Sunday, May 13, 2012

On Bee-ing Careful

Yesterday, I received my first bee sting ever. (To my knowledge I was never stung growing up.) A couple things were wrong yesterday:
1. It was overcast yesterday morning when Mom and I went to check on the bees. Ideally, we should have waited until it was sunny, but we anticipated rain yesterday (which never showed up) so we wanted to check on them first thing in the morning. When it is sunny, a majority of the bees will be out gathering pollen and nectar. If it is overcast, the bees will be couch potatoes and hang out in the hive.
2. We didn't take the bee brush or smoker with us to check on the hive. The bee brush would have helped move the bees out of the way, so the frames would be easier to grasp. The smoker would have calmed them down.
3. I should have worn my gloves. We've had the bees for about a month now and I've gotten to the point where I usually wear long pants, closed toed shoes and my hat/veil. Gloves and long sleeves have become optional. The gloves because they get in the way. I have small hands and it's pretty near impossible to find gloves that have short enough fingers. The long sleeves have been abandoned because it's been unseasonably warm outside. At least I wore the long sleeves yesterday or it might have been worse.

Here's what happened:
We were checking out the different frames, observing the amount of eggs and larva, and looking for the queen. The bees have about 5 frames that have honey on the top 1/3, then pollen, then eggs and larva. On frame 3 of 5, I picked up the frame and we were observing/investigating. Then a bee (which I didn't even see), was on my left thumb and stung me between the knuckle and the palm of my hand, on the palm side.
First thing you should know about getting stung by a honeybee: DO NOT SQUEEZE the stinger. If you squeeze it, more of the irritant will enter your body, causing a greater reaction. Instead, SCRAPE off the stinger. I used a putty knife to remove the stinger. See illustration below:

Second, when a honeybee stings, it is a kamikaze kind of action. Once they sting, they die because the stinger stays behind in your skin and yanks out part of their innards.
Third, take Benadryl. I took one less than half an hour after being stung and I think this helped my thumb from swelling as bad. It still swelled (so much that it was difficult to don my leather work gloves and help with farm work) and was incredibly sore. This morning it isn't as sore, but itches a lot.

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