For Most, Bee Sting Reactions Are Painful But Not Dangerous
Fear of bee sting reactions sometimes keep people from taking up the hobby of beekeeping.
But though honey bee stings most certainly do hurt, for most people, an allergic reaction to a bee sting is not serious.
For most, a honey bee sting involves a bit of pain, maybe a bit of swelling, but nothing more.
But for a very small percentage of the population, a honey bee sting is deadly serious.
Bee Sting Reactions Are Mild for Most
If you’ve ever been stung by a honey bee, you know that it hurts.
But most likely, the initial few moments of pain that you experienced was the worst of it. That’s the way it is for most people.
Bee stings always hurt. Even beekeepers that have been stung many times over a period of years still experience pain with each new sting.
But in addition to the pain, another sting reaction that’s common for many is a certain amount of swelling. The amount of swelling experienced varies from person to person, and also depends upon where the bee stung you.
The bee sting reaction experienced by the majority of people is mild to moderate swelling, along with some itching at the site of the sting. Along with the initial ‘Ouch!’
Some people have a significant amount of swelling around the area of the sting. But even a substantial amount of swelling does not necessarily indicate a dangerous bee sting reaction.
But for a very small percentage of people, the pain and swelling of a bee sting are the least of their concerns.
Deadly Bee Sting Reactions
For a very small percentage, less than 1% of the population overall, bee stings can be deadly. That’s because of the anaphylactic shock experienced by some.
For the severely allergic, symptoms of anaphylaxis usually occur within seconds of being stung. Wheezing, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, and even loss of conciousness are all possible symptoms of a severe bee sting reaction. In the most extreme cases, death can result within just 5 minutes of being stung.
Often, a person susceptible to anaphylactic shock must be stung twice before experiencing the most severe reaction. The first sting sensitizes the body to the bee venom (or the venom of another type of stinging insect). When the second sting occurs, the body’s immune system overreacts, resulting in the symptoms of anaphylaxis.
For the extremely allergic, beekeeping obviously would not be a wise choice of hobbies!
And If You Are Stung…
The single best bee sting remedy is not some expensive ointment or a bee sting kit, though these may help.
The very best thing you can do to minimize the effects of a sting are to quickly remove the stinger from your skin. But you must be careful about how you do it.
When a bee stings, the stinger apparatus, including the venom sac and the muscle that pumps the venom through the stinger, becomes separated from the bee’s body. That means that even after you’ve been stung, venom continues to be injected into your body as the stinger continues to function autonomically.
So if you remove the stinger quickly, you’ll minimize the dose of venom you’ll receive, and so mitigate the effects of the sting.
But if you just grab the stinger between your fingers as you remove it, you’ll squeeze the venom sac and inject more venom into your body. Instead, use something flat to scrape the stinger away; a fingernail, a credit card, a knife blade – anything that will allow you to remove the stinger by scraping it rather than squeezing it.
Don’t Let Fear of Bee Stings Rob You of a Wonderful Hobby
If you’re thinking about becoming a beekeeper, don’t let the fear of bee stings deter you. (Unless, of course, you’re among the severely allergic.)
Bee stings will always hurt, no matter how long you keep bees. But most beekeepers find that they become accustomed to the occasional sting quite quickly. And most find that a sting now and then is a small price to pay for all the enjoyment and satisfaction offered by beekeeping.
After all, it would sure be a shame to let a transitory moment of pain rob you of a lifetime of pleasure.
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