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Bee stings

 
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:34 am    Post subject: Bee stings Reply with quote

Since starting with bees last year I have been trying to recieve bee stings regularly and I keep my bee suit washed. I usually wear a full suit and no gloves but keep gloves in my pocket so if they start to sting I can put them on and close up without receiving 50 stings! Sometimes the bees are calm and don't sting at all, especially hiving swarms.

Yesterday I got a couple of stings and there is more of a reaction than before. There is heat and slight swelling. I know a good few people who have developed a reaction to bee stings over time and usually drift away from bee keeping as a result . I am wondering if I have not been allowing enough stings to maintain relatively non-reactive. I have a recollection of a suggestion that stings are "hotter" as the season progresses, not sure if that makes a difference.

Do I need to get more stings and will that help?

I would appreciate your thoughts on how many bee stings you receive and how often, and if your reactions have changed over the years.

Kim
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

your bloody mad!!!!!!

I suit up to receive as few stings as possible, in 3yrs only 2 stings, I cant understand why anyone would intentionally try to get stung
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have reactions to the first stings I get each year but not after that. This is not a rule because if stung on a sensitive area it will swell anyway. Once a month is what I aim but so far I have got only one this spring so its time I do it myself I guess. I too wash my own suit and keep it away from my family in my workshop. It is not good exposing family members to bee venom dust from the suits which can develop C-immuno cells which are apparently the main reason some people develop allergy to bee stings. Actual sting will develop T-immuno cells which can cope with the venom. Just recently I have started only to use veil so to expose my body to occasional stings but for some reason my bees are extremely gentle this year.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dexter's shed wrote:
I cant understand why anyone would intentionally try to get stung


Because too few stings lead to allergic anapyllactic shocks and allergies over the time. So one sting this year, two stings next year, one year without a sting - irregularity leads to serious allergies.

The best is to get resistant to bee venom. I take 5-20 stings every day at summertime. I don't get any reaction to stings anymore. No swelling, no itching, no nothing. I sometimes even don't note them anymore.

Because of the resistance to beevenom I do not need gloves, I do not need a suit and I do not need a veil. I go naked to the bees and it is a freedom that makes beekeeping much more comfortable and enjoyable. Makes a good sleep, too.

I take care of lot of beginners in beekeeping and I always advice to take your stings. After a year with one sting per week most beginners are resistant. Most of them even start to like it.

Stings = bee kisses. Smile
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started keeping bees in 2010 and my first stings caused local swelling and itching - for up to 4 days afterwards.

Having averaged over 50 stings a year since then - and 69 YTD - stings still hurt but I am virtually immune.

I recommend it - you panic less if you are stung when you cannot do anything about it (like holding a full comb of brood and honey).

I keep gloveless and as my bees are generally good tempered, in warm days T shirt and shorts and no veil.. (But ONLY with my bees - and I cull queens which give runny or aggressive bees).


As my bees are in our garden , it's nice to show them to visitors and not have to suit them up..Smile

EDIT:

my family have received zero stings from my bees in this time. From bumble bees yes.


Last edited by madasafish on Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
your bloody mad!!!!!!


I'll take that as a compliment Wink , you're not the only one who thinks so. Thankfully I am not deterred from my mad ways!


Che, the sting on my upper arm must be a more sensitive area than usual and that may account for the reaction.

Berhnard, Thank you, I really needed to hear that. Funny, I have had the feeling of "I would like a sting" and I always go to the hives with the thought in my mind of gratitude for stings. Some days they don't sting and I don't go into the hives so often, I guess I only got 10 stings last year and not quite 10 this year. A part of me is apprehensive about receiving more than a couple of stings at a time.

Kim
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If no bees sting me I place an empty honey jar infront of the entrance (I close the entrance with it) and wait until a few guard bees fly into it then I quickly close it with a plastic lid which has a hole in it (20mm) but before the lid I place rubber which i cut from my gloves (the household ones). I cut a small slit in the rubber and with tweezers I take a bee and sting myself usually along the side of my neck because i suffer from stiff neck every so often. Time to do it again before the winter kicks in Smile
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

... whereas I avoid getting stung. It happens now and again, but I don't do it intentionally.

