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Lone Mountain

Bee Stings

People exposed to bee stings will suffer a wide range of reactions, from mild local inflammation with redness, heat, swelling and itching to a severe allergic anaphylactic reaction at the other extreme. A mild reaction is the most common reaction, with allergic reaction occurring in 5 – 7.5% of people stung.

The venom sac should immediately be flicked out to minimise the dose and an ice-cube used to cool the sting site and reduce inflammation.

Causes

Bees sting when they feel threatened, or perceive a threat to the hive, particularly when there is brood.

Accidentally hitting a bee, such as when it is flying near you is likely to make a bee feel threatened - it is better to walk away.

Allergic reaction & Anaphalaxis

If you’re very allergic to the bee’s toxin, or if you get stung multiple times, bee stings can cause a more serious allergic response. In such rare cases, bee stings may cause a life threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This happens when your immune system overreacts to the allergy trigger, sending your body into crisis mode. Symptoms can start within minutes or take up to a half-hour to show up.

Anaphylaxis is always a medical emergency and requires hospitalization.

Key symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

Treatment

Medical treatment includes lying the victim down flat with elevated legs to restore central circulation, airway support for breathing and administering Adrenalin, intramuscularly, intravenously or directly into the heart.

A single EpiPen should not be relied upon.

Emergency treatment

When it comes to anaphylaxis and other severe allergic reactions, multiple treatments are often used together. Cardiopulmoary resuscitation and oxygen delivery may be required.

This includes the following medications and other medical approaches:

  • Epinephrine (EpiPen). If you’ve had anaphylactic shock after a bee sting in the past, you’ll need to carry an EpiPen with you at all times. The pen delivers a shot of epinephrine (adrenaline), which counters your body’s allergic response. It opens airways and helps stabilize your blood pressure.

  • Oxygen. At the hospital, oxygen therapy may be used to assist your breathing.

  • IV antihistamines. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and promethazine can be administered intravenously to help your immune system calm down. They reduce histamines, substances in our blood that cause allergy symptoms.

  • IV and oral corticosteroids. This class of medications imitates cortisol, a naturally occurring hormone that regulates a lot of biological processes in our bodies. Corticosteroids lower immune system activity to allow inflammation to calm down.

Should you be stung by a bee again, using an EpiPen may prevent a severe allergic reaction, although you still need to go to the hospital.

It’s important to let family or friends know that you carry an EpiPen. In case of emergency, they can administer it if you’re unable. The pen is usually injected into the thigh.

Individuals with a history of severe reactions may, on their next exposure, develop an anaphylactic reaction and should prepare for this possibility:

  • maximum precautions to avoid contact (i.e. giving your bees away)

  • wearing a medic-alert warning

  • carrying a supply of the necessary drugs with you.

  • A mobile phone with speed dial would be a useful addition

  • If you have suffered any severe reaction, you should never go beekeeping alone, as reaction onset can be swift, and time is critical.  

Using an EpiPen

Remedies

Bee stings are often treated with a combination of both traditional first aid and home remedies.

Several of the most common at-home treatments for bee sting symptoms aren’t supported by scientific research. Yet they’ve been passed down for generations and continue to be popular.

It’s important to remember that none of these home remedies should cause more pain or make the sting worse. Should this happen, stop and clean the sting with soap and water, and don’t try that approach again.

An anti-histamine cream could also be applied e.g. Anthisan, which can be bought without prescription). If your reaction is a little more severe you may consider taking anti-histamine tablets e.g. Piriton or an anti-inflammatory drug e.g. Diclofenac. 

 

1. Honey

Honey may help with wound healing and infection prevention.

2021 research reviewTrusted Source reported that medical-grade honey (MGH), including Manuka honey, has proven to lower inflammation and have strong antimicrobial properties. This means that MGH can help repel bacteria and fungi. It’s less clear whether other traditional honeys have such effects.

Honey is also believed to release oxygen into wounds to aid healing and help flush out dead tissue.

To treat bee stings with MGH or household honey, apply a small amount to the affected area. Cover with a loose bandage and leave on for up to an hour.

2. Baking soda

A paste made of baking soda and water can help with a variety of insect bites and stings. It’s believed baking soda can neutralize bee venom, reducing itching and swelling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the following recipeTrusted Source for baking soda paste to calm mosquito bites. Many people also use it for bee stings:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon water with enough baking soda to make a thick paste.

