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Poll
Question: What is the best way to remove a bee sting?
To get it out FAST any way you can - 5 (17.9%)
To scrape it out quickly - 18 (64.3%)
To take the time to carefully scrape it out - 4 (14.3%)
Other - 1 (3.6%)
Total Voters: 28


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Author Topic: Sting removal priorities  (Read 2347 times)
megs_westaus
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« on: December 30, 2012, 02:51:47 AM »

Hi beekeepers,

I'm trying to work out what is REALLY the best way to remove a bee sting. As you all know, the two most common methods to reduce the reaction to a bee sting are 1) to scrape the sting out, so that additional venom isn't squeezed out of the venom sack by a pinching action and 2) to remove the sting ASAP to reduce the time that venom is being pumped out of the sack into the person.

These two methods are somewhat incompatible: Scraping a sting out will, in virtually all circumstances, take more time than would removing it by another method (such as pinching the sting if it's visible or vigorously rubbing the general area of the sting if it is harder to locate). It's therefore a good idea to establish which factor is most important so that the best compromise can be reached and reactions are limited.

I have had a look through the scientific and popular literature to try to determine what the best method is, but in addition wanted to find our the opinion of beeks who have plenty of personal experience to draw on. So let us know which method you think is the important one, or if both are important, or if you think something else is important, and then post to explain the reasons behind your answer.



My answer:
Well, I haven't been a beek for that long but I have been stung countless times, being an Aussie barefoot bogan, including plenty of times on the hands as I hate wearing gloves while working with my hands, and a few to the face. As a kid I thought stings need to be scraped out and though I never had bad reactions, beestings were certainly unpleasant. Once I started beekeeping I heard from another beek that timing was the number one most important thing and WOW - since learning that I usually have no reaction beyond the initial sting itself, unless I'm unable to get the sting out immediately because my hands are full. So I definitely think that TIMING is the only factor that should be considered and wasting even half a second scraping out the sting is only going to make things worse.

In addition to that is the only published experiment comparing the two methods that I have found by Visscher, Vetter and Camazine who found that timing made a difference and method didn't - though they only used themselves as test subjects so between their experiences and my own it's not enough for me to conclude that everybody else in the world will react the same way. (as a newbee I can't post a link to the study, but if you go to google scholar and search for "bee sting removal" it's the first hit, and a pdf is freely available to all)

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JackM
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 10:14:39 AM »

It only makes sense to grt the sting out asap to decrease how much venom is injected
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little john
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 11:35:43 AM »

[...] the two most common methods to reduce the reaction to a bee sting are 1) to scrape the sting out, so that additional venom isn't squeezed out of the venom sack by a pinching action and 2) to remove the sting ASAP to reduce the time that venom is being pumped out of the sack into the person.

These two methods are somewhat incompatible: [...]

Respectfully disagree - they can be one and the same. I always (well ... nearly always) carry a blunt table knife with me when working with bees. Pick up the knife, a quick wipe over the sting, and 'tis done - what could be quicker or easier ?
The only slight delay might be in putting something down first, if my hands were full - but that's all. A second or two at most.

Then retire a safe distance and dab the sting area with Olbas Oil to mask any alarm pheromone.

But - using a sharp knife is a definite no-no - as it's possible to cut the stinger in half, leaving the barb still in the skin. You may be wondering how I found this out ...

I once tried using a solder-sucker to remove the poison already injected - didn't make a blind bit of difference. Still had the obligatory swelling and 2 days of itching.

LJ
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marktrl
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 12:26:49 PM »

I just use my hive tool to scrape it since it's usually in my hand.
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edward
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 12:33:04 PM »

Brush them with my hand or glove fast and swift

mvh edward  tongue
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megs_westaus
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 07:55:22 PM »

Respectfully disagree - they can be one and the same. I always (well ... nearly always) carry a blunt table knife with me when working with bees. Pick up the knife, a quick wipe over the sting, and 'tis done - what could be quicker or easier ?

