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I have had several yellow jacket stings over the years, but I've never been stung by a honey bee in my life, until yesterday, the dreaded big event finally happened. I was working without a veil giving them a bag of light syrup in the top feeder (I've done this many times without incident) when some of them decided that the back of my neck was real interesting. I thought that I'd developed a relatively professional 'tai chi' movement pattern to my work, but I flipped and started swatting. I know, beginner's reaction. Well, one got me fair and square, just off to the right of my neck bone.

Y'know, it wasn't so bad. It didn't hurt nearly as much as I anticipated. I managed to scrape the stinger out within a minute or so. The yellow jacket stings I've hard were much, much worse. I've actually had mosquito bites hurt worse. I didn't even use the Soothe a Sting. Later in the day I started feeling a bit achey, as if I had a cold coming on. When I woke up this morning, not only was that general achey feeling gone, but so was the back ache I've been fighting for the past 2 weeks! Wow!

No, I'm not looking forward to getting stung again. I still don't look forward to "getting used to it", but I do have a question...
Knowing that house bee stings are generally less painful than field bee stings, does anyone know just what contributes to the potency of a sting? Is it the age of a bee? Does the volume of venom increase? Or does it age to become more powerful? :scratch:
 

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I dont have any answers to the questions in the last of your post. But I do know this, wether you are "looking forward to it" or " getting used to it", you might as well, if you plan on having bees and not dressing in a suit of armor it is inevitable. I never wore a veil last year. I always have one close by now. Its a funny thing, new hives building and just trying to reach a threshold are easy as pie. Once they get built up and are packed, they have more availible wings and reason to protect their domain. Stings help my aching hands. I dont go around looking for a sting, but I will take em as they come. I went in a hive that had been in a heavy robbing battle a week ago yesterday. Normally docile hive stung me 5 times through the pants and 8-10 times on the back, through the same carhart shirt I always wear. Never pulled a frame. Glad I had my veil. Good Luck and have fun. G;)
 

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LOL...Yes the antcipation is much worse than the actual sting. Now dont get me wrong. Your gonna find some that DO hurt like the dickens but thats the small percentage of em. Like Big G said tho....when it's spring and they're building....it's like playing with a baby on the floor. Give em some honey in their comb and a few more brood around....it's best to have the veil on and the smoker ready. Your sting count is about to go up!!!
The other day I had done a split. Lets say that the contributing hives and the new hive were NOT happy. I go out there to check it an hour after doing it and some robbing was going on. These girls DID NOT like me being around and drove me from the apiary part of my yard swatting, batting , and running. I dont know that thats a "rookie" tactic or survival tactic but my wife watching from the house got a big laugh out of it!!!
 

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Thought I would add as all was well up to 3 weeks ago while checking newly added frames and syrup levels I was stung right on the outside corner of the eye socket, luckily I had benadryl on hand and removed the stinger. Silly me I was without a veil and had just been through the hive the day before going through all 6 mediums. Guess I should have figured they weren't willing to be bothered at all again. Needless to say we had a trip planned to the lake and wow did the right side of my face swell the next day lots of ice, benadryl, cortisone, and plenty of wine. While it was great to get away I got it again 2 weeks later! Also while we were gone my hive was inspected (Good report) so I didn't want to bother them so soon again. Husband called me to look at how the hive was leaning then just an instant reaction to something near my eye I put my hand up and while my hand froze in mid air oops yet again to the left cheek this time, swelling was a bit worse and I didn't feel so well a couple days later. Steroid shot and pack of prednisone....My face felt ten times better, swelling was about gone. Doctor really stressed to always keep veil on no matter what if I want to continue. I never dreamed I would have such a reaction to the face while having been stung on the foot wearing flip flops just out to observe the bee yard, a bee and I got tangled up under my strap. No swelling at all and I felt horrible about her loosing out on her life just because she was in the clover. Now I feel a bit apprehensive since both hives need gone through as they haven't been touched in 2 weeks. We were able to level the one hive up that was leaning due to a varmint tunneling underneath without any issues disturbing the bees. We felt quite stealthy and relieved, kinda fun to know they were carrying on with foraging and fanning while we were leveling ground, shimming the hive base. :lookout: Still love em. Fascinating.
 

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What is so wrong with wearing a veil when going out to the bees??? If someone wants to be "all natural" with nature, im sure they will forgive the poor bee that lost its life, meanwhile you took a stinger to the eyeball and will never see again out of that eye! If you don't want to put a veil on because you bought one of those big ol bulky full body suits, then spend a little extra money and get just the veil..............it will help solve the problem of swollen faces!!

I wear my veil even if I am just going to check the queenless nuc that is building my queen cells, and they are docile as lambs with out even a head butt.
 

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haha well I was intelligent enough to wear the veil while pulling the hive apart otherwise. It's not cumbersome at all and pretty secure. Has me thinking I may not go gloveless.
 

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Has me thinking I may not go gloveless.
I have to wear gloves, when I got stung in the hands trying to be "that beekeeper", they swelled up and made them look like Mickey Mouse hands!! If for soe reason I have a task that is touchy feely, I will wear chemical resistant rubber gloves. If I am grafting I brush all the bees off the frame and then go into my truck or away from the hives, I do have baby bees hatching and crawling around, but they are harmless and only looking for food and not the enemy!!
 

