Sting Reaction
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Thread: Sting Reaction

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Freeland, MI, USA
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    Default Sting Reaction

    So I've had bees for four years now and have only been stung twice up until this year. Did my first cutout this year and was stung twice (barely getting past my nitrile gloves) and I've never had any more of a reaction that some mild itching. Anyway, I happen to be showing someone some nuc hives I had set up when I got stung behind my right ear. I was a little surprised that I was stung since I've never been stung just observing the hives before but no big deal. I scraped the stinger out and had another bee "escort" me all the way back to the house. Within a few minutes I felt itchy and had red bumps break out all over my chest and waistline. Knowing this wasn't a good reaction, I took some Benadryl and was watching my symptoms to make sure I didn't need to go to the emergency room. Everything had mostly vanished within 3 hours. This prompted me to see my doctor, who immediately perscribed me an EpiPen and told me if I got stung again my reaction would be even worse. I'll soon be getting an appointment with an allergist to determine how bad my reactions are and perhaps desensitization therapy. I'm trying not to get all depressed and think the worst (like I need to stop beekeeping and sell off everything) but my mind keeps going back there. Has anyone out there had a similar experience? What did you do?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Raiford, Florida
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    I swell, itch and am sore at the sting location. But I have never experienced this. What I would be most concerned about is breathing., swelling of the tongue, throat and larynx. I would not be in a rush, I would wait to see the allergist. In the mean time, suit up before going out into the hive yard. I have been stung more times standing 15 feet away than I have standing at the entrance of the hive.
    So, now I walk up close to the hive tom make conversation or observation.
    I actually get stung the most from opening the top board. I was stung twice yesterday, once between the eyes.
    My2Cents
    I will bless (Praise) the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Benton county, Arkansas
    Posts
    838

    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    Opening is sometimes the worst. Two or three soldiers are ready for action. I think the reaction comes from being so long without being stung. Once a week works for me. is just like a mosquito bite.

  5. #4
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    May 2015
    Location
    Champaign, Illinois
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    2,461

    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    I'm not a medical doctor. Am a beekeeper. I stayed at a Motel 6 last night so my advice is to not listen to free medical advice given on the internet.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    I'd take my next sting in the parking lot for the ER during regular hours if it were me. Having reaction elsewhere than sting site and local surrounding area isn't good.

    That said... your body hasn't been able to process venom enough, but exposed to bees. Michael Palmer has a video about the importance of being stung which is just a few minutes long and probably a good lesson for anyone keeping bees to take to heart. I have been stung so much this year that I've almost quite reacting. A little itching, but swelling is almost nonexistant. Last year, one sting to the wrist area would cause my hand to swell so bad I couldn't close my fist. I've been stung in the fingers something like 15 times in the last couple weeks and haven't had more than a red spot.

    Good luck to you!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Louisville, Colorado, USA
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    1,542

    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    I have an allergy also. I used to get stung often enough and no problems other that the itching next day.
    Then one time I had the same reaction as you. It got worse over time and I now have an Epi.

    I have all the allergy meds also, benadryl, pepcid etc.

    The last few times I got stung I had allergic symptoms but not severe,,,,, a little chest pain and mild feelings of drowsiness.
    I am very careful when I work the bees.

    Next time I go to the doc I am going to ask about the allergy treatment. I want to have fewer worries about being stung.

    The advice to go out and get yourself stung more is not good advice if you are allergic.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Cullman, Alabama, USA
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    1,240

