Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting Stung

I got stung last week while I was checking a fellow beekeeper's hives while he was out of town. This is a critical time of year for many hives with lots of swarms and supercedures (replacing the queen). His hives looked good but on the last hive check I got stung. 

My ankle swelled up so more that it did when I was pregnant and it was very hard to move.  This is a fairly typical response to bee stings for me and a number of other beekeepers I know. 

I've been asked lots of times if I get stung often and truthfully I do not. This was the third time I've been stung in three years - yes, once a year is my average lately. Given that I am in my hives about every 10 days from March to November, I am feeling really good about that. 

How do I not get stung often?
I am calm around my bees and pay attention to the moment. It is a very meditative experience for me. I do wear gloves and a veil but they are more as an aid to me to remind me to be in the moment. My gloves don't get stung either. 

What do I do when I get stung?
First, I take out the stinger. I usually use my fingernail to make sure I have it out. The venom is excreted in less than two minutes, so be quick.

Then, if possible, I chew plantain leaves and get them on the sting. Plantain grows in most people's yards and looks like spinach. This can help to neutralize the venom.

Finally, I use spray antihistamine to relive the itch. The itch is primarily from the swelling, so if you don't have it, don't use it.

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