Reaction to bee stings getting worse?
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2018
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    Houston, TX, USA
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    Default Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    I’ve been stung by bees my entire life, it’s usually nothing more than a sharp pinch, little redness and then itchy for a couple days.

    Yesterday I really pissed off my bees and they stung me a few times after I was done inside the hive and took off the suit.

    This time I encountered pretty severe swelling in my right arm (where I was stung several times) pretty shortly after. My arm blew up pretty big to where it was uncomfortable moving it. The swelling extended pretty far beyond the sting location.

    No allergic symptoms like trouble breathing or swelling in unaffected areas, etc.

    It’s been 36 hours since the event and finally the swelling is going away.

    I thought reactions to bee venom got better over time. Anyone else experienced this?

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  3. #2
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    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    Time to see a allergist. Your primary Dr. Can link you to one. Generally, reaction is mild, is moderate or gets less over time, or maybe in your case is getting towards a severe reaction. Sometimes the reaction can be severe, to life threatening. Time to retire or see an allergist to help make the right decision on this. Nobody on beesource can diagnose this, including me. But I can give a reasonable idea of a direction to go, as in above. Talk to your Dr. Asap... good luck

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron.koe View Post
    I thought reactions to bee venom got better over time. Anyone else experienced this?
    I went through a similar situation at one time out of nowhere and had to stop keeping bees for year while I went through months of sting therapy. It could be a change you're going through that needs to be taken seriously, or it might be a temporary condition you can work on.

    Sometimes, after months of not receiving any stings over winter, the first few stings of the season can cause more severe reactions than normal until your body builds it's immunity levels back up. Especially true if you are stung several times and you get a large dose of venom all at once in the same area.
    Stress or a weakened immune system from a recent illness can also cause sting reactions to be more severe.

    I don't think it's time to panic yet but you should find out what's going on. See if you might have an apitherapist in your area who could work with you on bee sting therapy, or seek out an allergist.
    To everything there is a season....

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    See a doc for sure. I've had varying reactions over time and for me, it's not really a matter of getting worse. Just different. In your case since it seems to be getting more severe, a medical consultation might be in your best interest.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  6. #5

    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    It still sounds like a local reaction. By the same token, I got my MD on the internet….so you are probably still well advised to see a more conventional doc.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    My experience was that my reactions got worse until I got a major swelling in my ankle where I could not walk for a couple of days. I have never had that strong of a reaction since. In fact I've had almost no reaction beyond the obvious burning when I get stung and no swelling at all after. I don't think the doctors actually understand this very well. Maybe an expert on bee sting allergies might understand it pretty well but a GP probably does not.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    I would prob see a doctor just to be safe, but I wanted to share that I have been keeping bees for just over a year. I have been stung probably a couple dozen times. In fact just yesterday I got stung twice on my hand. 23 out of 24 of the stings were nothing much to write home about. A little itchy, a little red, gone in an hour or so. However, I did have one sting last fall while closing up my hive to which I had a very strong reaction. My forearm swelled, and it was itchy and a little achy for 12+ hours. I told myself I would go to the doctor if it happened again that way. It has not. Strange.

  9. #8
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    Jul 2018
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    Houston, TX, USA
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    Default

    Thanks for all your great replies.

    I went to an allergist not too long ago and it was a very long, expensive and annoying process and they didn’t test for bee venom. I still don’t believe I’m allergic though your allergens do change over time. But it would take a lot to go through that again.

    What I am pondering, after reviewing your replies is likely one of three things.

    1. Bees are capable of delivering a powerful dose of venom but general do light warning stings. Maybe... My bees were really angry, it was a nasty day and I was in there too long.

    2. Bees have varying levels of venom potency, and occasionally you meet a bee that ate his wheaties. Doubt it.... all the stings on my hand and arm blew up.

    3. Your body reacts differently to bee venom at different times due to lord knows what factors. Maybe... but I am the healthiest I have ever been and the stings on my ankle didn’t bother me at all.

    On a side note, the bees harassed me every time i went outside for the rest of the day. Never seen them that pissed off. I think they were preparing to swarm and I went in there and made all kinds of havoc.

  10. #9

    Default

    Hi-

    Could you have a skin infection? I had a bad sting on my finger last year, my whole hand and forearm swelled, and I could see the veins going up to my shoulder. Went to the doc, got antibiotic, and the next morning was much better. I doubt antibiotic is effective against venom...
    S

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron.koe View Post
    Thanks for all your great replies.

    I went to an allergist not too long ago and it was a very long, expensive and annoying process and they didn’t test for bee venom. I still don’t believe I’m allergic though your allergens do change over time. But it would take a lot to go through that again.

    What I am pondering, after reviewing your replies is likely one of three things.

