Daily Archives: March 27, 2011

Bees and stingers

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[Today’s run: highway bridge 4 miles]

Today has been cool and cloudy all day.   I decided in the morning that it was a good day to try to mow some of the grass around the three beehives we keep.

Usually we don’t mow right up to the beehives during our regular mowing and save it for a cool morning when they are more likely to be sleeping in.  As we hoped, the bees were quiet because of it being cool and overcast. I made some passes with the riding mower, then cut a little closer with the push mower.  Then I did a little bit with the weed-whacker (string trimmer).  By that time they were waking up a bit and I got buzzed a couple of times.

And then one of them got me, on the chin right below my lip.

We’ve only had bees for about a year now and I had wondered from the beginning what this stinging thing would be like. Since then I have been stung a few times.  Usually, like today, it was when I didn’t bother to put on my bee suit.  It is hard for them to penetrate the bee jacket, hat, vail, gloves and long pants.  They can  get you through blue-jeans if they are tight to your skin.  It is better to wear a couple of layers or something loose. I have heard that they particularly like going for the hands and face and I can believe that. The one time I tried to work with the hive without gloves they hit me 4 or 5 times on the back of one hand.

Anyway, I took some benadryl and that has made me groggy most of the day.  My lip is swollen and looks funny  but it doesn’t really hurt or anything.  Usually it takes about 4-5 days for the effects of a sting to completely dissipate.  It swells up, any nearby joints feel achy, then it gets itchy and then sometimes there will be a a bit of scabbing where the actual entry point was.

The other interesting thing I have learned is that the bees are hit-and-run experts.  They don’t land on you and mosey around looking for a special spot.  Or at least that is not the way they usually get me.  They zip right in and plant their stinger before you even know you’ve been hit. I don’t think it hurts much more than a mosquito bite until a bit later when the venom starts to work.  And the ones that have stung can continue to buzz around your head and generally be a nuisance for awhile.  If they are really unhappy they will follow me back to the house.  I go into the garage where it is cooler, and wave an old towel around to discourage them or even knock them down.

You want to try to get that stinger out as quickly as you can, scraping it off with a fingernail or pocketknife or credit card or something, because the thing keeps pumping in poison for awhile after you get hit.  I think I got the stinger out quickly this morning so I am hoping that my fat lip won’t last very long.  The stinger itself is not very impressive.  It looks triangular with a very fine hairlike pointer and a larger part that breaks off from the rear of the bee.  I don’t think I have ever been stung by a detached stinger, but I have been stung by accidental contact with a dead bee.

(picture added Monday morning 3/28)

Mar 27, 2011
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