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Author Topic: Can you develope immunity to bee venom?  (Read 1371 times)
Carol
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« on: July 28, 2013, 04:41:48 PM »

I was stung twice day before yesterday. Once on my finger (thin rubber gloves). Finger swelled. Once on my forearm thru my jacket sleeve. By night time my arm was quite swollen. Still swollen yesterday but starting to go down and not itching much at all. Last time it was more than 3 days before my arm went down. I think I get a good dose when I get stung because I am usually holding a frame etc and just continue doing what I was doing.  Since the reaction didn't last as long I am hopeing I'm developing an immunity.
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zzzzzzzzpr
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2013, 05:18:43 PM »

I get stung all the time. sometimes its like a bug bite other times it hurts. part of keeping bees.
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millipede
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2013, 05:21:28 PM »

I have heard old timers say if you get stung about 100 times a year then you develop immunity. I am not really willing to test that myself. Though I have been stung quite a bit lately from my new hive.
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Carol
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2013, 05:51:35 PM »

100 huh....guess I have a few more to go...supposed to be good for arthritis etc. With my back and all the bumps and bangs and half frozen feet and hands. ( raced horses for years)...I was hopeing for a side benefit from my hive.
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hiram.ga.bee.man
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2013, 08:10:38 PM »

Yes. I used to swell up terribly, but don't swell up anymore at all. My son had to take allergy shots for different types of stinging insects for two and half years, as it turns out they were injecting him with different types of stinging insect venom so his immune system would acclimate to it.  The routine injections caused his reactions to them to be greatly reduced. No more emergency room visits for anaphylaxis shock, ya!
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edward
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2013, 08:30:50 PM »

Yes you may beecome more tolerant and acclimatized to beestings

BUT you may also beecome allergic and have an anafalactic chock, 1sting or 1008 stings, know one knows.

It can also depend on how your Health is, or if you take some types of medicine.

mvh Edward  tongue
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2013, 09:02:02 PM »

I used to swell and itch. Now,98 times out of 100' I don't swell up or itch at all. They still can hurt a lot but after 5 minutes it is hard to tell where I got stung. Use Benadryl and hydrocortisone together to reduce swelling and itching. They help your body to get used to not reacting to the stings.
Jim
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10framer
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2013, 09:32:15 PM »

Yes you may beecome more tolerant and acclimatized to beestings

BUT you may also beecome allergic and have an anafalactic chock, 1sting or 1008 stings, know one knows.

It can also depend on how your Health is, or if you take some types of medicine.

mvh Edward  tongue


^^^^^pretty much.  i react a little more the first few stings of the season and then it goes away.
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GSF
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2013, 08:47:05 AM »

In some of my bee keeping readings/youtube'n I read that some bee keepers have got used to being stung and it don't bother them any more.

I was thinking - what a goal I have, to get stung so many times I don't even notice it. tumbleweed
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Carol
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2013, 09:44:46 AM »

Edward..... health seems pretty good for my age...(definately on the other side of the hill) but I take no medication other than 1 baby aspirin a day.
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10framer
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2013, 10:22:44 AM »

In some of my bee keeping readings/youtube'n I read that some bee keepers have got used to being stung and it don't bother them any more.

I was thinking - what a goal I have, to get stung so many times I don't even notice it. tumbleweed

i think it all depends on where the sting is.  if i get hit in the calluses on my fingers and hands i may not notice but if i get hit under the fingernail if feels like i touched the sun. soft spots are pretty sensitive too.
i think it's a mental thing.  if i'm going through hives i expect to get stung so it isn't a big deal.
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Carol
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2013, 10:33:50 AM »

It's funny....I got stung twice and my husband didn't even know  it..I just kept on working.....but he had heavy gloves on and used one hand to brush a few bees off the hive when I was setting a frame in place. I think they got tangled in the fibers of his glove but he went into panic mode ..he thought they were all trying to sting him and chucked the glove. I guess one got him but he doesn't swell or anything.  bee bee
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sc-bee
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2013, 11:51:48 AM »

My swelling reduces as the season goes on. It also does depend on where the sting is for me. Hands and arms not much swelling. I took a few in the calves a few weeks back and it was the worse swelling I have had in several years. And as far as severity of pain from sting, I think what they are working at the time has something to do with it. This year the stings seem to hurt a lot more.

And as Edward said above- regardless of how you have reacted from stings in the past- you could just be one sting away. A few years back I knew of a beekeeper of 30 yrs who took a sing under his veil and woke up in the hospital. Doctor said lose the bees or take a round of the shots to build resistance. You would think after 30 yrs plenty resistance. 
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2013, 02:47:17 PM »

Every sting is unique.  Some are worse for reasons you can discern and some are just worse for no reason you can discern.  Over time, all in all, I would say they tend to get worse for a while and then get better.  I agree as the season goes on, mine tend to get less and less reaction.  But then I usually don't have much anymore, most of the time.  Still once in a while something will swell up a lot for a long time.  But usually I can't find the sting site ten minutes later.
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edward
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2013, 06:33:19 PM »

health seems pretty good

More along the lines of a Cold, a lot of stress or other ailments that are negative towards general Health.

