A Dreadful Sting...
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  1. #1
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    Jun 2018
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    Pennsylvania USA
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    Question A Dreadful Sting...

    Took a quick peek at the hive yesterday and both the wife and I got stung once. No big deal as we know this is going to happen…

    We’ve both been stung in the past—me a dozen or so times and she 6-8 times. We only suffered minimal discomfort for a day of so, not really too noticeable…

    Yesterday, my wife got stung on the thumb and her hand is double in size and the swelling is up her arm about 4”, painful and itchy—one of the worst stings I have ever seen…

    Are some of the bees more “powerful” this time of year?

    Thanks…1/33rd

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  3. #2
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    >Are some of the bees more “powerful” this time of year?

    Maybe. Certainly not all stings are created equal.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    how much time has elapsed from her last sting? go all winter without a sting and in the spring you do get more of a reaction.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  5. #4
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    Back when I still swelled often from beestings, occasionally one would puff up an area and make me wonder if I had a future in beekeeping. They usually happen after a period of time with no stings. I rarely get any swelling or itching that is not momentary but once in a while, one special sting happens that causes itching and or swelling. As long as you have no full body reaction, I would not be worried about it. But I am an old man and don't worry about much at all.

  6. #5
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    Jun 2018
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    Thanks...

    Yea, she hasn't been stung since last spring so the time-lapse could be part of the problem...

    And I agree, some bee just seem to have more "power" in their sting...

    I generally don't have big reaction as was proved when I got stung just the other day. You could barely see a mark the next day...

    But, I have certainly been stung more times than my wife...

    She is a bit "gun shy" about our next look-see at our hive though...

    1/33rd

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Shickshinny, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    Just curious if your working your bee's with out gloves or any kind of protection

  8. #7
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    Aug 2018
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    Boston, MA, USA
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    I got sensitized to bee stings over the summer. each one was worse than the last. I now have a lot of swelling within 1ft of the sting. I get tested and found out I now arrive to bee stings. Good news is I am going for immune system therapy this winter. The doctor says it has a 93% sucess rate.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    For me it's often very different. I'm never sure if it's how long the stinger is in or how potent the venom is or where I got stung or the method that I used to remove the stinger. Likely a little of all of those. I've had stings that I ignored and they barely bothered me. Others that really made me wonder like Vance. I guess now I just plan ahead and take it in stride. If I know I have a defensive hive I just take precautions. Otherwise I'm pretty open until I get stung once or twice. If I hive a bunch of packages I note that as the day goes on, I get stung more so I either suit up first and stay that way or adjust as I go along. Since my WORST reaction ever was getting stun below my eye I take particular care to cover my face. Even when I don't think I need to. My younger days of bravado are long over and I'd rather work than generate a story to tell! I really don't know if there's a simple answer to this but I know the solutions are obvious.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    Australia
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    Quote Originally Posted by 1/33rd View Post
    wife got stung on the thumb and her hand is double in size and the swelling is up her arm about 4”, painful and itchy
    It may just be a hand thing? When my hands get stung I react similar to that. It takes about a day for everything to get back to normal. When I get stung on the back, or arms, or on my nose I don't react much at all.

  11. #10
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    Jun 2018
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    Well, I reckon it’s all of the above…

    I was wearing a jacket and hood, but the wife was just a “spectator” about 10-feet away. Guess the bees thought that was too close!

    I had on just a pair of cotton work gloves and a bee got between my glove top and the cuff on the coat—no big deal to me…

    But, it might have made the wife a bit “sting shy”, so I suspect her next visit will be in full “uniform”…

    Guess it is just one of the hazards of the bee-keeping hobby…

    Thanks…1/33rd

  12. #11
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    yep just when you dont go crazy suiting up the little buggers get you , the wife and I were working the hives late one day and they were clinging to us she looked down and the front of her jeans were covered with bee's she got away with 5 stings on her legs and now puts her bee pants on every time if I can get her in the beeyard !!!

  13. #12
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    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    I think there are a lot of variables, as Ravenseye says. I've found that certain paces swell more than others. For example, when I get stung on the back of my hand, the swelling is relatively noticeable. However, fingertips, palm of my hand, arm, stomach, thigh, and neck haven't bee particularly worrisome. The face though, lots of swelling. But I think sometimes the bees must hit a nerve or a small blood vessel and the swelling becomes noticeable in otherwise low swelling places.