    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    In year one ( 2013 ), I took a sting to the chest, it hurt, but not so much that I removed it, being interested in bee venom therapy at that instant ( first sting from my own honey bees). no systemic reaction.
    A month or so later, trying "bare handed" bee work, another bee from the same hive got me on the index finger. ( other stings through the suit, through gloves etc in between). At the time of the finger sting, I was suffering from kidney stones & a kidney tract infection, taking anti-biotics.
    I pinched the stinger to get it out ( year one, remember) & probably forced all the venom into the sting site. my hand swelled up, I had systemic reactions, I guess, muscle aches, jointaches, itchiness of the palms feet & groin. maybe some other symptoms I may have forgotten, but they lasted 2 or 3 days.
    I decided to get tested "when I get around to it". Finally in late December I went to allergist , trying to get the charges on that years insurance, since kidney stones & infection had already covered my deductable.
    Allergist told me I would not be tested just because I asked for it, then read my sting story which I had logged, since it was a new experience at the time. Alergist decided I should be tested.
    This cost my ins company about $22-2300 in 2013. WOW. If out of pocket i might have just dumped beekeeping.
    Alergist results showed me to be somewhat "sensitive" to yellow jackets ( next to last venom panel) & to a lesser degree, ( last panel) honey bees.
    I had been to my family doctor a couple of weeks earlier, whom had prescrbed an epipen right up front, & offered a blood test of some sort, ( which I declined, since the allergist visit was more comprehensive & that was the route I was going anyway) & refered me to the alergist.
    The alergist staff pretty much chewed me out for not taking the whole situation a lot more seriously,
    ( apperntly they had seen people go into shock during their tests) got an epi trainer, & showed me how to use it.
    Since next years ins deductable was about to cycle, & the terms of the company ins plan were about to change, I did not start the de-sensitization shots right away, & I rationalized that at the cost projections they mentioned ( about $100 per de-sense treatment, starting weekly, then tapering down to monthly, for 5 years, then another sensitivity test) , this was probably a huge cash cow for them. I decided not to get the shots.
    Later that spring ( 2014), I took a couple of stings through my sock.
    I went indoors, told my wife what had happened, got out my epi & waited to go into shock.
    nothing happened. not even itchy palms.
    I am still pretty cautious. no working bees in tennis shoes with exposed socks. always wear nitrile gloves, usually over cotton "inner gloves". If going to a remote location for intrusive work, I take some one with me.
    A month or so ago, I got a bee in the bonnet ( did not realize it), while my glasses were sliding off my nose. using my shoulder to push my glasses back up, I pinched the be to my cheek, & got stung.
    I figured the bee was outside & stinger would be pulled out by the suit, so I ignored it & finished what ever it was I was doing ( 15 min ) Went inside, got my wife to check my face, she located the stingey in my cheek , started to grab it, butused a credit card to scape it out.
    I was starting to have itchy palms already, I tooke recomended dose of liquid benedryl ( 1 tsp? I dont remember. I weigh 170-180lbs) symptoms went away, only slight swelling, almost no wheal.
    Thats my story, for edutainment only. Your mileage may vary.
    Good Luck! ... CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Freeland, MI, USA
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    50

    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    Thank you all for your testimony. My intention from posting this wasn't to get medical advice. I just wanted to hear from other people how they reacted when they were found to have severe reactions. I know I shouldn't jump the gun and think I need to stop beekeeping until I see the allergist. And even then, maybe desensitization would work.

    jwcarlson - I did see that Michael Palmer video about people not being stung enough. And my only reaction was, if I'm not working my bees correctly, then I get stung. If I do it right then I don't get stung, right?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    1,808

    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    if I'm not working my bees correctly, then I get stung. If I do it right then I don't get stung, right?
    Great theory, too bad the bees don't read. If you keep bees you will be stung; their fault, your fault, the end result is still the same. I don't tolerate a hot hive but other conditions making them crabby is natural.

  11. #10
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    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    Quote Originally Posted by codeboy823 View Post
    Thank you all for your testimony. My intention from posting this wasn't to get medical advice. I just wanted to hear from other people how they reacted when they were found to have severe reactions.
    there are plenty of threads on BeeSource discussing reactions to stings. Try the 'search' feature.

    also, even if you work bees "correctly" you still get stung.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Freeland, MI, USA
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    50

    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    Yeah, I'm aware that there are many factors that you may be unaware of that may cause the bees to be more defensive at various times. I'm just saying that so far in my experience, I get stung when I squash a bee by accident. This last time has been the only time I've been stung for "seemingly" no reason.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA UNITED STATES
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    241

    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    12 years ago I got stung about 30-40 times through the socks as I dropped a hive body on my foot. Blood pressure dropped, took a benadryl, sweated, by the time we got to the ER I was fine. Several years after that, dropped a clump down my neck from a cutout, maybe 10 - almost no reaction.

    3-4 years ago, got one sting on the arm, and my feet itched like crazy. Since then, I pop a liquid benadryl every time I got stung. This year, have been stung a few times. No benadryl, and I've been fine. I have a slight panic attack when it happens, but that's about it.

