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In view of what I've read on John's (Planbee) thread, I need to ask a few questions. Firstly I've never had a sting where venom has been injected. Once I was jabbed in the back of the neck but I flinched and don't think it broke the skin. Will working with bees and not being stung build up a resistance or will it make it worse when I finally get stung? What happens when people get stung repeatedly over the years - do they build up a resistance or does it gradually get worse to a point where they can no longer work with bees? Is it an individual thing where there is no telling what will happen? Should I go and get stung deliberately to find out?
 
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I think you may as well wait and find out, I think some stings are worse than others and of course everyone reacts differently. I get quite a bad localised reaction and have been told by people with more medical knowledge than I have to take anti-histamines now when I get stung, as my localised reaction has slowly got worse, after 2 - 3 days the area is angry and red and inflammed. When I first got bees I expected (as have been told) that you will become immune to the sting, but that's not completely true. I think Planbees case is very sad and unfortunate, but also fairly rare. I also think with the weather being how it is, it wont be long before you find out...............:cheers2:

Frisbee
 

jimbeekeeper 

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Although Johns story is very sad, please put things in prospective that more people in the UK die from lightning stikes!

Yes as a beekeeper your exposire and risk potential has increased simmlar to the kite flyer that likes to fly a kite in a thunder storm.

But there are several mittigating steps your risk assment and method stament would include to reduce the risk.
 

FenBee 

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Hawklord, you will eventually be stung while working with bees, i.e. you will not see a bee and accidentally squeeze it and you are stung as the bee defends itself, etc. You will then find out how allergic you are to bee stings. Obviously, remove the sting asap and depending on where you are stung will have an affect on the reaction.

Most beekeepers I have spoken to and books I have read, say that in order to maintain a good level of immunity to stings they have one or two stings each year. But, I would not go out of my way to be stung, it happens from time to time anyway!

With regard to if the reaction becomes worse over the years is interesting. A doctor who works at Addenbrookes hospital told me that you should not use antihistamine on stings as this can, over time, make you more sensitive and lead to problems in the future, like severe reactions. His advise was, after removing the sting, was to either apply heat or cold, e.g. an ice pack. I have a pen I bought from Thorne's that heats up the sting site to 50degC, there are two buttons for either 3 or 6 seconds.
 

Rosti 

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Earlier this year I read "A book of Bees" by Sue Hubbell more of a 'life of a beekeeper" book than a manual, but within it she describes de-sensitising her assistants over several weeks to bee venom by administering more frequent stings with the sting left in for longer and longer. Can't see that it would help with Johns unfortunate extreme reaction, but for the luckier amongst us??? and having only been stung the once I don't really know which camp I am in yet - I do know that I am off to the Docs for an Epi-pen prescription just in case though (3 line whip from the wife when she read John's account!)
 

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Will working with bees and not being stung build up a resistance...
I was once told that beekeepers should wash their own bee suit/veil and not let their partners do it for fear of their partners developing an allergy by breathing in dried bee venom when handling the suite/veil. I suspect something similar could happen to a beekeeper who never gets stung... but then most beekeepers usually get stung every once in a while - don't they?
 

Poly Hive 

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I frankly cannot believe that a beekeeper can only have one or two stings a year.

No doubt I will be told that it is all too true but I find it extrememy hard to believe.

Each bee is an individual and I believe that the potency of the venom varies from bee to bee. I have been stung repeatedly in the same place and along comes another one and its damn sore in comparsion to the previous ones.

Each person has their own immune system and of course is an individual and so it follows that every one will react differently. My Julie is highly allergic for instance. I am thankfully so far not.

I would have thought it sensible to get stung before investing in bees and hives?

PH
 

jon 

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I average half a dozen stings per week, almost all of them on the fingers.
Most of them come from accidently pressing on a bee while lifting out a frame.
In my case it feels not much worse worse than a nettle sting.
Unless you have a life threatening reaction like John described in the other thread I think stings are something a beekeeper has to get used to. The key factor is making sure that you have head protection.
If you wear too much heavy gear, especially leather gloves, it makes for a clumsy beekeeper with poor handling skills.
 

peteinwilts 

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I would have thought it sensible to get stung before investing in bees and hives?

PH
did you?? If so was it in a field, a garden or in the safety of a hospital able to to deal with such issues if it were to occur? Trying such an 'experiment' anywhere but a specialist hospital would be foolhardy.

My little boy had a severe reaction the first time he ate egg and had to be airlifted to hospital. Food allergy's are common, but if you had the same approach about food you would be rubbing it into your skin before trying food for the first time.

Accidents happen, dangers are all around us. Did you test yourselves for weeverfish stings before going paddling in the sea??
Have you made sure you are not allergic to the countless toxins within plants before going outside? Did you test yourself for feather dust allergy before going round to a friend who has a pet canary?

This is a bad approach to any subject and could be applied to any subject.
 
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With regard to if the reaction becomes worse over the years is interesting. A doctor who works at Addenbrookes hospital told me that you should not use antihistamine on stings as this can, over time, make you more sensitive and lead to problems in the future, like severe reactions. His advise was, after removing the sting, was to either apply heat or cold, e.g. an ice pack. I have a pen I bought from Thorne's that heats up the sting site to 50degC, there are two buttons for either 3 or 6 seconds.
Do you think that both the doctors who advised me to take anti-histamines were wrong then?

