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Talk to me about anaphylactic shock?

4380 Views 25 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  Batman
Well, the cutout for Sunday didn't go exactly as planned (no, the ambulance and chest pains were not factored in originally). Fiance' got nailed about 12 - 15 time (his estimate) in the wrists, as a less then happy clump of bees fell down the cuff of his glove. I don't know if one bee got him in a vein or he just didn't remove all the vein sacs or he panicked which just made bad that much worse, but he got bad chest pains, changed about 4 color, and went numb to the point for a hospital run. Diagnosis is anaphylactic shock. We are working on getting an appointment with an allergist to sort things out, but I am looking for information from the other side. Now, I know that when I have gotten stung a bunch, I can get a headache, feel nausea, etc, and it subsides in a bit. This year, I haven't had near the symptoms as last year. Talked with a friend today about it, he's been stung up to 35 times in a short period of time and had similiar symptoms that I did, but not to the point of chests pains and such. What are the chances that this is a fluke? That this is going to end his beekeeping adventures? Experiences? Questions for the allergist? Etc?

Thanks for listening!
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Please check out this recent thread called "Anxiety or Allergy?" on the Bee Forum part of this site. Lot of good discussion/information.

Good luck!
Allergic reactions to bee stings is something to take serious. Always have a Epi-pen no matter what. Next time they may not make it till the ambulance gets there. You may not have ever had a reaction and the next time you get stung you could have one.

Might be time they get tested for bee allergies, everyone is different.
here is my SoapBox. and I will preach this till the day I die! Wear a compleat beesuit zipped up! wear goatskin gloves get used to them yes you might squish a few. always use smoke. the above reasons are the less chance of getting stung the less chance of a allegic reaction everytime a person get stung is one step closer to the anaphylactic shock and or death. it ain't woth the mocho or feel as one with my bees. i just wear my vail or nitril gloves that is a good way to get in problems down the road. I feel for your love one I hope he makes a full and speed recovery. but his beekeeping days maybe over. I have family that has been stung like him and even shots won't help now to lessen the problem so I feel for you.
As beekeeper1 said, part of your standard equipment when working bees--- especially a cutout--- should be an up-to-date Epi pen. I keep one in every vehicle I might have with me when I do a cutout. I'm not allergic, although I swell up like a puffer fish wherever I'm stung; but you never know when it might go anaphylactic.

Besides, when you're doing a cutout you almost always attract spectators, and if one of them gets stung and starts to react badly, you want to be prepared to help.
Bee Bliss has the right thread to go to for some really good info, but while I am here I will add my updates.

Per my Dr & Allergist, its not just a fluke, once you have the reaction you will have them again. My blood test came back positive for honey bee allergy and today I got six shots in my arm to test for other stinging insects, turns out I am now allergic to everything except yellow wasp. My next course of treatment starts in about two weeks, this will be six weeks of four shots a week followed by upto 5 years of one shot per month.
I now wear my jacket and gloves on every inspection including just going into the yard to watch. I have purchased a full suit for cutouts and harvest time.
I went thru this path too. Complete allergy test for stinging insects, somewhere around 20 mini shots and then comparison of the weals they produced. Results showed allergic to hornets and wasps.
Couple of months of 2 shots a week, then 6 couple more months of 2 shots every 2 weeks followed by 6 months of 2 shots every 4 weeks. Now on maintenance of 2 shots every 8 weeks for rest of life. Bad news is if you break the shot regime you have to start again. Good new is I no longer carry an epipen and something must have worked as I have had several yellow jacket stings with no noticeable reaction.
Now when I got the bee sting under the eye last weeks that was a noticeable reaction - still look like I was in a bar brawl.

