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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
end of first year beekeeper here and in this first year, I've received 9 stings. I've had the usual swelling, itching and redness associated with the first stings, and then I got stung near my right eye. My eye was swollen shut within a few hours, half of my face was swollen and bloated for a week. It took 3 days before I could open my eye again. In the last 3 weeks I've been stung on my right eye and my left. This last one I had a bad reaction, broke out in hives, labored breathing but not necessarily swelling in my throat. A bit of arrhythmia with my heart beat, itching palms and feet, etc. My wife ended up taking me to ER, then urgent care to get steroid shots, benedryl and other meds. I also now have a scrip for Epi pens, which I've filled and keep one in my suit.
I know I should probably get tested for the allergy to the venom. Since the progression of my reaction seems to be getting worse with each sting, maybe the next might have an analeptic reaction, thus the pen.
I've found too that I may have to wear my suit at all times around the hives as they seem to single me out for a target even when other beeks are around. It could be they just hate my eyebrows maybe? :)
I've fallen in love with the hobby, and don't want to give it up. My wife can do most of it and I can provide assistance when needed.
Anyone have something similar happen to them?
 

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Around the eyes is always a bad spot for me. Your veil will help prevent this, but you have to wear it.

You could consider stinging yourself on the thigh or somewhere that isn't as sensitive to try to build up your immunity. But you need to use extreme caution since the symptoms you are reporting appear to be systemic. If you look, I think you might find some info by Charles Mraz on building up immunity to bee venom.
 

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I had my first bad reaction last weekend. My hand was so swollen I couldn't use it and stayed that way for two days. I too love the hobby, and will continue. I'm just going to wear the armor every time. I have noticed that I only get stung, when and where I'm not protected. So I can fix this problem.
I'm also going to get a pen. I'm about 30 minutes to the closest ER...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the responses. I've not been stung when I was suited up, or with a veil. So I know my first problem is between my ears.
I had gotten so used to just walking up to observe though, and would only stay a moment, I had no fear. I see on video so many other beeks with no protection on, working boxes, I think I can do that also.
I've read about de-sensitization to the venom, many shots, and many years of treatment. I'll look up Charles Mraz to do a bit of research. Meanwhile I'll have to re-train to suit up when going out. My dog learned to
just stay up on the porch when we're working the hives. He's a lot smarter than I am, only took one sting to teach him.
 

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If you wanted to develop tolerance and reduce your chance of developing a heightened sensitivity (allergy) to honey bee venom/stings; instead of nine (9) stings per year, you should have been looking for around nine (9) stings per day, or at least nine (9) stings per week. Since I began beekeeping in 1966, I've been stung hundreds of times per year, and in my current warmer climate, year-'round stinging is typical. The only reaction I have to stings is the momentary burning sensation as the sting penetrates and the venom is injected - lasts about 15-20 seconds, but seems like more than a minute (ouch).

My understanding is that allergies develop after someone has been exposed to an allergen, and then an extended period of time passes without additional, regular exposures to the same allergen. Apparently in the interim your body continues making chemicals to counteract the allergen, so the next time you are exposed, your body has prepared such an overwhelming response to the allergen, that it actually harms yourself, in its attempt to counteract the allergen.

I would strongly advise engaging an allergy specialist doctor and following their directions - to possibly become desensitized.
 

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I got stung 9 times today, a little more than average. Fingertips hurt the worst, got 6 in the small of my back which now feels great. No swelling at all after a couple of hours. I couldn't find my butane lighter, so I didn't smoke. Also didn't have a belt on which left me exposed when I bent over.

I'm still waiting for my purchased queens to take over the hives' behavior which are all on the hot side. I'm wondering if I'll need to start taking motrin again if I wind up with t-shirt bees.

I was told when I started with bees to be sure to get stung at least once a day for the first month. Excellent advice! Either you'll get out quick, or your body will adapt.
 

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BeePappy- I would be careful with your next beestings as they could result in an anaphylactic reaction. Most people can safely desensitize to the venom naturally with beestings but if you've had a broad reaction other than a localized one (diffuse rash, shortness of breath etc.) your next sting could be even more severe. I would think about going to an allergist for testing and possible desensitization shots (in the docs office). The older you are the more important this is.
 

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BEE Pappy--

Get tested ASAP---it is a simple test done at an allergist but you need to know if you have developed an allergy--I had similar "ramping up" of reactions and so I got tested and sure enough I have developed an allergy. You can become allergic overtime as your body becomes hypersensitive to the venom.

All is not lost if you are allergic--In my case I need to wear a full suit and I am getting desensitized right now, eventually I may not even need the full suit again according to my Dr.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks dynemd and xcugat for your opinions. That was my line of thinking as the progression of my reactions is ramping up obviously. So something is happening for sure, and I need to know what it is. The logic is that my next sting could possibly induce and anaphylactic reaction. It is rare, but it could happen. I'll get an appt. with an allergist asap.
I remember the first stings I got with these girls, and it was nothing really, hardly noticed. But with each successive sting, more swelling, redness and itchiness has been the result. I also sensed the rush through my bloodstream. And then with the facial stings, much more severe as described above.
 

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I got my first start at beekeeping from recieving my grandfathers hives many years ago. He had to give it up because he suddenly developed a bad reaction to a sting. This was after keeping bees for over 20 years. He almost never wore a veil, just t-shirt and work pants. He got stung all the time, he used to laugh and tell everyone that it did not hurt at all. Then all of a sudden he started swelling and having trouble breathing. He never understood how he could get stung so many times for so many years with almost no reaction then everything changes and 1 sting sends him to the ER. As for me, I do not like getting stung. I almost always have my jacket and veil on when I am close to my hives. I still average about 15-20 stings a year to my hands and through my jeans. I can deal with that, but do not like stings to face or neck.
 

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In Pat Wagner's book HOW WELL ARE YOU WILLING TO BEE??? on page 62 she writes about how Charles Mraz told her the way to desensitize someone to bee stings. But he told her it takes a long time (2 weeks).

It basically entails getting a sting and removing the stinger immediately. If all is ok after an hour repeat until 5 stings have been given. Repeat the next day. And if there are still no problems the repeat every other day for for the remainder of the 2 weeks. At which point the person has become desensitized.

Btw, I recommend this book for the wonderful personal accounts of healing for various diseases and conditions for which "modern medicine" has failed to help.
 

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I went through a similar experience with sting reactions. I had to stop keeping bees for a while but I found a beekeeper/apitherapist in the area and went on a progressive weekly sting routine. It was not pleasant, and it took several months, but it did work.

I would suggest you visit your Doctor first and have some testing done. Best of luck to you.
 
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