NZBF: Sting allergy or adaptation

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Opened up a hive over weekend to pack them down. It has plastic frames (which I'll only ever use for supers now) which had been well waxed and propolised in.
Lifted box edge, carefully levered but one of the frames dropped before I levered it .. resulting in a cloud of angry bees. Thank goodness I had suit .. but no gloves. I got stung on middle of finger.

To cut the story short .. finger swelled. Joint pain for two days. Back of hand swollen for three days. Finger still partially swollen after four days. Antihistamine cream not much help.

This response happened previous three times as well. Is this a normal response for newbies and do you acclimatise to the stings and stop swelling?

Its something I've not seen covered in courses etc and for newbies it might be helpful to hear from experienced geeks re their acclinitisation, lack there of or range of normal responses.

It's not going to stop me keeping, unless I suddenly become deadly allergic to the smell of honey. But knowing what's normal or if I need to be aware of a discovered allergy might be helpful.
 
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yesbut

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Dunno about the finger, but it's normal for bees to be tetchy this time of year. Flow over = gloves on. For me anyway. I get plenty of stings, some amount to nothing some itch for a day.
 
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Mummzie

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I think care needs to be taken in answering this- being a public conversation there is no knowing how an answer is mis-interpreted.

I react to stings differently - depends on the location of the sting, the time of the day, the season and what the girl had for breakfast.

The sting I got in my finger that I ignored made for considerable swelling, and there is still a dark mark where I eventually found the sting and poison sac. Fast removal of the sting is of great benefit.
 
245
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Christchurch
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I think care needs to be taken in answering this- being a public conversation there is no knowing how an answer is mis-interpreted.

I react to stings differently - depends on the location of the sting, the time of the day, the season and what the girl had for breakfast.

The sting I got in my finger that I ignored made for considerable swelling, and there is still a dark mark where I eventually found the sting and poison sac. Fast removal of the sting is of great benefit.
Thanks. That helps. The guy that taught me at the course didnt seem to react at all...was wondering if it's the body's adaptation. Eg I used to itch badly with sandflys but now hardly at all.
 

yesbut

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I use long cuff pvc chemical/oil resistant gloves....they're hot & sweaty, but very tough and more importantly easy to slip on & off as the immediate task requires. They're suit me , a 2 or 3 hive man .
 

Grant

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Is this a normal response for newbies and do you acclimatise to the stings and stop swelling?
This is a natural reaction to having poison pumped into your body.
My personal views on the reaction to this are three fold:
  • Your own body's reaction varies depending on your health at that point in time and your body's ability's to fight off the toxin.
  • The amount of poison that managed to get injected in - which is why we flick off the sting, away from the direction in went in
  • How old the bee is. I was convinced younger bees had less potent stings than older bee's from my own personal experience. I have no way to validate this claim though as I've not looked into it.
 

Dave Black

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@Grant 's three points are correct, and @frazzledfozzle .
Most beginners take two or three years to gain much tolerance, and some never do because they aren't getting enough stings regularly, so your PPE matters. Toxic or lethal doses for people not allergic come in at about 19 per kg of body weight. The maintenance dose once you have a good degree of tolerance is considered to be about 10 stings a year.
People like me argue that working without gloves teaches you how to avoid being stung, so you don't have to be so tolerant!
30 years on and I'll still put gloves on sometimes.
 
245
156
Christchurch
Experience
Beginner
@Grant 's three points are correct, and @frazzledfozzle .
Most beginners take two or three years to gain much tolerance, and some never do because they aren't getting enough stings regularly, so your PPE matters. Toxic or lethal doses for people not allergic come in at about 19 per kg of body weight. The maintenance dose once you have a good degree of tolerance is considered to be about 10 stings a year.
People like me argue that working without gloves teaches you how to avoid being stung, so you don't have to be so tolerant!
30 years on and I'll still put gloves on sometimes.
Hmmm.. to bee stung or not bee stung .. that's is the question.

I agree no gloves makes you careful and calmer. As a new beek I tried the no gear approach .. to learn that but was wisely told that it only takes one epic to be in deep trouble .. so gear in now. Times like this episode makes me glad I listened.

