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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've heard that beekeepers eventually become immune to stings, that it still hurts, but there's none of the swelling and itching. How many times do you have to get stung to build up such an immunity? I feel like I should be there by now, but I'm not. If it's gonna take another couple of years or so, then I need to prepare myself for the long haul.
 

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I use to swell pretty bad when first started. Not much swelling unless one gets me on the face, and not much then. More of an itch like a mosquito bite, most times it is gone in under an hour. Next day some times a small pustule. Finger stings will leave a tiny blood spot under the skin. Course that was back in the 70's when I got started and kept some pretty vicious bees, 20 to 30 stings was the normal cussing rain dance inspection (yes I had a bee suit and gloves on), by then I had seen enough for the week.

I know this did not answer your question but I would think each individual is different. Have known some keeps that had bees for years and then all of a sudden things went bad for them and they became allergic or started swelling really bad.

Yeah it still hurts and sometimes it is a surprise, I can tell most times when a bee lands on me if she is just looking around or means business. It is a totally different feel when she lands.
 

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I've heard that beekeepers eventually become immune to stings, that it still hurts, but there's none of the swelling and itching. How many times do you have to get stung to build up such an immunity? I feel like I should be there by now, but I'm not. If it's gonna take another couple of years or so, then I need to prepare myself for the long haul.
I'm sure it really depends upon the individual and their skill as a beekeeper. I am in my third year and I'm not very skilled. I still think I get stung to much. I have about 10 hives and if I am doing a deep inspection I figure I get stung at least a couple of times through latex gloves. By the middle of my second year, I started to barely notice them. Now unless the get to my face, they might generate a swear and they are forgotten.
 

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I started to not swell as much. But the most recent time I got stung I had an anaphylactic reaction. So, I would recommend caution and a avoid getting stung unnecessarily. After all, I think it's better to not get stung in the first place than to build up a resistance.
 

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I started to not swell as much. But the most recent time I got stung I had an anaphylactic reaction. So, I would recommend caution and a avoid getting stung unnecessarily. After all, I think it's better to not get stung in the first place than to build up a resistance.
Agreed although this is not predictable. If they can get their doc to write one a script for an epipen in the bee yard in invaluable. I always have one around.
 

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Start eating raw honey on a regular basis. Micheal Palmer said once something along the lines of having exposure to bee proteins through stings and through ingestion helps in reactions to the venom. I am convinced it helped me. But I still keep a fresh pack of benadryl in the medicine cabinet.
 

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Start eating raw honey on a regular basis. Micheal Palmer said once something along the lines of having exposure to bee proteins through stings and through ingestion helps in reactions to the venom. I am convinced it helped me. But I still keep a fresh pack of benadryl in the medicine cabinet.
Didn't really make the connection, but I have consumed more honey this year than the last 10, and 3-4x the number of stings (~200-300). Not sure what has done it, but I've been stung on the eyelid and around my eyebrow a few times this summer, and in 20 minutes there is no visible swelling. This used to make me look like a boxer a few years ago.

After reading about someone's experience on another forum I still think an epi-pen is a good idea. I think the next time I go in for a physical I'll get the doc to write for one. In this person's case they keep bees for 2 years and had several stings, the last of which threw up sort of a warning flag. Then 5 on the ankle started closing their throat and resulted in a ride to the ER. They didn't go from zero reaction to the ER in one episode, but it piqued my attention enough to think a pen would be a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The raw honey thing sounds good. Tenth, I agree that improving skills would help avoid stings, but most of the stings I've gotten lately are due to those big, clumsy beekeeping gloves. I've been squashing bees under my fingers without even knowing it until I feel the sting (yep, right through the gloves). I plan to change my armor to something with better dexterity. Struttinbuck, It would be awful to become allergic, but it's good to know that it's gradual enough that one has a chance to lay hands on an EpiPen.
 

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I'm not a big honey eater. I eat maybe a pint a year, well, no more than a quart per year for sure. I keep bees because of my fascination of the behavioral and social structures in a hive. The Biology of the hive workings. The inside of a hive is just so very intriguing and interesting to me. When I pop a lid, the whole rest of the world fades away and a calm peace comes with no worries at all. The hive has my very full attention, the sight, the smells, the sounds, the activities. Still wonderful to behold even after all these years.