And, if you are reasonably careful and have a tame hive, it doesn't happen very often. Yes, they are "wild creatures," and they are engineered to sting and to defend their hive, but it simply doesn't happen very often.
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stevecook172001
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 443
Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've not been stung once since getting bees. To be honest I would have expected to have been stung by now. I don't usually wear gloves and my ankles are sometime exposed when I haven't bothered to put socks on. Not out of trying to get stung. But because thick gloves are irritating as hell. Same for socks. I have noticed a slight increase in aggressiveness in hive 1 and the bees in hive 1 look to a be a slightly different colour with a band of orange that isn't present in my new hive which came from a primary swarm from hive 1. So, I am guessing that hive 1's new queen has mated with one of the locals and is producing hybrids as a consequence. as I have read that they can sometimes be more aggressive. Then again, it might be to do with the fact that their number fell perilously low after a casting a second swarm (which I didn't manage to catch) and so this might have made them vulnerable to robbing. To be honest, for the last few weeks, I have not been around the hives too much as I am preparing to move. Found a new place to live for me and Alison, but it's not suitable for bees and so looking for somewhere local to site them where I can get to them easily on a regular basis. Another member on here has kindly offered to put them up as a temporary measure but, given he's a few miles from me, I'm hoping to not have to take him up on that offer by finding something suitable closer to York. I'll hopefully get somewhere sorted in the next 6 weeks before moving.

Anyway, just thought I'd have a ramble on for a few minutes..... Laughing
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting thread - Especially about the unstung members of a beekeeper's household. (Can imagine that people's families are not likely to be mad keen on deliberately being stung to keep them safer!)

I was most anxious about being stung on the hands (as I do massage) but do get stung there. Now, and I guess also because of the unfleshy nature of fingers, and because the stings have mostly been through gloves, the swelling's not severe and has gone by the next day. I have noticed though that one or two finger joints, and my wrist, which were showing signs of arthritis starting up, have been very quiet for over a year. I don't know how long this effect might be expected to last.

- I read somewhere that if you've been taking ibuprofen, that can exacerbate the effect of stings, but don't know if others have found that.


Last edited by Lacewing on Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When we first went to our local association saying we would like to keep bees (about 14 years ago), a member suggested keeping his bees here. We agreed thinking it was a good way to start. He couldn't keep bees in his own garden any more because his wife and children were VERY allergic to bee stings. He believed it was because his wife washed his bee suit and was exposed to the venom dust. I have been careful to keep my suit washed although I don't wash it after a day when I have not prompted them to sting.

I understood that bee-keeping gardeners are less prone to arthritis. Nettle stings are also supposed to help prevent arthritis. I hope I am many years away from such worries but gardeners are prone to aching joints so hopefully stings will help in the long term.

Kim
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

B kind wrote:

I understood that bee-keeping gardeners are less prone to arthritis. Nettle stings are also supposed to help prevent arthritis. I hope I am many years away from such worries but gardeners are prone to aching joints so hopefully stings will help in the long term.

Kim


Before beekeeping, I had arthritis in one finger joint. It is still there.. but much less severe.
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Ed the Beek
House Bee


Joined: 11 Jun 2014
Posts: 12
Location: St Ives, Cambridgeshire

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Before beekeeping, I had arthritis in one finger joint. It is still there.. but much less severe."

I think it depends on what type of Arthritis you have rheumatoid or osteo, I think bee stings are beneficial to Rheumatoid Arthritis not Osteo.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Off topic;
Read on Niacin B3 vitamin for Arthritis
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It took me a little while to find lightweight beekeeper's gloves which breathe. They're a sturdy, yet washable leather (I guess it's leather ...) with a long cloth sleeve. They're the only "other" thing that I actually did buy from Pigeon Mountain (which is just down the road).

"Armor plating" isn't the name of this game. Like you, I have very rarely been stung. The purpose is: a good grip, keeps the black sticky-stuff of your hands(!!!), doesn't make your hands sweat, and you can throw it into the washing machine in one piece and take it out again, still in one piece.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whenever I smell at my fingers I smell propolis, wax and bees. Wouldn't want to miss it. Wink
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting.
last spring I had a reaction, (tongue started swelling) after being stung so I now have an epipen but have been stung this year and it is back to only very mild itching.

I don't get stung very often but don't go out of my way to get a regular fix!
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree Bernhard, the smell and stains last for days. I love the smell but the propolis stains make me look like an habitual smoker and as the skin on my hands is already dry and prone to keens I am struggling to find anything to remove it that does not make my hands worse. Not that I personally mind having stained hands but they look a bit unsightly when I am out in company. I would still rather have stained hands that take the odd sting than wear gloves, unless it is a very unhappy colony and I usually keep gloves nearby, just in case things turn unpleasant.

