, 09:33 PM
What I've heard are that localized reactions are non-allergy based, no matter how bad the swelling but systemic reactions are usually allergy based and can be life-threatening. But very few things are "absolute".

Onehorse
07-19-2010, 04:43 AM
Based on my quick discussion with a nurse in the allergist's office (fiance' went the anaphlactic shock direction, so we get to go visit the allergist for testing), there are 5 different types of honeybees that they test for, so apparently all venom is not created the same. An localized reactions usually aren't considered allergic, even whole body reactions may or may not be considered allergic depending on where you get stung. If my fiance' got stung in a vein, it would trigger anaphlactic shock, but isn't necessarily an allergic reaction, just a direct line dose to the heart and the heart isn't very tolerate of things like that.

sqkcrk
07-19-2010, 05:15 AM
I'm not a doctor, but I think ANY reaction to a sting is an allegic reaction.

Yes and No. Yes, you aren't a Doctor. I'll take your word on that. No, any reaction to a sting is not an allergic reaction.

A true allergic reaction is one that results in anaphylactic shock. (sorry if i spelled it wrong) The most noticable part of this shock is a swelling and closing of the throat obsructing the airway.

Any other reaction to a bee sting is considered normal and not life threatening. Sweeling, itching, being stung here and swelling and/or itching somewhere else, all of these are normal reactions that often occur in people who don't get stung much or very often.

It doesn't mean that they aren't uncomfortable, just that they are normal, not life threatening and not to be feared. If you are going to keep bees, unless you are truely allergic, you aught to get stung every now and then so you won't have these normal reactions. Not having them will become the new normal.

I'm not a Doctor either. So don't take any of the above as medical advice. It isn't.

dbest
07-19-2010, 05:24 AM
I always tell my workers that its either going to kill them or its good for them.

sqkcrk
07-19-2010, 05:25 AM
there are 5 different types of honeybees that they test for, so apparently all venom is not created the same.

Is that what they said at the Doctors? "5 different types of honeybees"? Did they say honeybees? 'Cause here is where we can be instructive to allergists, because I think, if they didn't say it they actually meant "stinging and biting insects, including honeybees".

I wasn't there, so I don't know. But other than honeybees(apis mellifera) and bumblebees(bumbus bumbus) there probably aren't any other bees that they would be testing for.

Yellow jackets and other wasps are wasps, not honey bees. So, it would be nice if the Doctors knew that and didn't lump all allergic reactions to insect bites and stings on our honeybees. It gives the general public something else to fear.

So, please learn about bees, honeybees and other bees, and about wasps and then teach the Doctors the difference. It could matter. It could make a difference.

If nothing else, Doctor aught to know that if the stinger is still in the skin, at the sting site, then it was a honeybee. Otherwise it wasn't, most likely, unless the stinger was brushed off.

sqkcrk
07-19-2010, 05:26 AM
I always tell my workers that its either going to kill them or its good for them.

Not good for your worker bees though, right? :)

Bee Bliss
07-19-2010, 09:03 AM
Based on my quick discussion with a nurse in the allergist's office (fiance' went the anaphlactic shock direction, so we get to go visit the allergist for testing), there are 5 different types of honeybees that they test for, so apparently all venom is not created the same. An localized reactions usually aren't considered allergic, even whole body reactions may or may not be considered allergic depending on where you get stung. If my fiance' got stung in a vein, it would trigger anaphlactic shock, but isn't necessarily an allergic reaction, just a direct line dose to the heart and the heart isn't very tolerate of things like that.

In general, bee venom is very good for the heart, the brain and the body. It is just that your fiance is allergic, and a vein sting (never heard of that before) would probably make things happen faster which for him is not good.

Bee venom does enter the blood stream for all others also. It's not a bad thing and does have medicinal value as long as the person is not allergic. An allergic person, once over the bee venom allergy, can practice apitherapy (BVT) and benefit from that also.

Bee venom, like honeybees, gets a bad rap! ::Bee icon goes here:: :)

timothyvanwing
07-19-2010, 09:18 AM
Thanks guys for all of the thoughtful answers. So, Sometimes I can get stung in a more sensitive area and I swell more. Or is it just that the bee released more venom that time? So how long would it take for me to get "immune" towards the bee sting?

Bee Bliss
07-19-2010, 09:29 AM
When a honeybee stings, the stinger and the venom sac remains behind. The venom will continue to pump into the tissue for up to 25 minutes or until the sac and stinger is removed. The longer it remains in the skin, the more venom is delivered.