    So, everyone is different, and I think for some folks the allergic response can vary. That said, I have a red and white cooler with gel benadryl and 2 epi pens and I take them on cutout jobs. There is no problem being prepared. I also suit up more than most folks, but still experience about 10 stings a season. Just be careful, keep your head about you, and be prepared.

  14. #13
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    Aug 2013
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    Isle of Wight, VA
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    Quote Originally Posted by codeboy823 View Post
    So I've had bees for four years now and have only been stung twice up until this year. Did my first cutout this year and was stung twice (barely getting past my nitrile gloves) and I've never had any more of a reaction that some mild itching. Anyway, I happen to be showing someone some nuc hives I had set up when I got stung behind my right ear. I was a little surprised that I was stung since I've never been stung just observing the hives before but no big deal. I scraped the stinger out and had another bee "escort" me all the way back to the house. Within a few minutes I felt itchy and had red bumps break out all over my chest and waistline. Knowing this wasn't a good reaction, I took some Benadryl and was watching my symptoms to make sure I didn't need to go to the emergency room. Everything had mostly vanished within 3 hours. This prompted me to see my doctor, who immediately perscribed me an EpiPen and told me if I got stung again my reaction would be even worse. I'll soon be getting an appointment with an allergist to determine how bad my reactions are and perhaps desensitization therapy. I'm trying not to get all depressed and think the worst (like I need to stop beekeeping and sell off everything) but my mind keeps going back there. Has anyone out there had a similar experience? What did you do?
    I had a similar reaction when I got stung between the eyes. (girls found a hole in my veil). That was the only time that I started itching really bad on my hands and feet. Was worried that I was developing an allergy, although I wasn't sure how since I sting myself regularly for bee venom therapy. I've been stung many times since that one on my face and I've not had another reaction like that. Even ones in my hair didn't react that same way. I think facial stings can react a bit differently than stings on extremities. Always keep the liquid Benedryl in you hive box if you don't have quick access back to your house. Taking the Benedryl can really help stop a reaction before it starts.

  15. #14
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    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    Regarding working bees without getting stung... most times I don't get stung. And when I do it's because I pinch a bee or something. Last year I was much more cautious, but also had less hives. This year I've been much more invasive and "rough" with them. The more you handle them the more you get stung. I could go without stings easily I'm sure. Jacket up and wear gloves. But it doesn't seem to be worth it. I haven't been stung for awhile actually. All you need to do is go pluck an unlucky lady off the landing board once a week and give yourself a hit. I'm not suggesting you do that now, but just as a maintenance type thing over the course of the season. It makes great sense that exposed to bee "dander" your body wants to react, but cannot. Then once exposed to the venom it "over reacts". You want to take that reaction a little bit at a time over the course of the season not once or twice in the course of four years.

    Certainly something to be concerned about. I wouldn't be doing bee work until I had some assurance that it wouldn't happen again (like going to see an allergist as you're talking about doing).

  16. #15
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    Mar 2015
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    Yakima, WA
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    there are plenty of threads on BeeSource discussing reactions to stings. Try the 'search' feature.

    also, even if you work bees "correctly" you still get stung.
    Then I'm doing it all wrong -- I have been stung once since I got the hives in April

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    Dave A., wait until next year when they're not cute little first year colonies. Or if you pop one open when they're unexpectedly queenless.

  18. #17
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    Jun 2015
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    Westchester, NY
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    When I get stung it hurts like hell and generally swells up within 24 hours although not terribly so. It also gets rather itchy. The last bite I used bite swab and this little gadget. Not sure which one helped there most but the swelling was not as pronounced and the recovery quicker.

  19. #18
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  20. #19
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    Jul 2015
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    Raiford, Florida
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    I checked 8 hives down to the bottom board, checker boarded 2. I only wore a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers. Got 3 stings, because I squeezed them. All on my hands. I found using Hot and Icy with Benadryl cream works well. The swelling goes down in 24 hours or less with little to no itching.
    My2cents
    I will bless (Praise) the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Biloxi, MS, USA
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    Default Re: Sting Reaction

    You'll have different reactions depending on factors such as the location of the sting, duration of the stinger in your skin, etc

    Sometimes, swelling and itchiness for 24 hours. Other times, nothing at all.

    Only two stings in four years is a friggin miracle.

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