    1. Bees are capable of delivering a powerful dose of venom but general do light warning stings. Maybe... My bees were really angry, it was a nasty day and I was in there too long.

    2. Bees have varying levels of venom potency, and occasionally you meet a bee that ate his wheaties. Doubt it.... all the stings on my hand and arm blew up.

    3. Your body reacts differently to bee venom at different times due to lord knows what factors. Maybe... but I am the healthiest I have ever been and the stings on my ankle didn’t bother me at all.

    On a side note, the bees harassed me every time i went outside for the rest of the day. Never seen them that pissed off. I think they were preparing to swarm and I went in there and made all kinds of havoc.
    My choices, in order.....3...2...1. And I don't believe in 1.
    Last edited by Ravenseye; 04-15-2019 at 08:54 PM. Reason: Added info
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    My choices, in order.....3...2...1. And I don't believe in 1.
    Agreed.
    -- Joe
    "Make your own decision and embrace the consequences." -- jwcarlson

  13. #12
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    Smith County, Texas
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    My choices, in order.....3...2...1. And I don't believe in 1.
    I think I get a "1" when I get stung through gloves/clothing and the bee does not manage to get her barb into me. In other words, the stinger pulls out before I get a full dose. I wouldn't say that it was a "warning sting" ... but I definitely get "big stings" and "little stings." YMMV.

  14. #13
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    Boston, MA, USA
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    Default

    Go to a allergist that does bee venom desensitization and get tested for bee venom. Same thing happened to be at the beginning of summer stings were no big deal. By the end my whole arm would swell for a week. Blood work for bee venom came back positive (precursor to anaphylaxis). started desensitization therapy last month. Seems to be working. Local reaction are getting smaller in area and in duration (down to 1 day).

  15. #14
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    Santa Monica, CA
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    What Alex said. Find an allergist who understands bee sting allergies. I got stung regularly my first year of beekeeping since my mentor insisted I inspect the hives every week and in there we had earthquakes, thunderstorms and one really nasty hive. Reactions progressed from the pinch/itch mentioned on up to my entire arm or leg swelling up. Then one day, I took my suit off feeling smug about three months of totally sting free inspections and a girl I must not have noticed on the suit stung my arm. No big deal, I thought. Fifteen seconds later I collapsed. Firemen came. The whole shebang.

    There is a simple blood test called the Hymenoptera Profile that will reveal whether or not you are allergic. It covers honeybees but also hornets and wasps. They should also check your Tryptase level which will reveal whether you have an underlying mast cell disorder that makes reactions more severe. If you don't like your allergist but have a PCP you do like, presumably she/he could order these tests as well. I got mine at Labcorp. You have to wait 6 weeks after a severe reaction to do the blood tests to let everything calm down. If test shows you are allergic, then you will have to find the bee-smart allergist to administer the densensitization program (and even then it is constantly a matter of educating staff who do pollen shots by rote and don't understand that bee shot protocol is different). I started desensitizing almost exactly two years ago, go in once a month for a booster shot, wear a medic alert necklace and carry two epi-pens when I do inspections. Given that I do have mast cell weirdness, it would make my allergist a lot happier if I gave up bees entirely so I try to have a friend with me these days when I open the hive (down to one 30-frame horizontal built from Michael Bush's plans. I love it!)

    A study in England a while back indicated that something like 30% of British beekeepers had developed an allergy to bee venom. It seems people go in one of two directions: less allergic over time or more. Go get tested!

  16. #15
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    NE Perry County, Ohio
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    Default Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    I've had 3-4 friends show increased reactions to stings - one had to be taken to the hospital after years of trouble-free stings; 2-3 others who seemed to react less.

    An MD friend said that for some people it seems like their system has a fixed amount of natural antihistamines and when those are gone, they're gone.

    A friend's son had been stung many times working in the fields. A few years ago he was stung by 4-5 yellow-jackets and died.

    Net, go get tested.

  17. #16
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    Easton PA
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    Smile Re: Reaction to bee stings getting worse?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron.koe View Post
    Iíve been stung by bees my entire life, itís usually nothing more than a sharp pinch, little redness and then itchy for a couple days.

    Yesterday I really pissed off my bees and they stung me a few times after I was done inside the hive and took off the suit.

    This time I encountered pretty severe swelling in my right arm (where I was stung several times) pretty shortly after. My arm blew up pretty big to where it was uncomfortable moving it. The swelling extended pretty far beyond the sting location.

    No allergic symptoms like trouble breathing or swelling in unaffected areas, etc.

    Itís been 36 hours since the event and finally the swelling is going away.

    I thought reactions to bee venom got better over time. Anyone else experienced this?
    I get a pretty substaintial swelling reaction now when I get stung. A course of prednisone and/or antibiotics are the treatment for me. I do not have an allergy to bee stings.

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