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This thread is fantastic! Hops, I'm new this year, and after yesterday, I think my sting count is at a dozen or so this season. 6 (at least 6) of those coming the night I installed my packages with an improperly tied veil and no gloves. My left hand took at least 3 hits on the meat down by the wrist. If you ever saw Andre the Giant wrestle, you'll remember those hands. That's sort of how my left hand looked. I've worn gloves and veil the rest of the season, but I hate them. I can't see eggs or young larvae well with the veil on, and the gloves make putting frames back in a hive hard for me. I tried an inspection yesterday without them, and it was going so well...4 stings later I'm reevaluating:)
 

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I'm a newbee too, and so far, I've only been tagged twice, although the bees did try hard the other day when I needed to dig and and get a couple brood frames out. Our flow is over for the year here, which sure makes them grouchy. I have a ventilated suit so they couldn't get me, but I had stingers embedded in the fabric up and down my arms, and they head butted incessantly, with a few following me halfway back to the house.

As far as your final questions, I have read that age and season can make a difference as far as severity, and IME, where you are hit can make it worse. I was stung on the back of the neck, and it hurt less, was a little less itchy, and had less swelling than the one I took on my hand (although both hurt...I was sure not very Zen-like as far as my reaction went).
 

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I got stung two times yesterday. Once in the neck and once on the forehead. A little hint, make sure all of your zippers are closed. I had one open just a little bit and two got into my suite. Admittedly I was taking bees from a trap-out so they had a reason. There was a little bit of panic when I realized what was happening.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm not trying to be a he-man or Mr. Natural. it's just that they've hardly looked at me when I just open the top to check the feeder. I grew complacent. I have no doubt I'll get more stings down the road, even with gear on. But I refuse to get stung in the face simply because I was too lazy to put on a veil. My "veil" is a mosquito net jacket I added to my ensemble a couple weeks ago to wear in the summer heat, and it worked fine for a deep inspection last week. I guess that's what I'll use when I open the top. Beats a full suit and headgear when it's 102 in the shade.

Meanwhile, this sting has already stopped swelling, no itch and, well, wasn't much of a sting to whine so loud. :v:

I'm still curious what factors affect sting potency.
 

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i too got stung today on top of my bald head, twice. i have two hives about ten feet apart. three feet
at the sides of the entrance i have chairs set up for my viewing pleasure, checking for robbing, pollen colors etc.
retired,i spend lots of time just sitting and enjoying with no interference from the bees. never a sting.
well, today a huge bumble bee tried to get in the entrance as i was watching. my bees, about five of them jumped
on it fought, and probably stung it and tossed it off the entrance. then a bunch of bees went to the site of the fight
it was quite exciting to witness. like a knucklehead i walked right in front of the entrance while leaving. then wham! wham!
two to the head. i must say it was worth the price of admission.
 

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Get a bee jacket with attached veil for those quick trips to hive. I use the jacket rather than a full suit for times when they tend to be less upset such as during a honey flow. Your running a big risk not wearing a veil when you take the outer cover off. They also make veils that fit over a baseball style hat although I've not used one. Seems like after a few years you are able to get a "read" on a hive as to if it might be upset over something as well as learning what times of the year they get more upset. Or course, there are times when one day they have a queen and the next day they don't and are upset about it.

To each his own. I don't like getting stung or maybe just being to safe.
 

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i too got stung today on top of my bald head, twice. i have two hives about ten feet apart. three feet
at the sides of the entrance i have chairs set up for my viewing pleasure, checking for robbing, pollen colors etc.
retired,i spend lots of time just sitting and enjoying with no interference from the bees. never a sting.

well, today a huge bumble bee tried to get in the entrance as i was watching. my bees, about five of them jumped
on it fought, and probably stung it and tossed it off the entrance. then a bunch of bees went to the site of the fight
it was quite exciting to witness. like a knucklehead i walked right in front of the entrance while leaving. then wham! wham!
two to the head. i must say it was worth the price of admission.
Hahaha. Love the humorous way you put that Mike!
 

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I too got hit yesterday. First time. AFTER i was finished doing my inspection, I was back in my workshop taking off my veil. not sure where she came from but hit me right in the *****. THROUGH my Duluth Trading overalls. Those things are really thick canvas. Was really shocked that she could penetrate those things. Probably looked like a cartoon character when it happened, I jumped straight up grabbing my butt. More of a surprise than anything. My kids thought it was hilarious.
 

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I finally got my first sting, too. We had just moved the hive and I pulled off the screen I had over the entrance. It had a few upset bees on it so I shook them off. One didn't come off and got me in the finger. It didn't hurt as bad as the fire ant bite I had just gotten on my foot and was a lot less bothersome. I did scrape out the stinger. I kept waiting and watching, expecting nothing less than anaphylactic shock. But nothing happened. It was a finger I had broken back in March and she got me just below the injury. I must say the sting made it actually feel better for a while. It never even swelled, but it did itch slightly a few days later. I'm almost disappointed. Almost.
 

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First time I got stung was kind of anti-climactic for me, too, though it gave me a funny story to tell. Todd, I got stung on the butt, too! First day, full-strength hive - set it in place and left. Few hours later I couldn't stand it and thought I'd check on the frame feeder to see if it needed filling despite knowing better than to bother them so soon. I lifted the top just a bit and saw a hundred little faces glaring at me. Uh-oh. I turned to leave and BAM! Right on the ass.

Hops, so far I've been stung just a few times (three or four?) and they haven't been that bad. Only once was it sore for more than a day. I agree that fire ant bites are worse, at least as far as pain goes for the first few hours. I'm thinking I had an easy time of it because they didn't bury up the stinger. From what I've read, them getting a good "bite" and really injecting the venom makes it a lot more potent, hence why they say to scrape the stinger off asap. Makes sense - more "bite" means more venom which would mean worse reaction to it.

Though I'd also like to know if the age of the bee makes them more potent.

Edited to add: Thought you'd like to see this video:
 
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