Individuals and individual stings can be different. Some areas just swell more because it is a small area (hand/finger) or an area with little tissue (forehead) so swelling must go outward.

sebee
07-19-2010, 09:47 AM
Yesterday I got stung a handful of times doing a cutout. The reaction to the stings ranged from swelling and itchiness, to not even being able to find the sting location after 5 minutes. And these were all bee from the same colony.

I think, as with so many things with beekeeping, there are enough variables, ie location of the sting, how long the stinger was in you, the particular bee that stung you, etc, that it is difficult to say, "I react to bee stings like...".

As long as reactions are localized and non-systemic, you are not what I consider to be allergic. But then again, Im not a doctor.

Idahobeek
07-19-2010, 10:01 AM
I find my variations in reactions frustrating and/or interesting, depending on how you look at it. Just when I think I am past having lots of swelling and itching, one of them hammers me and I swell and itch like crazy. I wonder if their venom varies in either potency of volume given different factors, perhaps age or something else. Like the previous poster stated, one time I won't be able to find the sting site in a few minutes, the next one looks like I was beaten by a gang of thugs.

Although, as explained by my dr. an allergic reaction is much different from the bodies natural reaction and defense to a sting, and usually involves breathing difficulties which require medical attention even if an epi pen was administered. I think he was making sure I knew that as he prescribed me a pen so I wouldn't just skip a visit should I have an allergic reaction. It's almost like he knows me to well.

Onehorse
07-19-2010, 03:58 PM
In general, bee venom is very good for the heart, the brain and the body. It is just that your fiance is allergic, and a vein sting (never heard of that before) would probably make things happen faster which for him is not good.

Bee venom does enter the blood stream for all others also. It's not a bad thing and does have medicinal value as long as the person is not allergic. An allergic person, once over the bee venom allergy, can practice apitherapy (BVT) and benefit from that also.

Bee venom, like honeybees, gets a bad rap! ::Bee icon goes here:: :)

We don't know if he is allergic to bee venom or not, that's for the allergist, but I would think that bee venom is similiar to antibiotics or vaccines, in that IM injections are good, IV cause shock. Both wind up in the blood stream, but the heart can't handle IV antibiotics or vaccines and probably not bee venom either. I could be wrong and waiting for August 31st for answers.

Onehorse
07-19-2010, 04:03 PM
Is that what they said at the Doctors? "5 different types of honeybees"? Did they say honeybees? 'Cause here is where we can be instructive to allergists, because I think, if they didn't say it they actually meant "stinging and biting insects, including honeybees".

I wasn't there, so I don't know. But other than honeybees(apis mellifera) and bumblebees(bumbus bumbus) there probably aren't any other bees that they would be testing for.

Yellow jackets and other wasps are wasps, not honey bees. So, it would be nice if the Doctors knew that and didn't lump all allergic reactions to insect bites and stings on our honeybees. It gives the general public something else to fear.

So, please learn about bees, honeybees and other bees, and about wasps and then teach the Doctors the difference. It could matter. It could make a difference.

If nothing else, Doctor aught to know that if the stinger is still in the skin, at the sting site, then it was a honeybee. Otherwise it wasn't, most likely, unless the stinger was brushed off.


I asked that question, did she mean honeybees or honeybees, wasps, yellow jackets, etc. She seemed to think it was 5 different types of honeybees; wasps and yellow jackets were additional, but I will clarify in the near future. We did pick this allergist because they do work with beekeepers and want to try and get him back into the hive, versus the others that I talked with that recommended staying away from the hives at all costs.

AltamontBee
07-20-2010, 07:24 PM
I've been reading this thread with interest- I've been keeping bees for 3 years, and up until now, reactions have ranged from slight redness to an extremely swollen foot - all of which I considered to be local reactions.

We did a cutout the other day, and I got stung 3 times. On the way home, I noticed my lips felt tingly (but did not look swollen), my tongue felt thick, and my throat felt slightly swollen-like when you've been sick or crying. Breathing did not seem to be affected at all. I chalked it up to multiple stings, or the amount of dust and debris in the old shack we were getting the bees out of.

We went back to get any remaining "field bees" that might have been out, and I got stung once and had the same reaction.

This is sounding more like a allergic reaction to me, which seems bizarre after three years. I have an appointment with an allergist on the 30th. We'll see....
Jennifer

Onehorse
07-20-2010, 07:35 PM
What you are experiencing is similiar to my fiance' experience, but he also got the hives and the shortness of breathe, was yawning a lot for 8 in the morning. Starting to recommend epi-pens for all beekeepers to carry. I know, I know, you should have been from the beginning, but who ever thinks it's going to happen to them.

FindlayBee
07-26-2010, 07:08 AM
My experience with bee stings this year.

