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Discussion Starter #1
I haven't been stung by a by a bee in a few years (normal reaction), but now that I'm getting into bee keeping I've read where some recommend getting a few epi pens just in case. Is this a universal belief? If so, how do I go about it? Do doctors willfully prescribe them just because you're in beekeeping?
 

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You will have to convince your doctor that you need the prescription. Like what if 1000 bees sting you when you are working them one day?
An anti-histamine, like Benadryl will treat bee stings also. Epinephrine is for anaphylactic shock.
 

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I work with pediatricians and have just discussed this with one of them. He looked up the stats and only 0.4% of people have an anaphylactic reaction to bees. They are the only ones that need an Epi pen. If I remember correctly, it said that the anaphylactic reaction takes place within the first 20 minutes of the sting but no later than 2 hours. He said that you must call 911 as soon as an Epi pen is administered and he recommended getting the twin pack so that if the paramedics take longer than 15 minutes the second Epi pen is used. There are also two different doses for them, the Jr. is for up to 60 or 65 lbs and the regular one for over that.
And yes, you do need a prescription. I took a trip into the Amazon jungle over ten years ago and the docs made me take some Epi pens with me (just in case). When I got them back then, they came with a “practice pen” for you to practice using one. Not sure if they still come that way or if the doctor wrote the prescription in a way so that it was included.
Just give your doctor a call. If you have been stung before and just had a regular reaction then you should not need an Epi pen for yourself, but it’s a good thing to have if you have people visiting your hives.
 

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Beekeeper beeware. Everyone should have one of these in every vehicle used in the business.

Had a guy helping in the late 90's. He left for construction when that boomed. Came back when it tanked. First day back had one nasty /bad reaction to a sting. He was breathing ike a fish out of water. Not fun to see or watch. Ran to meet him with the epi and jammed it through the beesuit, pants and all for an instantaneous cure. Faster than a guy turning his head towards a hot chick. All I can say its one of the best bucks spent in the bee business.... cheap insurance. :)
 

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My next door neighbor is allergic. And I dont know if my kid is yet. We bought 2 kinds the adult and child. I hope I never have to use them. There only good for about 6 months. So I'll replace mine in the summer. I'll put 2 in my swarm box/ so that every time I check the hive i can cover any one......
 

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Naw. Don't buy one. You arn't worth it to your family and your mate and kids arn't either. Just make sure you carry very good life insurance on everyone. Since a persons reaction to a sting can change over night without any indicator or warning how you reacted today doesn't really mean anything tomorrow. Just think how much bee stuff you can buy with the $50,000 insurance payout and how much you'll save not having to pay for school when they don't grow up.
 

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Ranger,
They aren't cheap. There's no need to have one if everyone around you isn't allergic. I think it's safe to say that there are epi-pens on almost every fire truck in the country. Call your local fire department and ask. Most of them aren't 20 mins away from you. Your physician knows best.

For everyone else giving medical advice,
Please stop if you aren't a medical professional.
 

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Epi-pens are expensive and expire frequently (about once a year). If money is not an issue, or you have strangers potentially getting stung, or your bee yards are far from the nearest ER, it can provide peace of mind and could save a life in the rare event of a life-threatening reaction. Severe allergic reactions are rare enough that most beekeepers don't worry about it, but not quite rare enough not to bear worrying about. Many on here, including myself, have had allergic responses of varying degrees during beekeeping. Luckily in my case it was not life-threatening, desensitization worked, and I no longer react to stings. I have an epi-pen now but have never used it.

Two groups of people have very low chances of developing an allergy: 1) those who are never stung and 2) those who are stung very frequently (on the order of once a week). Among those who are stung occasionally, the risk of experiencing an allergic reaction at some point may be closer to 10%, with about 3% experiencing severe, potentially life-threatening reactions.

I've posted these papers before, but they provide a good summary of current research into bee sting allergy in both beekeepers and the general public.

http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/apiculture/pdfs/Marterre.2006a copy.pdf
http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/apiculture/pdfs/Marterre.2006b copy.pdf

Mark
 

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I am not "giving medical advice", but I am a physician in real life. Please don't spam PM's at me.

With regard to epinephrine: I can and do give out prescriptions for epi-pens almost freely. I have had to give injections of epinephrine myself to people having anaphylactic shock, and can agree it's scary as heck to see someone crumpling in front of you quickly. However, epinephrine if given in the wrong circumstance can be pretty harmful. I saw a young lady have a heart attack because she received too much epinephrine, once "in the field" and then again by a well meaning paramedic who figured two doses wouldn't hurt, I guess, or didn't believe she had the first. Anyway, it is a powerful drug. I hesitate to say that every bee keeper should have an epipen/epipen jr on hand, as indiscriminate use is very harmful. However, it DOES seem reasonable to me having seen all sides of this coin.