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Be careful with the Epi-pen. If the person is not going into shock, it can do way more harm then good. You have to understand how to use it. If a person is just having a panic attack, which is common, it is possible to kill someone with that pen.
In anaphylaxis all your blood vessels massively dilate and you drop your blood pressure essentially going into shock. HIs coronary arteries went into spasm and squeezed like mad to narrow the diameter to keep up the perfusion pressure of blood to his heart. Epinephrine constricts all vessels including coronaries but we hope it constricts the peripheral vessels the most to increase blood flow back to the heart and take the load off the heart. Epi is dicey to play with especially if you have existing heart disease or underlying silent heart disease.

Densensitization therapy takes two years of intensive shot therapy and even then it doesnt work in 1 out of 5 people. Chest pains and turning color (not getting enough oxygen) is enough to call it quits in my book. I'm obsessed with my bees and i have 11 hives but i wouldnt put my life on the line for them.
Densensitization therapy takes two years of intensive shot therapy and even then it doesnt work in 1 out of 5 people.
Both my Dr and Allergist tell me that the desensitization treatment is far more effective for stinging insects than it is for other types of allergies. The fast track treatment they are putting me on basically takes six weeks (four shots a week), then one shot every month to maintain the effect. I can live with one shot a month to maintain my hobby.
This is my second year, and generally I just wore a veil, longsleeve shirt and gloves. Still got stung and generally had some pretty nasty swelling. Finally realized I wasn't building a "resistance" and bought the jacket, which I wear with thicker white painters pants. Did my first split (3 of 'em) last night. had 3 hive making honey like crazy but showing early signs of swarming.

Bees were not happy as I tore into the bottom burr comb encrusted deeps. The commerical jacket worked just great. Really like the self supporting veil. All this allowed me to "enjoy" the cloud of bees I made, while at the same time putting together the splits.
I've followed this post closely since my dad kept bees when I was younger, probably where I got the bug from. He kept them for about 4 years, but got out after he became anaphylatic allergic. He wasn't allergic when he started, so it developed over time. Everytime I get stung, usually while doing a cut out, I wonder "is this it? Is this the one that's gonna force me out too?" So far, that has not been the case and it does at least appear that my reactions have been less and less, even on the swelling part. A little discomfort for 15-30 mins, but other than that, not too bad unless I accidentally hit the spot. So I am curious, and I developing and immunity/tolerance, or do I still need to be concerned that that next one could be it? I'm with Honeydreams, gear, gear, GEAR! I have handled bees enough without to either prove I just crazy enough, or not scared. There are still times that I will do something with minimal gear, but for the most part, I want to protect myself from that dreaded day that I hope never comes and forces me out of keeping bees, and gear is the way to go.

Though I might still drop a swarm without gear just to get that good picture so that people will go with the "he's crazy" comment. Most people tend not to mess with crazy people :eek:
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So much for the theory of building up resistance by getting stung more often. :lookout:

I have been beekeeping for a year and a half. Been stung by plenty of bees, hornets, and wasps prior to beekeeping and never had much of a reaction (a little pain, a little redness, and slight swelling at the sting). Been stung half a dozen times since starting beekeeping and never had that much of a reaction. UNTIL....... two weeks ago I took a sting to the forearm. It didnt even hurt and I couldnt find the exact spot were I was hit. No problem, I though. When I woke up the next morning my fore arm swelled to twice it's normal size (looked like Popeye). The swelling progressed up my arm to my biceps and shoulder. It got to the point were I couldnt put on a long sleeve shirt.

Wonder what will happen next time?
As a person with a history of sting allergies, I have been through most all of what has been said hear. I got into desensitization program as a teen so I avoided the anaphylactic aspect. If it hasn't been stated before, even if it has, what should be gleaned from these posts is,,Everyone is different in this respect. In this day of modern medicine, a death of a beekeeper from bee stings should not happen. Being allergic doesn't HAVE to stop you from beekeeping. You will know what you need to do to protect yourself. But dying will.
I guess I've beat this horse enough.:)

Rick SoMd
Honeydreams, I started a package in May after being away from bees for 23 years. It has been a real joy to inspect my bees at least 6 times with no veil, gloves, or smoke.

