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First off: Poochie is fine. She got a trip to the vet out of it (which she loves), so she's happy. Beekeepers on the other hand are very worried. We're also going to be asking these similar questions to our regular vet (who is an experienced rural/farm vet), but we'd like more information to process.

We're looking for some advice on dogs and bee sting allergies. Why would a dog have almost no reaction to some stings, then the next one get a swollen face and hives? Does this mean there's escalation or is it normal for some stings to be much worse than others?

I'll describe the incident, then the circumstances, and finally some questions.


The Incident

We've got a 65lb doggie (mixed breed, but looks like a lab, not a short-snouted airway). She is just under two years old, who is very inquisitive. She got a few stings in the first day (snapping at the bees), but had since learned to leave them alone, and hadn't been stung since. Her stings included two on the snout and one on the inside ear flap (which the stinger stayed in). She had no real redness or swelling. Didn't seem to be bothered.

Last night, about 8pm (bees were mostly tucked into bed), the dog came inside, laid in her bed and looked like she was trying to lick/work something out of her teeth (in retrospect maybe a stinger, or maybe her lips were just starting to swell?). Shortly after, she started licking at her forepaw, between the toes. We investigated and maybe saw a tiny red bump, but no stinger and no real redness between her toes. In retrospect, maybe she was trying to remove a stinger.

A few minutes later, she started rubbing her snout on things. She got the zoomies and started tearing about rolling around. It was obviously itching like crazy. I noticed her lips and face started swelling and we called the vet.

We dosed her with liquid benadryl (diphenhydramine/antihistamine) per the vet's recommendation, and brought her in immediately (the only vet open was about 35min away).

She kept swelling and developed hives (little itchy bumps) on her head, chest, even down to her tail.

At no point did she seem to have any trouble breathing (no change in her breathing at all really). She wasn't lethargic, or woozy.

Other than the intense itching and swelling, she seemed perfectly fine. About 30-40min after when we think she was stung, we were still in the car, and she seemed to get over the itchiness. We arrived at the vet about 50min post sting, and, other than a badly swollen face, she was her regular bouncy self, excited to be at the vet (where all the ladies swoon over her).

She got another shot of antihistamine and a shot of steroids. And after some monitoring to watch that the swelling was going down, we were sent home with orders for benadryl 2-3 times daily for the next few days.

Dog is happy. Dog parents are worried. Do we have to get rid of the hives?


The Circumstances

We've only had our hives for about two weeks. Both installed from local splits.

I'm not sure the breeds, but they're different. One colony is more yellowish, while the other is darker-bodied.

Two weeks previous, right after install, she had her first stings (two on snout one on inside ear flap), and had no real reaction at all.

She avoids the bees and no longer snaps, but is still curious. Sometimes when I'm near the gives she will come over and eat a few of the dead bees out front (she stands to the side like a good beekeeper).

Also, we left a small ball of crushed burr comb near the hives. It was a little smaller than a ping-pong ball. We're pretty certain it didn't have any dead bees or larvae in it (it was under the top bucket feeder and looked to be full of sugar syrup). We're not sure she even ate that (I'm going to go see if I can find it). Just mentioning it here for completeness.

The hives have had no treatments applied. The hives the nucs were split from were treated with oxalic acid vaporization several weeks before we got them.

We're not sure where she was stung or what actually stung her. We live on a rural property, and have lots of bumblebees. Wasps are around, but haven't really come out yet this year.


Questions

1. Is bad facial swelling and hives normal for bee stings? How serious is this (assuming no labored breathing or lethargy)? Is it, A) don't worry, give benadryl and ice, B) get to vet immediately, or C) get rid of hives, keep epi-pen handy for bumble/wasp stings? I'm leaning toward B, but I want to know for sure.

2. Why would her reaction be so different? Does the same dog typically see widely varied reaction, depending on where it was stung? (Would outside of snout be so much different than inside of lip or inside of toes?)

3. The first day after install (when doggie got the stings), it looked like the foragers were pretty inexperienced (multiple passes required to land), but they've gotten way better. This made me think they were young nurse bees that were on the frames from the split, and were then pressed into service as foragers. Would the age of the bees have a big difference in the reaction of the sting?

4. Would different breeds of bees have wildly different sting reaction?

And I guess what I'm really looking for is:

5. What are your experiences with dogs and bee stings? Does this sound uncommon? Is this very common? How worried should we be?

We're not interested in risking the dog's safety. If it sounds like she's at increased risk now than the typical dog, then we may have a problem (and have to prep for the bumbles/wasps that are all around), but if this is typical dog/bee behaviour/responses, then I'm less worried.

Thanks so much for replying!
 