I think I'll persist with no glove for some jobs but maybe not stealing honey or in stuck down boxes.
 

Dave Black

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I think I'll persist with no glove for some jobs but maybe not stealing honey or in stuck down boxes.
Absolutely. No room for machismo. Learn to read your bees, learn when they focus on defense and when they're focused on work. Watch how they react to smoke, how they are monitoring entrances and gaps, pick up how different colonies are from each other, what effect the weather has. There are many subtleties to be aware of.
Always, always protect your eyes. If you don't like they way they behave put your gloves on before they sting you. Your job is to work with bees, not battle them.

And good things take time...
 

Dave Black

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... And you mentioned antihistamine cream. Topical creams don't work very well because they can't deliver a big enough dose. Skin is designed to keep topical things out.
Antihistamines can be very helpful, if you swallow them, and you need to try a range to work out the most effective. We are all born different.
 
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People like me argue that working without gloves teaches you how to avoid being stung, so you don't have to be so tolerant!
30 years on and I'll still put gloves on sometimes.
when i first started the bees where pretty unfriendly. gloves where pretty much mandatory.
these days its almost the opposite.
however i had enough oops to know how fast you can get into trouble. eg a slip with a box and now you have a very angry hive to deal with.
so i still wear all the gear, unless its something delicate then its just quicker to whip the gloves off and do the fiddly stuff.
one of the big advantages to gloves is its cleaner and i can grab onto boxes etc easier.

one of the hardest things to learn with bees is keeping your focus and do whats needed when things go pear shaped.
hive turns nasty and they find a way into your veil. tho its funny as to watch someone running down the paddock screaming :LOL:
 

Dave Black

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so i still wear all the gear
If I wanted to be flippant I point out that as an employee you have to. 😉
But more than that, we have to realise as beekeepers we actually have a greater than normal risk of allergies and mishaps. Our mitigation has to be more careful, not less.
 

tommy dave

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Absolutely. No room for machismo. Learn to read your bees, learn when they focus on defense and when they're focused on work. Watch how they react to smoke, how they are monitoring entrances and gaps, pick up how different colonies are from each other, what effect the weather has. There are many subtleties to be aware of.
Always, always protect your eyes. If you don't like they way they behave put your gloves on before they sting you. Your job is to work with bees, not battle them.

And good things take time...
i was one of those beginners with a small weak hive thinking i didn't need to use a smoker or wear a veil etc. A couple of older beekeepers laughed at me and said something along the lines of "you'll learn. In the meantime, at least wear sunglasses, you're a long time blind"

i learned.
 

kaihoka

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Thanks. That helps. The guy that taught me at the course didnt seem to react at all...was wondering if it's the body's adaptation. Eg I used to itch badly with sandflys but now hardly at all.
If the bees are pissed off , ie in robbing season , they will drill the sting into you .
If you accidentally hurt one when you are lifting frames during a honey flow they do not seem to push the sting in so far .
 
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If I wanted to be flippant I point out that as an employee you have to. 😉
But more than that, we have to realise as beekeepers we actually have a greater than normal risk of allergies and mishaps. Our mitigation has to be more careful, not less.
now dad is retired, i'm the old fella that wears what he likes :p
but most of the young fellas at work wear a lot less these days.

i have seen some who don't wear any gear, but they really pay the price for that at times. its those times it can get dangerous.
i like to have one person on site with full kit on (tho thats usually me). if anything bad happens, every one else can walk away and let them deal with it.
 
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now dad is retired, i'm the old fella that wears what he likes :p
but most of the young fellas at work wear a lot less these days.

i have seen some who don't wear any gear, but they really pay the price for that at times. its those times it can get dangerous.
i like to have one person on site with full kit on (tho thats usually me). if anything bad happens, every one else can walk away and let them deal with it.
i was showing someone around a hive yesterday. i only had one beesuit in the truck so I gave them that and went in unprotected, not something i’d normally do. it was going well and i was feeling cocky until that one little 💩 of a guard bee decide to try and sting me up my nose and in my eyes. I had to walk away pretty fast and leave the newbee in charge until I pinched the guard bee and could go back.
 


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