That's a good idea. I'm sure it would take a fraction of a second longer than just smashing your hand onto the site and rubbing the sting out, but it would be fairly close so could be worth it if scraping the sting out does make a difference. But there are still circumstances where it would take longer to scrape out the sting - such as if a bee got inside your suit, or if you were stung incidentally when not actually tending a hive, and thus didn't have a blunt knife handy.
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kathyp
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 10:35:48 PM »

1st, cuss.  the more colorful and the longer the string, the better.  2nd, hop up and down.  1 & 2 can be done together.  3.  strip any piece of clothing that has trapped the bee against your skin.  yes, the damage is done, but you'll get a psychological boost if you  strip and slap the dying bee.  sometimes you can do all 3 at the same time, but use care if you are removing pants, hopping up and down, and cussing.  very often you end up in a heap on the ground and risk further damage, not to mention humiliation. 

if you find that you are in an area with many bees flying around, do 1 & 2 as you are running for your life....before you do 3.  stripping and exposing more skin to angry bees if not advisable.

oh, removing the stinger...whatever...who cares by now??  if you did a good enough job with the slapping, you'll have to wait for the thing to fester out anyway.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
little john
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2012, 11:45:27 AM »

1st, cuss.  the more colorful and the longer the string, the better.  2nd, hop up and down.  1 & 2 can be done together.  3.  strip any piece of clothing that has trapped the bee against your skin.  yes, the damage is done, but you'll get a psychological boost if you  strip and slap the dying bee.  sometimes you can do all 3 at the same time, but use care if you are removing pants, hopping up and down, and cussing.  very often you end up in a heap on the ground and risk further damage, not to mention humiliation. 

if you find that you are in an area with many bees flying around, do 1 & 2 as you are running for your life....before you do 3.  stripping and exposing more skin to angry bees if not advisable.

oh, removing the stinger...whatever...who cares by now??  if you did a good enough job with the slapping, you'll have to wait for the thing to fester out anyway.

Oh Happy New Year, Kathy - that's just what I needed ... still wiping away the tears ...

LJ
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bud1
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 11:49:13 AM »

kathy do you really think i should take off more clothes; i want a demo this coming april. sho hope to see you and chris then
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kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2012, 12:08:20 PM »

Quote
kathy do you really think i should take off more clothes

you can take off all the clothes you want!   Wink  you get a bee up my jeans and you'll see that post above come to life.   evil

Quote
Oh Happy New Year, Kathy - that's just what I needed ... still wiping away the tears ...

happy new year to you also!   grin
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Joe D
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2012, 01:15:33 PM »

If your out and a bee just happens to sting you then scrape it.  If you are out messing with bees and one sting you, I would scrape it after I'm done.  When one stings and you have them mad, all her buddies will come to help her out, and close to the same place if they can.  That's just my opinion.




Joe
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2012, 01:40:44 PM »

Quote
Kathy do you really think i should take off more clothes

you can take off all the clothes you want!   Wink  you get a bee up my jeans and you'll see that post above come to life.   evil
[/quote]
Kathy,
Been there, done that.
My first year beekeeping, I was at the farm. Had one go all the way up to my privates. Off the pants came. Luckily there was only  family there, my daughter and grand daughters. They thought it was hilarious.
Now a days I just ignore them and don't get stung unless I smash them.
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megs_westaus
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« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2013, 05:48:19 AM »

Save the need for removing pants by inspecting your hives while wearing a skirt! Worked for me, though I'm sure the dance I did when a bee stung me on the upper thigh while I had my hands full - trying to remove the stinger with my foot without dropping the frame I was holding - was almost as amusing to the family members watching
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lazy shooter
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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2013, 10:14:17 AM »

I actually had a bee fly up my pant leg once.  I stepped back and slowly lowered my pants and the sweet bee girl just flew away.  It was not during an inspection and the bees weren't upset.  There were no witnesses, and that's a good thing, because at 73 years of age my body is so bad that I shower in the dark.