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I've got a working dog - a Texas Blue Lacy. He's a blood tracker (wounded deer recovery) and feral hog hunter. By nature he is very inquisitive of anything that moves. First time he was around our bees he snapped at them, got stung in the face - which didn't swell - and the toe which did swell. The next time he was stung in the nose. He laid down and didn't want to get up. I had to carry him to the truck but he was fine after an hour. The laying down was a natural reaction to bites and stings. A friend had a dog that was bit by a Copperhead snake - poisonous. The dog laid down for 24 hours and let the poison run through his system. That and benadryl saved his life. Long story short, dogs react differently for each sting.
 

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My Shepherd is known for picking up lone stragglers out on the porch and eating them, I don't know why he has such great kibble. I have seen his prey turn around and sting him in the ear, nose, and lips and he has yet to have an allergic reaction. But those are just the times I have seen, I know he's had more since I have seen his raised bumps from the sting, and when he comes in from those he is the same way he just wants to go lay down somewhere cold. I keep the webpage on my laptop for how much Benadryl to give a dog for it's weight, just to be on the safe side though! Good job staying on top of her and getting her to the vet in time!
 

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my dog gets stung all the time and never seems to learn he still snaps at them, and never a reaction that i've noticed, but I assume just like people, no two stings are the same, sometimes when I get stung it's nothing worse than a typical mosquito bite, othertimes things swell up like a balloon.
 

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Before you get rid of your bees check your yard for other stinging insects. My two dogs, one a 45 lb German Shepard the other 110 lb bull dog. They both have learned to stay away from the hives. The bull dog usually stays at the house away from the bees. The shepherd goes everywhere I go but will stay ten to fifteen yards away from me when I work the bees. Both have been stung numerous times. Easier for the bull dog to take a sting because he has very short hair and the shepherds is long. One morning about two months ago I found the bulldog very swollen around his head and mouth, earlier he was fine. Since he does not go around the bees anymore and he never swelled from the bee stings before I believe he was stung by wasp or yellow jackets and not bees. I gave him Benadryl and let him spend the day sleeping inside under the air conditioning and he was back to normal within about six hours.
 

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My dog gets stung a few times a year. She was chased down last year after sticking her nose where it didn't belong and got whacked about a dozen times. she had some nearly instant swelling where she took a hit to the face - she took most of the hits (at a run) on her back and thighs - she stayed in the house the rest of the day and snoozed. She was a bit lethargic the next day showed a little swelling, but it didn't seem to bother her.. the following day she was fine.

This did change my dog's habits...She does keep one eye glued on the hive entrance when she is anywhere near it now... however, he still snaps at any bee that violates her airspace.... .

Sky
 

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My dog who isis allergic to everything including bees, spent them first couple of months smoothing bees on clover with her nose and then breaking out in itchy hives every where. She has had benadryl shots , and we keep it on hand. We also have prednisone for when she does breakout. She has since learned to leave them alone. My other two one has yet to get stung and the other took a few to the face once time but no reaction. Good luck, not sure if my info helps at all but maybe it will.
 

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Agree with Gskip, check for wasps, hornets, especially bumblebees, growing up on the farm, have seen dogs go berserk running and crying after one bumblebee sting. Did you see that it was honeybees? Also, honeybee stings are bothersome, but hornet, yellow jacket and bumblebee stings really hurt me.
 

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can't answer your concerns, but why not just teach your dog to stay at a distance from the hives instead of quitting.
Never quit, Adapt! Solve the problem. This World has to many people shouting "I quit" and they never really tried.
mo
 

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If indeed your honey bees are the culprit, can you change the location of the hives? Possibly to somewhere that the dog is less likely to go? How about putting a fence around the hives to keep your dog out and away from the hives? Or how about putting a taller solid fence around the hives to keep their flight path up and away from the ground?
 

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If indeed your honey bees are the culprit, can you change the location of the hives? Possibly to somewhere that the dog is less likely to go? How about putting a fence around the hives to keep your dog out and away from the hives? Or how about putting a taller solid fence around the hives to keep their flight path up and away from the ground?
That sounds like a good plan.
 

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Flyway barrier. Bamboo fence from Lowes or home depot. Causes them to go up and out but still allows light to easily pass through.
 

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We have a black mouth cur mix with very short hair. After working the hives, the bees that escort me back to the wood shop turned on my dog who was nearby. He threw himself down trying to get them off and we tried to hurry him back to the house, to outrun the bee escorts. He did swell up around his eye and I gave him a Benadryl. Now I make sure he is not near me when I come back in from the pasture with my bee wagon in tow because I believe he is allergic to them.

Good luck and just try to not let your dog near the hives.
 
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