    Here's a fun fact. I saw Randy Oliver at a bee event last year and in his presentation he cited a recent research study that says that a person should be stung at least 9 times and no more than around 200 (which seems hilarious) to develop resistance. Not sure that was yearly or not. So one way to think about this is that you wife needs to be stung a few more times.
    Year 4
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  14. #13
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    Aug 2018
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    Boston, MA, USA
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    There is some authoritative research on this. :-)

    Honey bee sting pain index by body location
    Michael L. Smith
    Published April 3, 2014PubMed 24765572
    https://peerj.com/articles/338/


    Abstract
    The Schmidt Sting Pain Index rates the painfulness of 78 Hymenoptera species, using the honey bee as a reference point. However, the question of how sting painfulness varies depending on body location remains unanswered. This study rated the painfulness of honey bee stings over 25 body locations in one subject (the author). Pain was rated on a 1–10 scale, relative to an internal standard, the forearm. In the single subject, pain ratings were consistent over three repetitions. Sting location was a significant predictor of the pain rating in a linear model (p < 0.0001, DF = 25, 94, F = 27.4). The three least painful locations were the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm (all scoring a 2.3). The three most painful locations were the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft (9.0, 8.7, and 7.3, respectively). This study provides an index of how the painfulness of a honey bee sting varies depending on body location.

  15. #14
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    Mar 2015
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    Triadelphia, West Virginia
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Madsen View Post
    The three most painful locations were the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft (9.0, 8.7, and 7.3, respectively). This study provides an index of how the painfulness of a honey bee sting varies depending on body location.
    Now there's a man that's dedicated to his work. Holy cow. I think I would have tried 24 body locations instead of 25.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    I guess that guy never got stung while walking barefoot in the park. I find a sting on the bottom one of the small toes, not the pad but the soft part toward the base of the toe to be very painful. Most other stings I can pretty much ignore.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    I think that I read that venom potency varies with the age of the bee and I thought it was the bees just transitioning from guard bees to field bees that were the worst. So this could help explain why some stings can be particularly painful, and swell a lot (with other factors as well for swelling) while others not so much.

  18. #17
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    Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    The severity of a response to bee venom (or any other allergen) is effected by a number of things, which can include venom dose, location of the sting, and an individuals degree of sensitisation to an allergen. One, several, or all of those could account for your wife's response.

    Dose is straight forward - the more venom injected, the bigger the response. If I recall, bees have some control over the amount they inject, and likewise, the time it takes you to remove the stinger (and whether you remove it properly) also contributes to the amount of venom injected. As others have mention, the concentration of the allergies/toxins in the venom may also change seasonally or with bee age - although I was unable to find anything that confirmed (or denied) this claim. But if true, it would have an effect.

    Location also matters; some areas of our bodies are more or less responsive to allergens than others. Bad places includes mucosal surfaces (e.g. inside of your nose/mouth, parts of your nether regions), while regions with thicker skin tend to be less sensitive (e.g. palms of your hands, bottom of feet). There are also physical factors; stings on/near joints can lead to worse swelling due to the increased inter-tissue pressure generated by movement of the joint. A thumb would be a prime example of the latter - lots of interstitial pressure generated by moving the thumb and from gripping objects.

    The last issue is the one to worry about - our immune response to allergens changes over time. Most of us have experienced the disappearance of a childhood allergy (feathers in my case), or the onset of a new adult allergy (hayfever in my case). Allergies to bee venom is no different. To make matters worse, the occasional (but relatively high dose) exposures we bee keepers get are exactly the wrong thing to do in terms of maintaining tolerance to an allergen. If you have an unusually strong response to a bee sting, you should take that as a sign that you *may* be increasing your sensitivity to bee venom, and take additional precautions and monitoring in the future. Your wife may want to consider taking additional precautions to prevent stings (e.g. gloves), and when stung in the future, she should more closely monitor the degree of swelling and the duration of her response. If she is truly getting worse, she'll definitely want to take on more protective practices, and should also go talk to a MD or allergist about controlling her allergy and other precautions (e.g. epipen). Keeping benadryl (or any brand of anti-histamine containing diphenhydramine) is a good idea for all bee keepers, as it will knock back a severe response, should one occur (as in, it'll get you to the ER alive - it shouldn't be substituted for proper medical treatment). Of course, should your wife (or anyone) experience any sort of severe swelling (especially of the face/tongue), difficulty breathing or dizziness following a sting, your first stop should be the closest ER.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    West Jordan, UT, USA
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    Default Re: A Dreadful Sting...

    As was said before, sting reactions vary considerably.
    I usually work my hives bare-handed. I don't get stung every time I open the hive, but it does happen sometimes. My first few stings to the hands in the springtime sometimes result in a reaction like your wife's. After the frist 2 or 3 stings though, my reaction is considerably less. I guess it's a built up resistance to the venom. But I have also noted it can vary with the location of the sting. And certainly there are many other factors.
    Never ask a barber it he thinks you need a haircut.

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