Last year I got stung maybe once every time I went into the bees, sureley that is enough to become de-sensitized, but no, my reaction got worse, till eventually I ended up in the local minor injuries clinic, where I was advised to take anti-histamines. I ignored that advise because I didn't want to end up more sensitive as you suggest. A sting earlier this year left me with an angry red arm and a consultant friend told me I ought to take them every time I get stung now, so I do, and the reaction is much more tolerable now.

Frisbee
 

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Should I go and get stung deliberately to find out?
Hawklord stop worrying so much, a tiny percentage of people react the way John did/does.
I know I may get pilloried for this but here goes, I too am very allergic to bee/wasp stings, I have to carry epi-pens all the time, when I got stung about 20 years back and went in to anaphylactic shock I didn't know what it was, you itch so much, I laid on the floor outside and rubbed my bare feet on the house wall to try and stop the itching but it didn't work, your tongue swells and your throat swells and starts to close, you actually die from suffocation not the venom, the things to do when handling bees is to have 2 phones with you (different networks, just in case one has no coverage), two or more epi-pens, and preferably someone who is aware of the situation, if you are stung you will know something is wrong within 30-60 seconds if you are anaphylactic, call 999 and then inject yourself with all the epi-pens you have and try to keep calm, also before an inspection I take a couple of piriton, yes I was nervous the first few inspections I did, but I am OK with it now.
 
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Yes quite agree, don't worry too much. The risk of harm is statistically more likely while driving in a car to your bees rather than being stung by a bee.

Apparently there may be some benefits of being stung including protecting you from arthritis in old age
 

ribblesbees 

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Apparently there may be some benefits of being stung including protecting you from arthritis in old age

Apart from the few like John and Dr Nick and other people who react so badly to stings, for the rest of us is there any wrong that these bees can do. Propolis is (supposedly) full of wonderful properties, Honey is good for you (in moderation of course) wonderful for sore throats and, I've been told, slow healing sore/cuts etc, making mead, as well as being a joy to watch. :) We can make use of their wax in lighting and polish etc.

Oh I suppose there is the frustration and upset that inevitalby occurs when bees are kept. :(

bee-smillie
 

tonybloke 

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did you?? If so was it in a field, a garden or in the safety of a hospital able to to deal with such issues if it were to occur? Trying such an 'experiment' anywhere but a specialist hospital would be foolhardy.

My little boy had a severe reaction the first time he ate egg and had to be airlifted to hospital. Food allergy's are common, but if you had the same approach about food you would be rubbing it into your skin before trying food for the first time.

Accidents happen, dangers are all around us. Did you test yourselves for weeverfish stings before going paddling in the sea??
Have you made sure you are not allergic to the countless toxins within plants before going outside? Did you test yourself for feather dust allergy before going round to a friend who has a pet canary?
Don't folk attend both theory and practical courses before taking on bees? I did, (Easton college, Norfolk, under the guidance of Ian Watkinson and Paul Metcalf) and had been stung a few times before I got my own bees, therefore knew how I would react before purchasing my bees.
 

Poly Hive 

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did I get stung before I invested in my bees. Errr.......yes. Of course I did. I read widely for a winter before attending a beginners class and made sure I got stung.

I use leather gloves so that I suppose to some will explain why I get stung..LOL

I well remember how amused I was when seeing the "demonstrator who never wore gloves" drawing on leathers before opening the hives on the rape. :)

PH
 

Queen B 

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I'm one of those 'wimps' who wear leather gloves because I have no particular desire to get stung too often. I have, of course, been stung through the gloves, and once on my head (when not actually anywhere near the apiary). Our first bees came from someone who'd been stung once too often, eventually had a bad reaction, and therefore had to give up and I've no desire to follow in his footsteps by picking up unnecessary stings. However, I'm very gentle with the bees, even wearing gloves, and they rarely go for me. I'd hate to be without my little darlings; the garden would be too, too quiet.
 

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PH
Why do you prefer the leather gloves over marigold or Nitrile?
I used to use leather gloves but I found them really difficult to work with and I reckon I probably got more stings even though they are thicker.
I tried them again recently and it felt like I was trying to do a colony inspection with boxing gloves on.
If I know I have to work with difficult bees, usually someone elses, I wear an elasticated jacket and veil for extra protection, but I do like to keep my hands as free as possible.
 

ribblesbees 

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However, I'm very gentle with the bees, even wearing gloves, and they rarely go for me. I'd hate to be without my little darlings; the garden would be too, too quiet.
I think you got it in one QB.

I try to be gentle and move deliberately and I even go as far as apologising to them if I think I may have not been quite as gentle as I want to be. Mind you I talk to them all the time I'm near them anyway whether I'm going to do anything or not, and so far it seems to be working. (OK please don't laugh too much at that idea). :blush5:


Yes that is something that is typically british - to hear the sound of bees.

bee-smillie
 

Poly Hive 

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I wear them because I like them Jon and being used to them it works for me.

I tried nitrile years ago and hated them plus the stings went right through far too easily for my comfort.

PH
 

jon 

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The nitrile can get a but clammy inside which is a minus point.
The bees can sting straight through if they want to but I find this to be very rare.
Mine just crawl over the gloves and I smoke them off every now and again.
 

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