A few sting hints and cautions:
- Bees that have barbs on their stingers will die when they sting once because it rips their abdomen off when they try to fly away. Grisly little fact.
- Those bees that don't die after stinging have smooth stingers. They can sting many times if they want.
Info on stings from the Mayo Clinic:
Most of the time, signs and symptoms of a bee sting are minor and include:
- Instant, sharp burning pain at the sting site
- A red welt at the sting area
- A small, white spot where the stinger punctured the skin
- Slight swelling around the sting area
- In most people, swelling and pain go away within a few hours.
Large local reaction:About 10 percent of people who get stung by a bee or other insect have a bit stronger reaction (large local reaction), with signs and symptoms such as:
- Extreme redness
- Swelling at the site of the sting that gradually enlarges over the next day or two
- Large local reactions tend to resolve over five to 10 days. Having a large local reaction doesn't mean you'll have a severe allergic reaction the next time you're stung. But some people develop similar large local reactions each time they're stung. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor about treatment and prevention.
Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis):This is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. About 3 percent of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop anaphylaxis. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Skin reactions in parts of the body other than the sting area, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin (almost always present with anaphylaxis)
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the throat and tongue
- A weak and rapid pulse
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Dizziness or fainting
- Loss of consciousness
- People who have a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting have a 30 to 60 percent chance of anaphylaxis the next time they're stung. Talk to your doctor or an allergy specialist about prevention measures such as immunotherapy to avoid a similar reaction in case you get stung again.
Multiple bee stings :Generally, insects such as bees and wasps aren't aggressive and only sting in self-defense. In most cases, this results in one or perhaps a few stings. However, in some cases a person will disrupt a hive or swarm of bees and get stung multiple times. If you get stung more than a dozen times, the accumulation of venom may induce a toxic reaction and make you feel quite sick. Signs and symptoms include:
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Feeling faint or fainting
- If you were prescribed an emergency epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, Twinject), use it right away as your doctor directed.
If a stinger is in your skin:
- QUICKLY remove the stinger as soon as you can, as it takes only seconds for all of the venom to enter your body.
- Avoid squeezing the attached venom sac, which can release more venom.
- Wash the sting area with soap and water.
- Apply cold compresses to relieve pain and ease swelling. This can be a simple as pressing a cold can of soda pop to the sting. I like to mix baking soda & ice water to form a paste but there's no big research proof it does anything more than ice by itself.
- Avoid scratching the sting area. This will worsen itching and swelling — and increase your risk of infection.
Know what to do when you're exposed to bees:
- Don't allow children to play in an area where bees are swarming or busy collecting.
- If a few bees are flying around you, stay calm and slowly walk away from the area. Swatting at an insect may cause it to sting.
- If a bee or wasp stings you, or many insects start to fly around, cover your mouth and nose and quickly leave the area. When a bee stings, it releases a chemical that attracts other bees. If you can, get into a building or closed vehicle.
- If you're allergic to bee stings, your doctor will likely prescribe an emergency epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, Twinject). You'll need to carry it with you at all times.
If you're not allergic, simply use good sense (aw, yes that whole good sense thing) and let the bees go about their business and you go about your business. Be aware and take care - they are our little friends.
"Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it."
-Song of Solomon 8:13