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NEED ADVICE! Bad reaction to sting!

7730 Views 30 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  Cabin
Okay, so I checked my hive today and got stung on my ankle and on my thigh four times (yes, I had a suit on). I always react with a lot of swelling and redness as much as 6 inches from bee sting, but never like this.

After being stung today I got inside as quickly as I could and my feet, palms, and scalp were itching terribly. I felt dizzy and my tongue felt numb. I hurried up and took two benadryl while deciding if I needed an ER visit or not. When I saw hives and redness develop on my entire body, I drove right to the ER. At this point, it felt funny to swallow.

After about 20 mins from being stung, I was completely swollen from head to toe and bright red and full of hives. My heart rate was about 120 in the ER. An IV and steroids later... I'm debating if I should continue this hobby.

I have two hives on our property... what are your thoughts? What would you do? I've never reacted like this before...EVER.
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Often, allergic reactions can get worse with each exposure. If you decide to continue, you definitely need to carry an epi pen. I love my bees dearly, but they are not worth my life. It is your choice, but stay safe!
I would see an Allergist before you get back at it. They can tell you what to do to minimize your risk and get you a Epi-Pen if you need it. We had one speak to our club last year and he said that you are more likely to have a reaction as you get stung more. Until it reaches a point that you get immunity. That is after several hundred stings.
Yeah I had an epi-pen prescribed today, but the risk seems scary still. : / I'm definitely noticing more of a reaction with each sting.

I'm just looking for some second opinions, so thank you so much!
The other thing you can do is get a full suit. I have the Ultra-Breeze suit and have never been stung through it. I'm sure the bees can't get to me as long as I seal it up tight. I usually use a jacket, but if I'm doing a lot of work, I find the full suit to be cooler.
bk...I, too, react very badly to stings, and was close to the point you are. I finally pulled the trigger and bought a full ventilated suit and rubber boots. Cotton suits don't stop the stings. I may look silly, but I don't care...I can't take the chance. The ventilated suit has never let me down...the fabric is too thick for their stingers, even when tight to an elbow or knee...I am even still doing removals with confidence. Good luck! As others have said, be careful!
benadryl pills will not be absorbed fast enough. either epi pen or liquid benadryl at least.
I'm just looking for some second opinions, so thank you so much!
I have very similar reactions when eating peanuts. The itching palms, the swelling, the suffocating feeling, the trips to the ER. I never eat peanuts intentionally, & I haven't had that reaction for at least 30 years now (I'm 64). These things can happen very suddenly, and death only comes once. I would sell the bees, you are tempting fate.
The reaction you describe, is quite similar to a reaction I once had to penicillin. It is entirely unpleasant, to say the least.

I would certainly recommend getting the advice of an allergy specialist. Remember, A. I. Root, a famous beekeeper, was deathly allergic to honey bees, too. He developed his own desensitization regimen, which, fortunately worked for him.
You're lucky you were able to drive yourself to the ER. I too have an UltraBreeze full suit and have not been stung through it. Having an epi pen is a start but no guarantee of relief. You need to take all necessary precautions including recommendations from your local allergist.
Allergists can administer a de-sensitization course of shots (very controlled and increasing dosages). Insurance will cover this, but plans with high co-pay will still be expensive, as you must be monitored in the allergists office for the risk period of reaction for each shot. Someone on this forum recounted going critical in the docs office after a treatment, so the risk is real. There are several protocols which vary in frequency and the ramp up of dosage.

*** I went through the rapid de-sens course and recommend it. ***
The first sting of the season is the worst, and now my reaction tails off after that one. This is similar to the naturally resistant folks, who report a de-sensitization as the season progresses.

Definitely do not base your decision on some random post on the internet, go talk to an allergist, get their assessment. They will do skin tests and measure reaction.
time to talk to a good doctor then get a second opinion.
I've never had a reaction to a sting other than local red spot and a bit of swelling. And since I started wearing an Ultra Breeze suit I've never been stung. However, I carry 2 Epi Pens in my ultra breeze suit pocket just in case. 1 for me and 1 for anyone who might be out with me or close by. Also have benadryl in the truck. I know one guy who take a benadryl everytime before he works his hives so it's in his system already. I don't go that far, but if was allergic and didn't want to give up keeping bees I might.

I can't speak for you of course, but for me if I was allergic, I think that I'd look into a good suit (like an ultra breeze), maybe take a benadryl before working hives, and have an epipen in your pocket. Yor reaction while scary was treatable, and with a good suit and some habitual precautions the risk of getting stung is minimal. I guess you have the weigh the risk/benefit ratio for yourself though.
bkristanne, it is good to hear that you got the help that you needed. It is also good to hear that others have experienced this same issue, and continued to work with bees. There was a recent thread on venom immunotherapy, which may be helpful to you:

All: Please keep in mind that use of an epi pen can be hazardous, too. Prudent practice suggests that a prescribing physician will check your cardiovascular health before writing a script, and you should still seek medical attention after using the pen.
Why risk it. Either sell to a neighbor or a friend.
I had a bad reaction, was taken to the ER. I did get the scrip for an Epi pen which I now carry with me everywhere as bees can be everywhere. I chose to continue with bee keeping. So the first thing to do is make your decision. If you want to continue with bee keeping, you need to see an allergy specialist. Make the appt. now but you have to wait 6 weeks after the last sting, then you get tested for the allergy. I tested positive. I have now begun the venom immunotherapy. My insurance deductible is too high to do me any good, so I'll end up paying out of pocket. For our insurance it is designated as non preventative (Government) so does not qualify for an "office visit" which is a smaller co-pay. You don't have to be a bee keeper to get stung, so going the route of getting to a point of a "normal" reaction to the sting is worth it to me. To be able to continue with this hobby I love is very valuable to me. There can be risks in many different things we do or choices we make. If you decide to not continue with bee keeping, then you already know what to do. Good luck to you either way.
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Medical advice on a free internet forum is worth what you pay for it. For example: There are big differences between an antihistamine like Benadryl and injectable epinephrine like in an Epi-pen. But don't take my word for it. Ask your doctor.

As for what I would do. I'd go see my doctor and tell him I am going to continue and would like for him to make my hobby as safe as possible. I react badly to stings but have not had quite so bad a reaction as you. I have not been stung 5 times in the same area though.
See an allergist, mentioned. Check.

Better suit. The best you can afford. Mentioned. Check.

Epi-Pen, also has risks, but could dave your life, mentioned. Check.

Nicer bees? Haven't seen that mentioned. I spent a year working on a farm with 9 hives and never got stung, even during inspections with no gear on. Then, I spent countless hours in the bee yard of the bee breeder I got my nucs from just asking info, inspecting his hives, etc. Never stung. So...perhpas there are nicer bees out there for you?
Remember, A. I. Root, a famous beekeeper, was deathly allergic to honey bees, too. He developed his own desensitization regimen, which, fortunately worked for him.
I have never seen that. You want to tell us where you got that info?
I realize that it is a fascinating hobby, but it is not worth your life. An Epi pen is not a failsafe either as most think. It also comes with it's own drawbacks as you still have to seek medical attention after use.
Sounds to me that you have a pretty severe allegic reaction. DO NOT take what your body is telling you lightly.
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