makes the stings worse.


mvh Edward  tongue
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L Daxon
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« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2013, 07:24:02 PM »

I agree with Michael B. 
All stings are different. Sometimes they get a really good hit on you and sometimes it is more of a glancing blow. Sometimes you get the stinger out quickly and sometimes you don't and more venom pumps in.  I have virtually no reaction when stung on my hands any more (I work gloveless) but have had my hand swell up like a baseball glove years ago.
I think in general, over time, your body desensitizes to the venom, at least most peoples does.
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linda d
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« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2013, 10:58:27 PM »

I agree with you Linda. All stings are different. The body reacts differently depending on how many times you have been stung in that area. My son is always in pain and we started doing apiarytherapy. The first couple of stings on his back helped a lot but he would get big welts and they itched for days. Now they do not swell up or itch when they are on his back. We did it on his thigh and his foot swelled up like a balloon for a week. We have stayed away from his legs due to a possible repeat. He just wants them on his back because that is where most of the pain is from and he has no reactions other than the initial pain and that is where they do the most good.
Jim
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timdalyiii
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« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2013, 08:16:45 PM »

I tend to only get stung a few times a year with not much reaction besides some swelling. The last time I was stung, I was stung twice. My blood pressure dropped and I past out as I reached the house. The medics couldn't find a blood pressure so away we went. The ER doc said it was dehydration and heat exhaustion. I have to think the stings had something to do with it since it happened within 30 seconds of the stings. Very strange.
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JWChesnut
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« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2013, 09:38:36 PM »

I have been keeping bees for nearly 40 years (1975). This spring I was stung on the neck and developed an allergic reaction.  An allergists scratch test shows a strong reaction to their most dilute test venom.  They recommend a desensitization treatment (controlled and very dilute challenge injections over several years of regular doctor visits).

I have been stung twice since the systemic reaction (on arms and waist) without showing much reaction (other than a modicum of worry).

In general, allergic reactions build over time.  Swelling is very dependent on location (skin on the face stretches more than the palms, etc).  A reaction of itching or hives **away** from the site of the sting indicates a systemic response, and should be considered a warning.

If you have had any reaction,  always **carry** Benadryl. If you have had  a strong reaction, obtain a prescription for an Epi-Pen and learn to use it.  Always use a buddy system when working your hives, at the very least let someone know when you are working the colonies. carry an emergency phone and make sure your outyard has reception.  Because some random stranger could be attacked by your bees, it is worthwhile to always have Benadryl available.

A allergist vet I discussed my situation was discouraging on Benadryl, as he said this requires time to build in the body (48 hours), however downing a bottle of Childrens liquid benadryl has stopped systemic itching for me. 
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JackM
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« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2013, 07:43:55 AM »

There are some incorrect perceptions going on in this thread.  Each sting is unique because of two variables...1) length of time stinger is in and at what depth.  2) Proximity of sting to capillary and nerve.

Allergies build.  For some folk it can take only one event and after that they are deathly allergic to an allergen.  This holds true whether it is a sting or peanut allergy. 

The body gets exposed to something it doesn't like.  It makes special cells to attack and kill that 'toxin' and in that process the cells die and release histamines.  If enough get released in a short time span, you get an anaphalyctic reaction which lowers blood pressure and decreases lung capacity via closure of the airways due to swelling.

This is greatly simplified folks, I don't even remember all the correct terms, I was a paramedic, not a doctor.   

Anyhow, epipens break the cycle for a short period of time and opens airways and increases blood pressure.  Antihistamines as the name suggests works on the histamines that have been released. 

Allergy shots 'desensitize' a person to the allergen by giving minute doses increasing over years of shots, until the body says 'I am used to this stuff now, not a bother in a small dose' (2 or 3 stings).  There is great risk with allergy shots and stings, they do not do this lightly as the risk is there with every shot to go into shock.

So for those that are fortunate and are not allergic, a few stings brings back the response where the body says, 'Hey, no issue, we are used to this, don't bother with it and save on the histamine release'
Whereas, those with a true allergy will see increasing signs with each sting of a similar time stinger is in at X depth.
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2013, 12:13:24 PM »

Nice clear explanation, Jack
Thanks.
Jim
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trimman
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« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2013, 09:43:58 PM »

i don't know about immunity but i sting my wrist and knuckles all the time for arthritis and i never swell but like they say some times it feels like more venom than others hurts a little but still no swelling lucky i guess
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scubajohn
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« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2013, 10:42:43 PM »

I have heard old timers say if you get stung about 100 times a year then you develop immunity. I am not really willing to test that myself. Though I have been stung quite a bit lately from my new hive.


Well I should be there soon started doing cut outs and a mean hive can do about twenty if not carful
BTW I am new to the forum
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Finski
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« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2013, 12:59:21 AM »

.
I have very good immunity. I stand very well 20 stings per day-
My next door beekeeper 600 metres away cannot stand 2 stings.
When he gets one sting, he must look, if he must drive to hospital.

I think that it depends on person. There is no rule how it goes. Everyone will see it.
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