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Author Topic: Question about bee sting reactions  (Read 823 times)
Ilovemoonlightsonata
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« on: January 08, 2014, 12:13:57 AM »

Hello,

I started raising bees about 6 years back with my dad.  One time, while working on the hives, the bees got into my bee jacket, and my veil.  I acted as calmly as I could, which consisted stripping off all my clothes, flailing my arms, screaming wildly, and running around naked for nearest the shower.  It was embarrassing, to say the least.  I was stung on my neck, among other places.  It was itchy, and a little swollen that night, but that was about it. 
The next year, I got stung on the side of my forehead.  My parents assured me that I would be fine; that the swelling would go down the next day.  I woke up the next morning, unable to open my left eye because that side of my face was so swollen.  After laughing hysterically, my parents suggested I try different things- ointment, ice, honey, aloe, etc.  Nothing helped; I looked like an overstuffed chipmunk.  After 5 days, I could finally open my eye again.  It took about a week for full recovery. 
The following year I got stung on my hand.  It started swelling up, and swelled up so badly, I could not use my hand at all for an entire week.  I kept it in a glove because it was so swollen, red, and itchy; I couldn’t move my fingers because they were so swollen.
During the years, I would also get stung by yellow jackets, or ground bees.  I would have a little bump that day, then it would go down, and I’d be fine.  Only with honeybee stings do I have this reaction. 
Some people have told me I should get an epi pen.  Others say swelling is normal; but I fear that if I am ever stung on the neck again, some serve swelling could be a big problem.  I have never gone into anaphylactic shock, but I fear that if I have a worse reaction to each sting, I might.  I’m not sure if that’s possible, or if this swelling is just my body building up “immunity” to honey bee stings…?  Again, I’m not asking for medical advise, I’m just wondering of your opinions, and experiences.

Thanks
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Joe D
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2014, 12:49:27 AM »

Sounds like your reaction is getting worse, I usually have one but the worst yet was eye shut for 3 days.  i would concider getting an epi pen just in case.  I saw a Doc, she gave me a prescription for some pills that she thought would work for me. It was 3 or 4 different pills, couldn't tell they did any good.  Good luck to you and your bees.  And welcome to the forum, Ilovemoonlightsonata.




Joe
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BlueBee
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2014, 04:54:43 AM »

I find Bald Faced hornet stings are the most painful, but I usually get more swelling from a honeybee for some reason.  I’ve found that the amount of swelling I get seems to be a function of local blood circulation.  Probably not a big revolution, buy maybe worth mentioning.  When I get stung in fatty tissue or in areas with lesser blood flow (ie shins), I don’t get much swelling at all; just some itching.  When I get stung in a muscle or areas of more blood flow, I usually get a modest amount of swelling for a day or two.  When I take a direct hit to a vein, sometimes I do get a little buzz.  I have gotten stung in the jugular before.  evil

Personally if I feared my reactions were getting bad, I would get an epi pen.  I think the peace of mind of having one might reduce your anxiety of a string and the physiological changes that anxiety brings (which I suspect make a reaction worse; but I’m not a doc). 
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GSF
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2014, 05:43:28 AM »

dido on the epi pen. Make sure you and your doc have a good conversation about the pen. My doc, and my son(paramedic) advised me not to use it unless I was at the point where I couldn't hardly breathe. Otherwise it could almost kill you if you use it.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2014, 06:41:29 AM »

Nobody knows what the next sting will be like, but none of yours sound systemic and that is what is life threatening.
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rwlaw
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2014, 10:55:53 AM »

 You never mentioned getting the stinger out, if you can flick it out in a couple seconds, the swelling is minimal. 
 Children's alergy syrup works good (benadryl is what I buy), a couple good slugs after you get stung keeps the swelling down.
 Micheal's right it don't sound like a systemic reaction, if you haven't one by now chances are you wont, but having had one when I was younger, get an epi pen and keep it with you, you've got just a few minutes after you feel your throat starting to swell up and going down to your knees.
 Allergies come and go, I practiced apitherapy on a bad knee all last summer and six stings every other day didn't even bother me and I've also had over 30 stings at one time after my buddy dropped one of his brood boxes and we were in shorts, both of us were screaming like little girls on that one!  grin
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Carol
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2014, 02:53:55 PM »

I had a sting over my eyebrow a few weeks ago...eye swelled shut...stung on a finger and hand swelled up...but not much itching. etc. For some reason I seem to swell but have not had any problems other than that. First few stings did itch alot but maybe I'm gettting past that.