I am a first year beekeeper.

I got stung hiving a package on my second hive. She got me on the wrist. It hurt, turned a bit read, and there was some swelling about the size of a quarter where the stinger had been.

The next day I got stung on the palm of my right hand. It hurt, and soon after it just turned a bit red. Nothing major with it. This was during the hiving of another package of bees. About 20 minutes later I got stung again on the neck while getting ready to get in my van and leave. That one also swelled up around the sting about the size of a quarter and turned red.

A couple of weeks ago I got stung on the first joint on one of my fingers on my right hand. The second joint swelled up as far as my skin would allow it to swell. It hurt to bend my finger due to the pressure caused by the swelling. It took about 3 days for the swelling to go down.

I got stung again this past Sunday on the knuckle of my my right hand middle finger. She put the stinger is straight and she looked like a bee on a stick wiggling about. I was holding a bar using both hands so she was there for a bit while I put things back. Flipped her off... and flicked the stinger out. It hurt, but didn't do anything until the next day. My hand has swollen up nice and puffy making it hard to make a fist. The joints on all my fingers have swollen up to about 2x the normal size, and I my fingers are a bit swollen as well. During this inspection the bees did not like me at all being in the hive. I have a black handled knife that I brought to harvest some honey from the top bars. As soon as I used the knife to cut through some propolis 10 or more bees attacked the handle. I didn't get stung, but I could see them trying to sting the handle. I need to find a white handled knife.

These pictures do not show my knuckles very well. Most of the swelling either had not started yet or had already gone down. The swelling of my knuckles was mostly during Sunday afternoon. The swelling as gone down as of today (Monday Morning).

http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii244/VintageRifle/Honey%20Bees/IMG_1714-1.jpg

http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii244/VintageRifle/Honey%20Bees/IMG_1717-1.jpg

beemerry
07-26-2010, 08:23 AM
A year ago when I bought my first Canadian Buckfast bees I thought the stings were more painfull than previous stings which I had received.(like having jalopena juice dabbed on a cut). The duration of the pain was no longer than that of other bee stings. Also, these bees do not sting a lot-I do not often wear protective gear to examine hives. I also have varied reactions to stings - the most prolonged seem to be those on my forearms.

honeyman46408
07-26-2010, 03:54 PM
FindlayBee

I hope you dont get stung on the ring finger you could bee in trouble if you do, so think about removeing the ring before working the bees.

FindlayBee
07-26-2010, 09:36 PM
I try to remember to take my ring off. However, after having it on 10 years, its easy to leave it on. One thing I do know is, it will be extremely hard to get it off if I got stung on my left hand. So far, its only been my right hand. I think this makes #4 for that hand this year.

WI-beek
07-27-2010, 03:27 AM
In reference to these pics





I have been stung several times this year: in the face once (swelled like a little zit) and then in the fingers through my gloves so many time I dont know how many, probably twenty or more. The ones through my glove are not real stings just those itchy ones like you got into burning nettles or something.

Last week I checked in on my bees then came home and laid down for a nap before work. I sat down on my bed and took of my pants and such and set my alarm. I laid down fell asleep then felt something crawling on my back and being that I have seen some kind of wierd bugs crawling around lately I kind of freaked out and tried to get it off me. Ouch, the dang thing bit me on the hand, and man it hurt. I felt something on my hand and pulled it out. I thought what the heck, the dang things sting. I got up and looked around and sure enough there were one of those dang bugs crawling on the floor, so I killed it and laid back down, now freaking out about these things knowing they sting and now it was hurting and starting to swell. Aw man, what am I going to do I thought, how can I sleep with these dang things crawling around the house. Anyway when I woke up thank goodness, I saw a honeybee crawling on the floor dieing. I say thank goodness becuase at least I new it was the honeybee and I dont have to fear sleeping with some stinging bugs all around the house. Anyway to the point (I did not mean to write a column for the paper here) but my hand swelled up exactly like the pic above. Im guessing because a grabbed it and pulled it out instead of scraping it off like normal. The next day I was stung in the finger on the other hand, scraped it off and got my normal reaction, a little bump the size of a zit and was gone two hours later, just a red mark left where stinger was. Its amazing how much different one sting can be to the next I guess. My left hand was still swollen when I got stung on the finger which hardly had no reaction at all. Go figure.

AltamontBee
07-30-2010, 12:13 PM
I just got back from the allergist. Any local swelling and redness is just that - a local reaction. She thinks that when my lips, tongue, and throat started tingling/slight swelling, it might have been a mild allergic reaction. She gave me a prescription for an epi-pen in the meantime, and I go back in for a venom test to see if I am actually allergic or not.

