For me, the level of swelling often depends on how quickly the stinger is removed. If it stays in for one to two seconds longer than another, the difference can be substantial. I try not to move too quickly after taking a hit, but I do proceed as quickly "as possible" to get both smoke - and stinger out!
I am a hobbist who rarely gets stung more than once a month. That being said if I get stung on the hand or ankle I always take a benedryl pill immediately. Otherwise on the ankle I'll hobble around for 2 days. The antihistamine really reduces the swelling. So part of my beekeeping kit is water and benedryl. If I wait more than 5 minutes any sting will swell.
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