  • Rub the paste over the affected area.

  • Leave on for 10 minutes.

  • Rinse off.

Another suggestion is to cover the paste with a bandage to help it take effect and leave it on 15 minutes before washing it away.

3. Toothpaste

There’s no real scientific evidence that toothpaste can help bee stings. However, people claim that the alkaline toothpaste (high pH) neutralizes the acidic honey bee venom (low pH). If this is true, however, toothpaste won’t work on wasp venom, which is alkaline.

Similar to baking soda, it’s believed that toothpaste will draw out venom. Mint types are also said to provide a cool, soothing effect.

Either way, toothpaste is an inexpensive and easy home remedy to try. Simply dab a bit on the affected area, and wipe away after 10 to 20 minutes.

4. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is used for a wide range of health and wellness purposes, from improving skin conditions to helping manage diabetes. While not all of its uses are supported by research, it’s a scientifically-backedTrusted Source antibacterial.

Some people believe apple cider vinegar can neutralize bee venom, prevent infection, and lower inflammation.

Soak the site of your bee sting in diluted apple cider vinegar for at least 15 minutes. You can also wet a bandage or cloth in the vinegar and then apply it to the sting site. Stop this approach if it causes irritation.

5. Aspirin paste

Another long-standing home remedy for reducing the discomfort of a bee sting is to apply wet aspirin — or aspirin paste — to the sting site. This consists of crushing up an uncoated aspirin tablet and mixing the powder with water into a paste.

However, a 2003 studyTrusted Source concluded that applying aspirin topically to bee or wasp stings didn’t hold up when tested. The aspirin paste actually increased redness among participants and didn’t decrease the duration of swelling or pain. Ice was determined to be a more effective treatment.

6. Plant extracts and essential oils

These naturally occurring topicals are associated with wound healing and may help relieve symptoms of a bee sting.

Some of the support behind these remedies is anecdotal. However, research indicatesTrusted Source that aloe vera and witch hazel do have proven anti-inflammatory properties. They often appear as ingredients in many skin care products and other wound-healing topicals.

Here are some natural remedies to consider:

  • Aloe vera has a variety of uses, including soothing irritated skinTrusted Source. You can buy the gel or make your own if you have an aloe plant. Simply break off a leaf and squeeze the gel directly onto the affected area.

  • Witch hazel is a natural astringent and antiseptic. It’s considered a go-to home remedy for insect bites and bee stings that can prevent infection, and reduce swelling and pain. Apply witch hazel (which comes as a clear liquid) directly to the bee sting as needed.

  • Calendula cream is an antiseptic used to heal minor wounds and ease skin irritation. Apply the cream directly to the sting site and cover with a bandage.

  • Lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory abilities and can help relieve swelling. Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil. Dab a few drops of the mixture onto the sting site.

  • Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and may ease bee sting pain and prevent infection. Mix with a carrier oil and apply a drop to the sting site.

What happens to the bee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biology

The sting mechanism is developed from the embryonic final three abdominal segments, which are held within a cavity: the sting chamber, enclosed by the final (seventh) abdominal segment. The components are three plates described by their shape (oblong, quadrate and triangular) which act as a lever system to move the sting shaft, a hollow canal with a barbed tip.

 

The canal is formed from two lancets and a dorsally situated stylet containing a bulb from which venom is pumped as the lancet parts move. The venom sac is fed by a pair of exocrine glands (the poison or acid glands) and feeds the venom into the bulb mechanism. Another gland (the Dufour or alkaline gland) lubricates the mechanism. The plates are operated by muscular contractions and result in the stylets moving differentially. As the bee arches and the sting is extended, the stylets are driven into the skin and venom is pumped through the sting shaft.

 

Bee venom is composed of a number of chemicals the most important of which is the protein, Melitin, which causes rupture of blood and mast cells. Mast cell rupture releases Histamine in animals and humans - a potently vasoactive substance which causes vasodilation and initiates an inflammatory response. Other venom products include phospholipase and hyaluronidase, both of which break cell walls down, with resultant release of other animal chemicals including 5-Hydroxytriptamine , responsible for inflammation and pain. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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