On the original topic of sting reaction, I too find it varies with location on the body and number of stings and some stings seem to be more potent than others but it may be down to how quickly the sting is removed. Sometimes I can actually feel the venom pulsing and spreading with my blood supply, which is a really odd sensation, other times it remains more localized. I suppose it might depend if the sting goes into fatty tissue or hits a capillary directly and also how thick the skin is. I've had stings where the site swells and itches for several days and others where you can't see anything once the sting has been removed. I've had multiple stings in the face that caused so much swelling that I couldn't see for a couple of days, and I now ensure my head at least is beeproof, because that is just not pleasant. Also ankles seem to be quite sensitive areas

I personally would not worry unless I felt a reaction somewhere other than the site of the sting..... particularly mouth, throat and chest. I do also feel that being calm and relaxed and breathing slow and regularly after a sting is helpful.

I recently got stung on the elbow, through my suit, by a wasp, whilst relocating a nest from a combine harvester cabin for my local farmer. It was much more painful than any bee sting I've ever had and hurt for 3 days and itched for another 3. Maybe that is because I'm unused to wasp stings though.
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I first started keeping my hTBH's, "shorts and a T-shirt and bare hands" actually worked quite well. As I recall, I got stung once. But then, I realized that what I needed was pockets. Lots of 'em. So I got a suit that's basically a painter's set of coveralls. Then, I wished for a set of gloves that would improve my grip (and, as I thought, help to isolate the colony from whatever "strange microbes" I might un-knowingly be carrying upon my own skin). Hence, the gloves. Same old cheapest-I-could-find veil, same old straw hat. (No apologies here ... my face is off limits!!")

"On the one hand, honeybees are: 'stinging insects.'" Hey, that's what they do. That's what they are designed to do. But, on the other hand, you are also "designed" to find the experience of a honeybee-sting to be decidedly unpleasant. Smile

In my experience, "stings are actually comparatively-rare" (at least with hTBH hives ...), such that, if for whatever reason they are not, it ought to be taken as a warning-sign. "What is so-suddenly different now?"

I take "prudent, but not extraordinary," precautions to avoid an encounter that "I find to be decidedly unpleasant." These prudent precautions allow me to focus upon the task at hand. I'm not the slightest bit "macho" about it. "Beestings hurt, dammit!!" and I don't like them. Smile
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Opened our hives today for the first time since autumn. Got one "bee kiss" as Bernard would say on the back of the arm/wrist. Only a small red bump now but if I get stung on the back of the hand or under the wrist it swells and is itchy for days. I agree with Barbara that the site of the sting and how quick you remove it is a major factor.

cheers
Rob.
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't been stung whilst wearing my suit (in this my first year) but have had one whilst viewing unsuited (an unintentional trip and arm wave)
My instantaneous reaction was one of panic - at the forefront of my mind was the stinging impulse to the rest of the hive released by that first sting !
I slowed down once I'd got a good 50m away and quietly recovered my dignity.

So - what's the reality ? Obviously there isn't complete havoc as you bare handed types would receive 1000's of stings, not just 2 or 10.
Another time, after an 'ad-hoc' sting at the hive, should I be able to stoically stand still and the other bees continue their business without being triggered into mass defence ?

Thanks
Mal
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mal wrote:

So - what's the reality ? Obviously there isn't complete havoc as you bare handed types would receive 1000's of stings, not just 2 or 10.
Another time, after an 'ad-hoc' sting at the hive, should I be able to stoically stand still and the other bees continue their business without being triggered into mass defence ?

Thanks
Mal


Depends on the mood of the bees I guess,.. and how the beekeeper reacts.. I don't mind the single stings but mass stinging by 8-10 bees hurts , it's usually round my (hairy) wrists,, and getting the stings out may be delayed if in the middle of holding a comb.

I've seen mass attacks from a very angry colony which were always aggressive and were queenless. At that point I wear marigolds and vinyl on top - virtually impregnable.
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your natural instincts upon being stung might be either to flail and swat at the bees (not good ...) or to run away. Grab that bottle of peppermint-water, set everything else down, and go ahead and run. (Tell yourself to run, not to swat.) After a few yards, you'll regain your composure and you can go back to work. Remove the stinger and spray the peppermint water directly on it to disrupt the alarm-pheromones. It's okay. Nobody's looking. It happens.

You just gotta "dress appropriately" so that the thought of being stung is really not foremost on your mind. The outfit I described lets me work confidently, keeps sweat away, and gives me a sure grip. Yes, I've been stung, but I get stung a lot more often by ground-nesting wasps and "those Twisted Evil -ed hornets!!" than by honeybees. (Bee-suits come in very handy around these parts at this time of year ...)
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