Since my recent honey extraction, I’ve been stung twice, both times on the face. I swelled up like a balloon, and I’m not even allergic.

My daughter practiced her considerable makeup skills on me this weekend, so I don’t look quite so much like the Elephant Man today.

In fact, the swelling in my face smoothed out a few wrinkles.  I’m calling it “Beetox.”

But the fact  I was stung in the first place by my usually gentle girls made me wonder — Why now? Why on my face? Why did I have such a bad reaction?

I did some research. The answers were, as usual, mostly  “Me-” rather than “Bee-” related.

1.  I didn’t have my bee veil all the way on.  Bees are alarmed by carbon dioxide, hair, and dark colors because common predators of bees (e.g. bears) are hairy, dark colored, and exhale carbon dioxide.  This  is also why bees are drawn to attack the face and head.

2.  Bees are cranky after a honey extraction.   They don’t like anyone taking their honey.  I haven’t noticed this before because this is the first year I’ve had enough honey to extract in the spring. Usually I extract in the fall, right before my bees start closing down shop for the winter.  Also it was warm, rainy and humid.  Bees get cranky for some of the same reasons people do.

3.  I swatted at the bee and hopped and flailed my arms.  Big no-no. Bees are attracted to movement and swatting only makes them more determined to sting.

4.  I pulled out the stingers out with my fingers. This squeezed more venom into the wound. Instead,  I should have scraped the stinger out sideways using my fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.

I’m sure my girls will settle down to normal once they get over the shock of being robbed and the weather dries out a bit.

While I would’ve preferred to have learned the above a different way, a few stings are a part of beekeeping. And I do look a little younger…

13 thoughts on “Beetox

  1. Oh no! Sorry to hear about the bee sting. I got into some poison ivy this past weekend and now have itchy hives of my own 😦

  2. Sorry to hear about your bee stings. Interestingly, I got my first sting a few weeks ago and my hand blew up like a balloon. The doctors I saw and spoke to since say I’m mildly allergic (not anaphylactic but there is an allergy) and have given me some advice on what to do. The most immediate being to take an antihistamine tablet at least 30 minutes before beekeeping to stop the histamine response if I do get stung. There are a couple of beekeepers at my association who are very allergic and they take antihistamine throughout beekeeping season. I’ll be writing a post about it soon.

    The experienced beekeepers at our association think stings are worse when bees are bad tempered, just like you mention they get cranky in rain or gloomy weather. Hope your ladies get less stingy soon!

  3. bigsmileu1 says:

    Ouch! So sorry the little honeys got you. Thanks for sharing your information, there are a few things I didn’t know about bees. I didn’t know they could be so ornery about the weather or at being swatted. I will be extra careful around them. I hope your stings heal quickly. 🙂

  4. I am all better, thanks! And I won’t be swatting or flailing in the future… 🙂

  5. Emily Heath says:

    Getting stung in the face is so uncomfy…and embarrassing too. I wore sunglasses at work for three days last summer. Glad you’re better now.

    I read an article recently about low rates of cancer amongst beekeepers, so there may be an upside to the stings!

  6. P&B says:

    One thing I’ve learned from beekeeping class was that “no banana”. A chemical in banana will set the bees on defensive mode.

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