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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thoughts on Getting Stung

Bees sting - that's part of being a beekeeper. However, beesuits, veils, smoke, and caution should keep stings to a minimum. All of my first year of beekeeping, I was only stung three times. The first time was when I stepped on a dying bee in the house and she stung the bottom of my foot.

When I get stung, I have what is called a "large local reaction." First the bee stings, I scrape the stinger out, and the site really burns and looks red. Then four hours or more after the sting, a huge area around the sting site gets red, swollen, hot and itchy. The "large" part of the large local reaction can be four to six inches long and wide. The swelling lasts for days, as does the itching.

Well, my second sting was much more dramatic. I was stung as I was watching the bees come in and out of the hive. The guard bee got me right under my right eyebrow. It was around 5 PM on a Sunday afternoon. The next day, Monday, I was scheduled to make videotapes with my Emory graduate students in which I had to be taped as well as the students. I woke up to find that my eye was almost swollen shut. I still had to teach my class, make the videos with the students and put on a good front. I told them I could only be filmed from the left side!

I don't remember the details of the third sting but I think it was on my knee.

In this my second bee season, I have already been stung four times. I think it is in part because I am not being as careful about having my beesuit and veil on when I do small things with the bees. When I broke my camera about a week ago, I got stung twice on my left arm and once on my right little finger. I didn't have my gloves on my hands and I was being careless. The stings on my left arm have just stopped being swollen and have just stopped itching.....ten or more days since I was stung. For about a week, you couldn't see that I had knuckles on my left hand because my hand was the size of a squashed tennis ball.

That brings us to today. This morning while I was talking to my daughter on the cell phone, I went out to sweep off the deck between the beehives. I didn't have on a veil, no gloves, no jacket and was wearing black (a no-no around the bees who then think you are a bear. ) As I was sweeping and talking, I was stung on my right elbow.

I had read that putting a real penny on the sting helps, so right away I put a penny on the sting. Sure enough, the pain went away quicker than usual. But now it is 10 PM, 12 hours after the sting and my elbow is swollen in an elongated six inch by three inch oval. It is hot and itches. And so begins another 7 - 10 day stretch.

I'd put a picture up but it seems too much like those horrible pictures of skin diseases that my brother and I used to look at in my father's medical journals!

Next time I sweep, I'm wearing my bee gloves!

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