Most of Texas is inundated with fire ants.  They supposedly are also Hymenoptera just like our honey bees, but they can and will sting repeatedly.  If one inadvertently stands near a mound of fire ants, many of them will crawl up your pants and when the first one stings, all of them start to sting.  According to my entomologist son, it's a pheromone thing.  I'm a petroleum engineer and don't comprehend life science. 

A few years back I had an engineer trainee with me to map a oil and gas location.  While walking around in the weeds the young gal got a load of fire ants up her cover-alls.  She shed the cover-alls and handed them to me to shake the ants off of them.  She then did a dance behind the car to remove them from her lower body.  Years later we still laugh about it.  Fire ants will remove one's modestly in a flash. 

As a side bar, fire ants can cause anaphylactic shock just like our honey bees.
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kathyp
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« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2013, 11:13:17 AM »

i became acquainted with fire ants in LA this year.  those little suckers can move fast. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
NasalSponge
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2013, 05:39:08 PM »

I post this with a bit of trepidation since I can not find the article, but I seem to recall reading in either BC or ABJ that squeezing the poison sack does not inject more venom as they found that there is a valve of sorts between the sack and the stinger. Anyone else remember reading this or am I getting senile? In any case I just scrape them out with my finger nail.
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megs_westaus
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« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2013, 05:37:14 AM »

I post this with a bit of trepidation since I can not find the article, but I seem to recall reading in either BC or ABJ that squeezing the poison sack does not inject more venom as they found that there is a valve of sorts between the sack and the stinger. Anyone else remember reading this or am I getting senile? In any case I just scrape them out with my finger nail.

The article by Visscher, Vetter and Camazine mentions that their examination of bees' sting apparatus led them to doubt there are benefits to scraping out the sting (they also describe the structure and function of the sting apparatus but their description on its own doesn't really allow a layperson to make the same conclusion one way or the other)


Given most people believe it should be scraped out, I'd like to hear from some of you about why you hold that belief. Is it something you've always done because you grew up with that information and it's how you've always done it, or have you tried various methods of removing stings on yourself and found scraping them out to cause the least reaction? Or you've been provided with other sound evidence that suggests it is important (and if so what is that evidence)
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2013, 08:59:23 AM »

I agree that the most important thing is to get it out quickly, but I can get it out as quickly if not more quickly by scraping it with my fingernail AND I don't squeeze the venom sac.

There is no reason scraping should take longer unless you chew your fingernails...
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megs_westaus
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2013, 07:15:16 PM »

There is no reason scraping should take longer unless you chew your fingernails...

How about if:
- You do chew your fingernails, or just like to cut them short so that they don't break whenever you do anything hands-on.
- Your hands are currently full
- You're wearing gloves
- The sting is somewhere on your body with a low density of sensory nerves and where you can't see it, so you can't locate it precisely enough to scrape it out
- The sting is in an awkward spot such as under your foot or back of the leg, requiring you to hop around spastically trying to get a fingernail to it
- The sting is from a bee that has gotten inside your clothing
- The sting is from a bee that flew into your ear and got trapped behind your tragus (it happens, trust me) OR
- You're a member of the public who has heard from a beek that a sting should be scraped out, but you think it needs to be done more carefully than the beek meant, causing you to rush around looking for a suitable scraping implement.

My curiosity about all this came from somebody showing me a photo of their face massively swollen by a bee sting, who said "I know you need to get the sting out really quickly so I ran inside but couldn't find my wallet so couldn't scrape it out with a credit card, so ran into the kitchen to find a knife, then ran into the bathroom to use the mirror to scrape it out as quickly as possible". If it had been slightly worse she would have been struggling to breathe, and all because she had received the advice that a bee sting needed to be "scraped out quickly", so without any evidence that scraping it out has benefits, I am skeptical about the sensibility of telling people to scrape it out at all.

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edward
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2013, 01:39:02 AM »

That's why I brush them of with my hand  Wink

mvh edward  tongue
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