I read somewhere that 90% of the population’s reaction to bee stings is no more than a slight swelling and soreness that quickly resolves. Of the rest, only a tiny number will react severely and require medical intervention. Like, I expect, most new beekeepers, my reaction to this information was “It’ll never happen to me!”
As far as I knew, I had never been stung until last year. The reaction was pretty normal, a local swelling and some redness that subsided after a few days.
In April this year after removing my veil I was stung on the ear. This time the reaction was more severe and my ear swelled significantly much to the amusement and merriment of my not very sympathetic family and friends!
Only five weeks later, I was stung again and this time the reaction was a whole lot different. I had removed my gloves to mark the top of a frame with a drawing pin. A bee found its way into my glove and reacted as only bees can when I put the glove back on. It took about twenty minutes before intense itching began and another ten minutes before I experienced chest discomfort and a constriction in my throat. I drove myself home which in retrospect was not sensible. By then, I had a classic rash over my arms, chest and back and was beginning to feel that my tongue was swollen. A 999 call and a paramedic was reassuringly by my side in minutes, closely followed by the ambulance. My subsequent treatment in A&E was speedy and efficient.
I now carry an EpiPen at all times and I am awaiting an appointment with an allergy specialist to discuss the possibility of undergoing desensitisation treatment. I am still managing my bees but never alone and I am exercising extreme vigilance. Ultimately, I hope that my beekeeping activities will continue for a long time yet.
You cannot keep bees and not expect to be stung but the chances of you reacting badly are extremely low. Don’t let my bad experience put you off but be aware that it could, just maybe, happen to you too.
We will be meeting the public again at Earthworks on July 5th. Volunteers are needed to chat about bees to interested people at this event. If you can spare an hour or two, please contact Christine Aitken on 01582 792316.
The next apiary meeting is at 3pm on 11th July at Prae Wood, when the subject will be ‘Making up nucs and requeening’. All members and visitors are welcome.
Weekly meetings continue at the Prae wood and Oaklands apiaries, Saturdays 2-4pm. Members visiting the Prae Wood Apiary are reminded not to leave the heavy metal entrance gate open.