I count my beesting immunity to the numbers of stings I've gotten over the years. It took me maybe 3 years or more for them to greatly reduce effect for me, and as time has gone on, it's very negligible for me now. No swelling at all, even with face or nose stings. I didn't wear a veil much in the beginning years, but now wear one because I get tired of getting stung in the nose. You see, I wore a straw hat and safety glasses, and the bees not being able to get to my eyes would go for up in the nose. WOW, those are real winners, even now. :p:eek::oops:

So anyway, now I do wear a veil most of the time now as I just don't like the nose stings and eyelid stings and such. It's just safety sense to wear a veil. I've not worn gloves in a couple decades, unless it's just AHB kind of bees. I crush less bees, and more careful and tender with moving frames around, etc. I like being able to feel what I'm doing. I do wear a veil almost every time, even though I can't see through them so well anymore. And I get a lot less stings now than I used to, but when I do they still hurt, sometimes quite strongly. Maybe it's my age and nerve sensitivity, but the pain goes away quick and no swelling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I count my beesting immunity to the numbers of stings I've gotten over the years. It took me maybe 3 years or more for them to greatly reduce effect for me, and as time has gone on, it's very negligible for me now. No swelling at all, even with face or nose stings. I didn't wear a veil much in the beginning years, but now wear one because I get tired of getting stung in the nose. You see, I wore a straw hat and safety glasses, and the bees not being able to get to my eyes would go for up in the nose. WOW, those are real winners, even now. :p:eek::oops:

So anyway, now I do wear a veil most of the time now as I just don't like the nose stings and eyelid stings and such. It's just safety sense to wear a veil. I've not worn gloves in a couple decades, unless it's just AHB kind of bees. I crush less bees, and more careful and tender with moving frames around, etc. I like being able to feel what I'm doing. I do wear a veil almost every time, even though I can't see through them so well anymore. And I get a lot less stings now than I used to, but when I do they still hurt, sometimes quite strongly. Maybe it's my age and nerve sensitivity, but the pain goes away quick and no swelling.
Okay, so maybe I shouldn't expect immunity for at least another couple of years. It's good to know, because I'm getting old and wasn't sure it could happen in my lifetime.

I totally agree about the veil and definitely wouldn't inspect my bees without one, although it's not necessary if I'm just visiting and observing. Unfortunately, my bees have figured out how to get under the veil and sting my face. No bueno! The veil on my bee hat is too short and leaves a gap around my neck, so I've been wearing a long, lightweight scarf over my head and shoulders with the veil worn on top of that. Sometime soon, I'm hoping to find a better, longer veil. So far, I haven't been stung on or in the nose, thank goodness. I don't even want to know what that's like!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I was immune the first year, after a month or two (20-30 stings) All I wear is a veil, tshirt/shorts.
So maybe individuals are different when it comes to immunity? I'm only about halfway to that many stings, so I'll see how things are when I get there.. I wear a veil to keep bees out of my nose and ears, gloves because I don't want to goop up my hands with propolis, and long pants because the thought of a bee going up my shorts and stinging anywhere between knees and belt is too awful to take the chance, IMHO. I admire the brave souls who dig into hives with no protection at all. I'm way too chicken for that!
 

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So maybe individuals are different when it comes to immunity? I'm only about halfway to that many stings, so I'll see how things are when I get there.. I wear a veil to keep bees out of my nose and ears, gloves because I don't want to goop up my hands with propolis, and long pants because the thought of a bee going up my shorts and stinging anywhere between knees and belt is too awful to take the chance, IMHO. I admire the brave souls who dig into hives with no protection at all. I'm way too chicken for that!
You have to get 20-30 in a month or so, not spread out over years, in January, it may barely swell till I get a few stings under my belt, then it's nothing again.
 

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Must be nice to wear a t-shirt and shorts. The mosquitos would carry me away if I tried that in the Florida panhandle on the coast. I'm covered head to toe because of them, more so than the bees.
I’d rather be stung 10x than get a single mosquito bite. Don’t care for them, don’t care for them at all.:oops:
 

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Me too, skeeter bites itch me to death.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You have to get 20-30 in a month or so, not spread out over years, in January, it may barely swell till I get a few stings under my belt, then it's nothing again.
In that case, I can forget ever becoming immune. Even once a week is enough for me to start looking very hard at ways to protect myself better and prevent whatever's causing the bees to sting.
 
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