I was watching the hive entrance for pollen when I got zapped over the eye...next day I noticed a few "robber" bees hanging around. Guess that is why they were so aggrivated.
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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2014, 03:28:37 PM »

your reactions sound like mine.  you can't get the epi pens without seeing the doc and you should see the doc.  because you don't know what will happen next, it wouldn't hurt for you to have epi pens, but be sure you know how and when to use them.

if you can afford it, you might want to ask for a referral to an allergist for some testing.
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2014, 04:56:57 PM »

I was stung on the nose a while back and my whole face swelled up. I looked like I had been punched in the face for about 4 days after that. Before that I was stung on the hand - in the fleshy bit by the thumb - only had a bit of itching for a few days, no swelling at all. So for me it depends on where I get stung that determens the extent of the reaction. My mom got a few bees in her pants and was stung on the top of her butt an her leg just above the knee and she had very little reaction to the stings.
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tjc1
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2014, 07:35:06 PM »

My first year beekeeping I got three stings within a week, and each sting caused greater swelling. The last, on the back of my hand, caused my arm to swell past the elbow - the doc gave me a three day course of prednisone for that one, which took care of it. I was afraid that with the increasing reactions, I might have to quit the bees. My doc gave me a prescription for an epiPen - I almost fainted when I went to pick it up - $200 for the box of two pens (the only way they come...). However, since then I've had a sting here or there with hardly any reaction - so go figure. The one thing that I do differently since is to take an adult dose (4 tsp) of liquid Benedryl as soon as I possibly can - so maybe that is what has helped. In retrospect, I probably could have skipped the epipen - from what I have heard/read, it is pretty unlikely to develop a true systemic allergy which is life-threatening (as opposed to bothersome, even if at an alarming level) if you don't already have it.
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Ilovemoonlightsonata
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2014, 10:09:08 AM »

Thank you for all of your replies!

"Nobody knows what the next sting will be like, but none of yours sound systemic and that is what is life threatening."
"from what I have heard/read, it is pretty unlikely to develop a true systemic allergy which is life-threatening (as opposed to bothersome, even if at an alarming level) if you don't already have it."
Yeah, that's what I was wondering.

"if you can flick it out in a couple seconds, the swelling is minimal."  I appreciate the advise.  Though, I made sure to do that immediately after every sting, and it didn't really help my situation. Sad

"I think the peace of mind of having one might reduce your anxiety of a string and the physiological changes that anxiety brings (which I suspect make a reaction worse; but I’m not a doc).  "
I agree.  I'll shake uncontrollably, stutter, and feel weak for quite a while after being stung; not from the pain, just from my fear of bees, which can't be helping situation.

"take an adult dose (4 tsp) of liquid Benedryl as soon as I possibly can "
I will remember that! 

"So for me it depends on where I get stung that determines the extent of the reaction."
Yeah, I believe that's definitely an important aspect for a lot people.  Though for me, it really doesn't matter where I get stung, it just seems to be getting worse each sting (such as, the neck my 1st sting, which had little effect, and my hand the last sting, which swelled up to the size of a balloon).

I'm thinking I will get an epi pen just to have on hand, if only for that psychological relief, since it seems unlikely that I will actually need to use it.
Again, thank you all for your responses!
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merince
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2014, 01:19:41 PM »

What you have sounds a lot like what I have - it is called a large local reaction and pretty typical if the only thing you get is the swelling and itching. Some places swell worse than others - the face is especially bad.

I always wear a full bee suit. In this way I can focus on the bees and not thinking about where is the next sting coming from. Also if you get stung, remove the stinger with your hive tool or a credit card in order to reduce the allergens in your system. Benadryl helps. Not getting stung in the first place helps even better.

If you need an EpiPen, learn how to use it - usually you need to go to a hospital pretty quickly after using it.
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jredburn
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2014, 07:24:56 PM »

I tend to have swelling if I get stung around the lips or the eyes but not much elsewhere.
I keep a tube of Benadryl Cream in the truck.  If I get really hit bad I take a couple of Benadry cold tablets. 
The stuff really helps.
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FlashGordon
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2014, 09:45:39 PM »

I just went through allergy testing and I am highly allergic to honey bees. That sucks because I just started keeping bees and I love it. I have been stung several times this past year and have had some mixed reactions.  I was stung first on the hand and no reaction at all.  Second time was the worst I was stung 3 times on the bicep and it swelled a bit  and the redness kept growing and would not stop itching. I went to the hospital and they referred me to a specialist.  The third time my( yes brave and stupid are very close cousins). I was stung on the hand and immediately took Benadryl  it did not swell until the next day. 
My test results showed a measure of 8.1 which apparently is very high. In order to be considered not allergic it is supposed to be under .35. My allergist put me on a rapid immunization schedule and assured me I would be fine by April. Needless to say I will always have an epipen and have the Benadryl on hand.



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