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Author Topic: How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?  (Read 3190 times)

Offline Apis629

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How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?
« on: September 14, 2005, 06:54:24 PM »
I can't tell if my colony is becoming more aggressive or I'm just being swept by passion and lured away from causiousness.  In the past week I've been stung three times next to the same colony.  The first time was durring an inspection on the cuticle of my thumb, the second was in the palm of my right hand at about 6:00 am as I looked at my bees before I went to school and the third happened just now on my right cheek bone.  I can't tell if I'm building up an immunity from this or not.  I just remember that on my thumb, it felt like a nail had been driven into it but, on my cheek just now, it felt like a small thorn...it hurt but, it wasn't burning and it didn't really hurt that much.  The only reason I'm asking this is that to build up an immunity in just a week or so seems a little to fast but, I was just currious how fast anyone else began to build up an immunity to the venom.

manowar422

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How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2005, 07:47:16 PM »
Nathan,

My bees have been really easy to work this spring and summer.
Only one sting (my fault) on the finger when I wasn't watching
where I put my hand.

As of last month, they have been more aggressive about defending
their honey stores. One sting on the wrist during inspection in late
August, one on the finger a week later, and two on the arm last week.
I had to finally buy a smoker :shock:
Now I put on that full suit along with the veil & gloves
before opening up for anything. Afterwards, one or two still buzz me
until I'm well away from the hive.

As far as my reaction to venom goes, I've not suffered near as much
to the latest ones I've received. My first swelled a lot and was quite
painful. The site was easy to spot for many days afterward.

I have quickly healed from the latest ones, hardly any swelling,
three days after, pretty much gone. I'd say that's a developed
immunity in about a month :wink:

I also think alot depends on where you get the insult, fingers are said
to have lots of nerve endings, besides they're harder to scratch real
good compared to an arm :lol:

Online Michael Bush

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How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2005, 07:51:36 PM »
Usually once I've had a bad swelling sting the rest for the season don't hurt that much and don't swell at all.
Michael Bush
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My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Offline Apis629

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How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2005, 08:08:21 PM »
Okay, I was just currious because my first sting, about two weeks ago, there was alot of swelling and it hurt for a few days...now, when I just got stung on the cheek it didn't realy hurt after five minutes.

Online Michael Bush

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How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2005, 09:25:20 PM »
They also vary by location and by how long the stinger is in and by how well it's planted and probably by how much venom that bee happens to have and how old it is.  But my first bad one of this year my ankle swelled like I sprained it and I couldn't walk on it for a day.  All of them since haven't hurt more than a minute or so.
Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Offline beemaster

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How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2005, 09:26:56 PM »
I think the answer is VERY different from person to person. Luckily, honeybee vemon is relatively weak compared to yellow-jackets, which are said to be (ounce for ounce) right up there with rattle snakes.

Personally, I never had much more than minor swelling and itching with honebee stings. It was only when I dropped a super filled with brood, did I find out my own tolerance levels for honeybee stings - when well over 150 stings caused me to feel anaphalaxis effects and luckily had a bee sting kit with me.

I also did 2 full seasons of bee-sting therapy on my neck - stinging myself 20-30 times daily around the back of my neck. I would sting myself once or twice on opposite sides of my neck and then fill in the middle with the rest of the stings. 30 stings honestly didn't hurt much more than 2 or 3 in a given area.

Hope that helped, but my thoughts are that it is HELPFUL and even life-saving for a beekeeper to know their own tolerance to venom and I believe ideally it couldn't hurt to try and build a tolerance by perposely receiving an occasional sting or two in NON-SENSITIVE places. I believe in that because even with the best of protection, bees can find their way into your hood or suit and when they do, you will get stung.

I'm not suggesting that anyone does anything without the shared knowledge of their doctor. Explaining that you are a beekeeper and explaining your concerns USUALLY will lead to injections, testing and blood work, all are perfectly fine - but if you have already been stung several times and only get NORMAL reaction 1) swelling 2) itchiness 3) redness or mild rash, then chances are you are already well into understanding your own tolerance.

What you choose to do to increase your tolerance should be well thought out and again done with a doctor's knowledge. Best wishes :) and being a smart beekeeper is always better than being a dead beekeeper.
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Offline Apis629

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How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2005, 10:07:05 PM »
Ok.  As for honeybee venom not being as strong as a yellow-jacket's, I had no idea.  Anyways, thanks for all the replies and maybe, just maybe, the gloves will come off on my next inspection.

Offline bill

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How long does it take to build up an immunity to bee stings?
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2005, 12:49:46 AM »
I started out my beekeeping by picking up a hive that the bottom had rotted out of, when I had no protective clothing or a smoker. I got a whole lot of stings. at l;east in the hundreds, I was also running and swatting a lot. I have been stung by at least 30 or forty yellow jackets at one time, My wife was at work with the car. I called her to come get me as I thought surely I would have a reaction to that many, but by the time she got there I was ok. I got my worst reaction when I got my jacket and veil but used gloves that they could sting through, the back of my hands swelled and itched for a day or so. but I guess I am as close to being immune to stings as you get, I also periodicly get stung from standing in ant beds, the yellow jackets or the ants either one hurt alot more than bees. before I started beekeeping I had several joints that were a bit arthritic that have actually stopped ever hurting anymore so I think they do help arthritus but I still never would get stung intentionally, I get enough without even trying. I never got bit by a rattlesnake yet, but I always tell the kids if one bit me he would probably crawl off and die.
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