The only sting was where I pinched one with my finger. None of this hitting like a 45 slug or dancing at the end of my nose. These things ( veil, gloves, smoke ) all have their place. I agree that AP shock is VERY SERIOUS !

It is important for me to keep GENTLE bees that I can enjoy without all that gear.
I wouldnt expect a new package installed 2 months ago to be very agressive.

These things ( veil, gloves, smoke ) all have their place.......
Yeah, like next month when there is a dearth, or the month after that when you are stealing your honey crop, or when your hive goes Queenless..........
Bears repeating:

An allergic reaction to a bee sting would be at least one of the following: difficulty breathing, heart racing, hives way away from the sting site. Use the epi pen if you have one and get to the ER asap. If possible, also take Benedryll asap. Benedryll is important also.

A local reaction would not have the above allergic symptoms, but is rather swelling (even great swelling), itching, redness around sting site, warmth and/or bruising around sting site. It is possible for a local reaction of swelling to cause difficulty breathing just because it is near/in the mouth or neck/throat. Get to the ER for any breathing issues.

Many people (and some doctors) mistakenly think if there is quite a bit of swelling that that must mean they are allergic. That is not true. Great swelling is a sign of a good immune system per apitherapists, etc. In fact, apitherapists like to see swelling as it is an indication that the sting therapy will be effective. Early on in BVT a person may have a great swell and then they no longer get that big reaction as they build up to the bee venom, but the therapy will continue to benefit them.


A beek should always at least have Benedryll with them to use in case they show allergic reaction to a sting. If they are known to be allergic, they better also have that epi pen with them and use it properly. They should probably not be alone while working hives.
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Many people (and some doctors) mistakenly think if there is quite a bit of swelling that that must mean they are allergic. That is not true. Great swelling is a sign of a good immune system per apitherapists, etc. In fact, apitherapists like to see swelling as it is an indication that the sting therapy will be effective. Early on in BVT a person may have a great swell and then they no longer get that big reaction as they build up to the bee venom, but the therapy will continue to benefit them.
But I went from a very minor reaction to my are swelling up like a giant sausage. So what's going to happen to me next time? Back to minor irritation, another sausage fest, or a coma? I almost want to get stung again so I at least know what is going to happen. But then again, I think I will stay fully suited and gloved for now, and get an epipen.
We were told by an apitherapist that when undergoing BVT, a great swell doesn't always occur right away, that it might not occur, or it could happen a few times. If it does occur, it generally will be during the first 2 to 6 weeks. Your body's immune system is working great and shows up as a lot of swelling. Sometimes people feel sick after multiple stings and this is a sign of your body purging. We were told that bee venom in our system causes a rapid killing of pathogens and we could temporarily feel sickish and not to worry. Bee venom causes an immune response from your body. The body get stung and triggers the brain to signal and send pain relief chemicals to the area, increases blood flow (body fluids, i.e. swelling) to the area, etc. Bee venom stimulates the immune system instead of repressing immune response like some drugs do. We were told to not take steroids. As we built up resistance (immunity) to the bee venom, we hardly swelled and had no itching. One of us went from a catcher's mitt no-knuckle hand from a mini sting to no swelling on same hand with 5 to 8 stings on it at one time.

Hard to say, so many variables. Obviously BVT and incidental stings are not necessarily the same. You certainly can develop an allergy, however, great local swelling is not an allergic reaction, just a sign of a good immune system. Hopefully, this will take away some worries.

I am interested to know people's experiences that have great local swelling and then have subsequently been stung again. But, again, there is that frequency variable. Also, people can have both an allergic reaction and a local reaction at the same time, I would think.
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Initially I experienced profound swelling but for the past several years I have become less and less reactive. Stung five times yesterday requeening a hot hive and I can hardly find the sting sites today, but, am I ready to forgo the Epi pen? Not on my life! We are all different and we are all changing. Yes you can do some real harm with an Epi pen but if you are going into AP shock, it is the right course of action.
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