She said that if I am, they have a 98% success rate with desensitizing patients with bee venom therapy.

Jennifer

AltamontBee
08-26-2010, 05:07 PM
I got tested at the allergists today, and it turns out I am allergic to bee stings. Guess it wasn't just in my head!
I start the desensitization shots next week. Kind of an inconvenience, but better than the alternative.

Jennifer

Onehorse
08-26-2010, 08:04 PM
Just curious, how do they determine that you are allergic? Fiance' just got a new job, so we are in the 90 day wait. But, was curious, if they used a skin test, how do they determine an allergy versus a reaction.

timothyvanwing
08-27-2010, 08:39 AM
They would take your blood I'm pretty sure. And then add the bee venom. or something. I'm not 100% positive, but that's what i've heard.

AltamontBee
08-28-2010, 05:31 PM
At the allergists they did what they called a venom series. They tested for honeybee, wasp, a few types of hornets, and a control shot of histamine.

They injected very dilute venom - gradually getting stronger. I didn't react to the honeybee until the last series, and never to any of the others.

I don't know exactly how they differentiate between local and allegeric reactions (I'll ask when I over next week), but I do know that on the last series the honey bee spot was the only one that reacted - the others had absolutely nothing, even though I usually do react locally to them.

Again, I'll find out and get back to you - good question!

Jennifer

bradley39482
09-18-2010, 05:35 AM
hey ya'll
never had bad reactions to be stings, but was going to peek in on my Russian bees, big mistake, got stung 2 times on the forearm and once on the back, my back did as most people, local about the size of a quarter, my forearm is a different story. it has swollen my whole arm, and hands, went to bed thinking it would go down, took some benadryl, now my bicep is swelling as well, have never had this happen before, been stung countless times, funny thing is my feet were itching like crazy after the sting's. my wife is an RN and she is not happy with me, she said if the swelling does not go down, the swelling could get to my heart, something else to consider also was the tissue, swelling of tissue around the heart. i'm not that concerned, but if the swelling isn't down by Sunday night, i might be a little worried!

bigbearomaha
09-18-2010, 07:42 AM
thought I'd throw my two cents in here as well. though it's down to 1 cent now because sqk stole my thunder. That''s ok though because he's right in his earlier posts.


In regard to epi-pens, I don't recommend that all beekeepers carry one. first, it's illegal to have one if you don't have a prescription for yourself.

Second, people tend to get a little over-enthusiastic if they have access to things like epi-pens and might use them incorrectly.

Thirdly, I do recommend that all beekeepers get trained in how to use an epi-pen as you can be a big help to someone who does need and have an epi-pen. it is difficult in many cases for someone to inject themselves. having someone present who knows it's proper use can maybe save their life.

Which is something else I would like to recommend. I suggest to all new beekeepers who come to learn at the conservation bee yard to always have a "bee buddy", an assistant, someone to help out. It's always good to have an extra set of hands around and it's very good to have someone who can help or go get help if something unexpected comes up (like the 10 year beekeeper who finds that suddenly, they are allergic).

having a bee buddy not only is a help, but it gives you someone to share the experience with. someone to verify that you saw what you saw (those crazy bees did what?) and did what you did (that crazy beekeeper did what?)

enjoy the bees
Big Bear

Jeffrey Todd
12-24-2010, 02:16 AM
You cannot go far wrong in having an Epipen available; the downside to using one is a lot less than the downside to NOT using it if someone is having an anaphylactic reaction. If you are doing a cutout and a person with a life threatening reaction is stung it is far better for both of you to use the Epi pen. It has some possible side effects, of course, but they are not nearly as dangerous as anaphylaxis.
Bee sting reactions may also be dose related. In other words, one sting may not kill an allergic person but five stings could.
Anyone who has had a systemic reaction (hives, itching, cough, diarrhea, runny nose, sneezing, feeling of impending doom, wheezing, etc.) needs to see an allergist to be tested and should, without a doubt, carry an epipen at all times.
My son is highly allergic to honeybee stings and starts allergy shots next month. My bees will be moving to a new location this winter as well to protect him.

Risky Beesness
01-08-2011, 04:54 PM
So how often does one get a sting? Is it usually through carelessness and complacency, or is it just a matter a fact, no matter what precautions you take?

I have severe allergies to pollen (cedar, ragweed, etc.) but have never reacted to any insect sting. I got nailed twice by a scorpion about two months ago. He was in my shorts when I pulled them on as I was getting out of bed. Got me on the back of the leg and then again on the palm when I grabbed my leg. I had no reaction at all. It just P'd me off.