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Bee Stings – Prevention and Treatment

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Recently, we reviewed some of the similarities (and differences) between bees and wasps, and how to identify them.

For most people, bee and wasp stings are a painful annoyance at most. For others, though stings can be deadly. Today, we’ll be looking at how to AVOID being stung, and what to do if you’re unlucky enough to get stung anyway.

What is a bee sting?

A bee sting is a puncture wound by a bee or wasps’s stinging apparatus — which consists of a sac of venom attached to a barbed stinger. When a bee or wasp stings, the sac contracts, dumping venom into the tissue. This venom causes a localized reaction in most people… but for some, it results in a need for urgent medical care.

Due to the prevalence of bees as pollinators, it’s estimated that 3 to 4 times as many people die from stings than from snakebites each year. The most “feared” bee in the US is the Africanized honeybee (which has earned the nickname “killer bee,”). Africanized honeybees are more aggressive than “common” honeybees, attack in swarms, and will chase a target up to a quarter mile!

What are the symptoms of a bee sting?

Most reactions to a sting are mild to moderate and do not involve a severe allergy – in children, for example, only about 3% experience any allergic reaction.

An uncomplicated bee or wasp sting  causes instant, sharp pain, which usually lasts a few seconds and a swollen red mark at the site of the sting, which can be itchy or painful. the swelling will peak at around 48 hours, and the resulting welt may last for up to a week!

More severe reactions include: Extreme redness and swelling; an entire extremity or limb swelling up; rash, fever, nausea and headache (these are often associated with multiple stings). Multiple stings can be fatal for children. In rare cases, swollen and painful joints can occur. Of course if any severe symptoms pop up (such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, feeling dizzy or fainting, difficulty breathing and low blood pressure), seek medical attention immediately, as these could be signs of a severe allergic reaction — and can be fatal if left untreated!!!

Prevention

So how can you prevent getting stung? The most obvious solution is “don’t go near a hive!” Bees are often still present, though — even if there ISN’T a hive around– since they are pollinators… they’re busy and well-traveled! Bees can cover up to 50 THOUSAND total miles in their roaming to make 1 pound of honey!

DO:

  • Do keep clothing and your body clean – sweat may attract bees or wasps.

  • Do wear shoes.

  • Do make sure to remove nests near the home – by a bee professional! (We offer live removals, as well!)

  • Do cover food containers and trash cans.

  • Do use widely brimmed cups (instead of cans) to make seeing a bee easier while picnicking

  • Do take care with any activities such as garden trimming that could provoke a nest.

DON’T:

  • Don’t wear brightly colored clothing.

  • Don’t use fragrances and cosmetics that have floral scents.

  • Don’t walk barefoot or wear flip flops or open face shoes.

  • Don’t remove nests yourself – get a professional because many insects sting when provoked (bees are aggressive usually only when hives are attacked). Also, if any portion of honeycomb is left, bees will often return! Professionals can make sure that everything is removed properly!

 

So there you go! We’ve looked at what bee stings are, and how to AVOID them! Next week, we’ll look at what you should do if you’re unlucky enough to get stung — despite your best efforts!

If your home has a bee or wasp problem, give us a call!

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