I am a new beekeeper, actually don't even have my bees yet, but I will have an epipen and epipen jr on hand. I have a wife a 3 year old son who have no known allergy to bee stings, but I am also in a rural area. I don't know what the cost is, but I will likely buy these outright without insurance per se, and I think it will be about 50 bucks. If I replace them twice yearly, $100 ain't bad to avoid seeing someone crumple in front of me while I think "Crap, I know how to fix this"

Oh, and I have seen people who would have died within minutes (less than 20 minutes) without epinephrine....and people often hesitate to call EMS until they KNOW there is a problem, and not every EMS vehicle etc has epi.
 

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I agree that each beekeeper should have one on hand. Yes the statistic say that it is unlikely you will need them and they are pricey, but having one on hand when the need comes up is more than worth a couple of hundred bucks a year to me. Insurance will often cover them, so then the cost is just your co-pay.
I have really good insurance covering my business, but if it had to pay out due to the death of someone because I was unwilling to buy epipens, then the rates would go so high that I could no longer afford it and that would be the end of my business. Even worse if I did not have a business and my personal assets were at stake. in the grand scheme of things they are cheap protection.
 

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That exactly how i feel. Our insurance covered the cost. With a tiny copay it would be just down right stupid not to have one. Most docs around here will give you a free prescription for one. All i did was tell the nurse over the phone and she said " it will be waiting here."

Also some of our ems transportation does not have pens i asked when i started. Could you live with your self if something happened to your kid/wife/friend. And you could have done something about it ?
If you dont have insurance then im sure a friend or relative does that could just call and pick it up. But if you dont want to then fine its up to you. Heck if i had my bees out in the woods and not around othres i might not have had one either.
 

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I went to my doctor to get an epipen "just in case" when I started beekeeping and here's what I found out....I told him that once a long time ago I had an allergic reaction to a bee sting and wanted to be on the safe side in case it happened again. He told me that there is a BIG difference between an allergic reaction and a-shock and if a person was to recieve an epi injection while experiencing an allergic reaction it may be lethal . I personnally wouldn't be too quick to administer ANY kind of injection to anybody that may be lethal unless I was a doctor....that's a HUGE liability. He told me that I would better off getting some Benedryl and keep a cell phone handy in case someone may be experiencing a-shock you could call for help. Although the pharmacist told me that Childrens Benedryl ( and double the dosage) would be a better choice as it would work faster.
 

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Respectfully, rocket08, I disagree with a lot of the above.

There is nothing faster to reverse an allergic reaction than epinephrine. Benadryl works, but not on anaphylaxis. If someone is experiencing a true anaphylactic reaction, epinephrine is all there is. If you aren't sure, they aren't anaphylactic. It's not subtle. That part I agree with. But benadryl is not going to help someone with anaphylaxis.

Last, there is NO LIABILITY to emergency/"good samaritan" life saving care. If you give someone life saving or potentially life-saving first aid, every state has "good samaritan" laws that protect you from liability, even if it doesn't work out.
 

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You know, the more I think about it...maybe I wouldn't hesitate to recommend epipen/epipen jr's to most beekeepers. The risk of epinephrine is there, but you were on a cell phone with EMS and someone quits breathing in front of you, they can at least say "yes it's time to use the pen" if someone is hesitant or untrained. What a lot of people don't realize is that repiratory failure from anaphylactic shock can sometimes involve such severe mouth and tongue swelling that you cannot place a breathing tube, and then you have to do an emergency tracheostomy. This isn't something that's good in your back yard.
 

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Do what you think is right ....but you need to read the definition of " Good Sumaritan " laws before citing them on here to alot of uneducated "doctors" . There are definitions that allow for "life saving " practices and I'm not sure that administering a perscription drug perscribed in your name to another person will constitute acting in good faith and covered under " Good Sumaritan " laws . Be very careful when giving legal advise unless you can back it in a court of law answering to a "negligence " lawsuit. Myself, I'm going to continue being a beekeeper that follows the advise of a professional medical practitioner and leave the "doctoring" to them. Just my opinion....
 

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This is an interesting/stimulating conversation. I hope I don't upset anyone. Thanks for your concern with regard to my own medicolegal liability. I will actually use the points here to discuss further with some allergists, emergency physicians etc in the area and see what they think. Of course I have read the laws. I am only new to beekeeping.

I did find this as a (possibly) related issue if people don't mind it being a bit tangential.

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2012/01/10/should-schools-stock-epipens-can-administrators-get-to-them-fast-enough/


Anyway, back to work...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I really appreciate the discussion on here about the issue. It sounds as if it's (as with most beekeeping issues) beekeeper discretion. One of the reasons I asked was because I'm not new to the Epi Pen controversy. I work for the US Forest Service on a heavily utilized recreation district. There has been a great controversy between ground employees at some of our recreation areas and management because many believe there is a need for us to have Epi Pens in the event that someone has an anaphylactic reaction. Management says no, because they too are concerned with the liability issue. It's just an interesting discussion all the way around. My primary concern is for my niece and nephew who have never been stung.
 

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I guess you have to just decide for your self. Ill always have one. If i use it or not is up to me. But if they cant breath or im positive its A-shock You bet im stabbing your ass ! :pinch:

There mainly for me and my family. The neighborhood knows where to get a pen if they need it. We dont lock our doors here. :shhhh:
 
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