Sting Reactions

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Countryboy
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Sting Reactions

Unread post by Countryboy » September 11th, 2016, 9:10 pm

I've been keeping bees for about 10 years. I'd guess that I get stung maybe 100-200 times a year. (I don't count. It might be more, and it might be less. But I am no stranger to stings.) I have virtually no physical reaction to stings. Usually I scrape the stinger out, and it doesn't leave a mark. Sometimes I may have a welt for 5 minutes. A really bad sting leaves a blood mark under the skin, and I have a pus blister the next morning.

This evening (at dusk) I was getting in a nuc to fill a portable observation hive to get ready for a show. I pinched a bee when I was handling a frame, and got stung on the ball of my ring finger. As I was scraping the stinger out, another bee came up and stung me on the back of my hand.

Within minutes, the ball of my finger had swelled up. The whole end of my finger swelled up so tight it feels numb. The sting on the back of my hand turned into a lump the size of a silver dollar.

Usually I have to get several stings in an area before I get any puffiness or swelling of any kind. It's been years since I had any swelling from one sting.

Do some hives have more venom than other hives?

My bees are mutts. For about the past 5 years, I have just been breeding a few queens every year from my best overwintered hives. Most of my queens are Italian looking, and occasionally I get a Cordovan. However, even though the queens look Italian, I do find a fair amount of black drones. Every great once in a while, (every year or two) I end up with a black queen.

The queen in the nuc tonight was a black queen. That's very rare in my operation. I got 2 stings from that nuc, both stings produced swelling that is very unusual for me. So that made me wonder if there is some kind of a connection between the two, or if it is just coincidence.

I know some say that late winter stings are "hotter", possibly because there is more bacteria around the stinger, and possibly it just seems hotter since the beekeeper has lost some immunity over the winter and the first stings of the year often produce more reaction than normal.

So has anyone noticed if some hives tend to have worse stings than other hives? I'm not talking about how aggressive a hive is - I know some hives are more aggressive than others. This nuc had a normal level of aggression. But my physical reaction to the stings from that hive was more than what I typically experience when stung.
B. Farmer Honey
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Allen Dick
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Re: Sting Reactions

Unread post by Allen Dick » September 11th, 2016, 9:39 pm

Yes. There is no reason I can figure, but some stings are worse that way. What you ate or any medicines can have an effect, too, with anecdotal evidence that some NSAIDs can exacerbate stings or simulate allergy.

Increasing reactions in experienced beekeepers are worrisome, too and bear watching. In new beekeepers the first stings often have minor effect, but swelling gets worse for a while before immunity eventually develops after many stings.

Also, it is not wise to wear rings when working bees or around equipment. With bees, a sting can make it impossible to get the ring off, and besides, bees tend to sting around rings and watches.

On trucks, etc, a ring can catch on something and tear a finger badly -- or right off, especially if you jump or fall.
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Countryboy
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Re: Sting Reactions

Unread post by Countryboy » September 11th, 2016, 10:26 pm

I don't take any medications. I haven't eaten anything unusual. I don't wear rings, and I don't wear a watch when working bees. (Wearing a watch falls into the category of dressing up.)

I got stung yesterday...no reaction. I vaguely recall being stung earlier this afternoon...no reaction.

I know most folks probably can't understand it, but I don't worry about stings or anaphylactic reactions. I'm a bachelor and an introvert loner. 99.9% of the time I work bees, I am alone. I don't have a family or anyone depending on me. When it's my time to go, if it happens because of bee stings...well, then I went doing something I enjoyed. Until then, I'll just trust in God.
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Re: Sting Reactions

Unread post by Allen Dick » September 11th, 2016, 10:31 pm

Yeah. I never worried about stings. Just the same, if you start having unusual reactions, and it is a trend, please take care. People do die from bee stings, but it is usually not the beekeeper who gets stung regularly. It is the beekeeper's wife who washes his bee suit and never gets stung, but develops an allergy due to the dusts.
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