After work it is my usual routine to go look out my bedroom window and see what the hives are doing before getting dinner or heading out to a little league baseball game with my son and wife. Today I was planning on letting my wife put a honey super on the brown hive as I had a feeling that they needed the room. When I looked out the window I saw a familiar site of a very large swarm hanging up in the same tree that the previous swarms had landed in. We had been pretty diligent in hive inspections and had done a pre-swarm split with the Blue hive and opened the Brown hives' brood nest in put in empty frames with starter strips in the hopes of slowing or stopping the swarm urge until we could give them more room or do the split. Originally we were planning on doing the inspection/split on Saturday but something came up, something crazy.
I was tired Thursday evening so instead of going to a little league game I stayed home. Sometimes I like to go up on the roof and just watch the bees do their thing. Not sure why but this is very relaxing for me. I headed up and noticed the outer lid on the blue hive (the queenless one) was off kilter so reached over and adjusted it. A few bees started to buzz my face so I turned around and lowered my head while walking away from the back of the hive. Suddenly a bee gave up her life as it left its stinger in my eyelid. I had been stung before while working on the hives. On my hands, arms, leg and once on the crack on my posterior! I have never had more than a local reaction and was only concerned that my eye was now going to swell up. Inside the house grabbing an ice pack I noticed my ears were getting warm and my skin was turning red. I don't have allergys so had never felt this feeling of wanting to scratch the insides of my incredibly itchy eardrums. There was no thought in my head that I was suffering from anaphylactic shock as my breathing was fine. Calling my wife to let her know was probably the best thing I did that evening. I wasn't doing to bad and told here i would call if it got worse. I never called but in her amazing ability to know if things are not ok she called and I asked her to come home from the game down the street.\
By the time she arrived about 5-10 minutes later I had vomited twice and then proceeded to pass out on the kitchen floor. 911 was called, I came to and for some reason had to go into the bathroom where I passed out again. The paramedics arrived shortly after, they couldn't read my blood pressure and gave me a shot of Epinephrine to get it going. Seems that the common preconception about anaphylactic shock is that it affects your breathing. It might but it also can affect your blood pressure causing death. I spent the next 7 hours at the hospital because of the possibility of returning symptoms. Probably one of the scariest moments of my life lying on the floor wondering what the hell was going on. If you are deciding to take up beekeeping or are a beekeeper already don't think because you never had a bad reaction to a sting that you won't. Carry or have an EpiPen auto epinephrine injector close by. Don't wait to call for assistance if you feel at all not normal. It might save your life. More on the swarm in the next post, and a very public thank you to my wife for letting me continue to keep bees (she must really love me!)
Sorry to hear about your scary encounter with the bees. Hope you are feeling better. I have been stung most everywhere and there are times I look like I have had the crap beaten out of me (swollen face) but I have never had a breathing or blood pressure reaction. I have an epipen coming in the mail. It’s unfortunate but it often takes a negative incident like this to remind us of the potential danger however remote it is. Take care.
What an amazing story. I just received my 3rd sting but had the least reaction of all. After hearing your story, however, I am making an appointment with an allergist right away so I can have an Epi-pen on hand!
Holy crap. My hives are a 3 minute walk from a hospital. But I’ve got an appointment to see my GP on Wednesday to ask for a prescription for an Epi Pen. My Blue Cross insurance supposedly covers it.
Glad you didn’t die.
wow Steve, glad you’re ok. Really enjoying your blog btw.
What a terrifying experience. Perhaps the eyelid being such a sensitive area with thin skin meant the venom went in more rapidly. Glad you’re ok now.
Ho gosh! Glad you’re okay. Must have been scary for all the family!
Wow. Glad you’re OK.
I got an epi-pen a couple of years ago just in case I or a visitor have a bad reaction. My doc was totally sympathetic and prescribed it without hesitation.
I had to deal with my first swarm today, in a very, shall we say, cramped urban environment. It was unnerving. Have you had any negative reactions to swarms from your neighbours?
I plan to take extra precautions to prevent swarming next year. One bad reaction from one of my bad tempered neighbours, and that could pretty much put an end to my beekeeping.
Holy crap! Glad to know you are OK, sad about giving up the bees. I thought about giving up mine but couldn’t do it. I’m just way more careful and wear more protection. Thank god for Epi-Pens!
Wanted to let you know your story saved my life yesterday. My 5th sting was the one that sent me to Urgent Care. I used my EpiPen, and 3 shots, a pill and an IV bag later, I’m fine but am indescribably sad about having to give up my bees.
Gosh, so sorry to hear about your sting. I had a recent bad reaction and have been advised by a consultant to get tested for allergies in case an epi pen is needed in future. The doctor also told me to take an anti-histamine (not piriton) at least half an hour before beekeeping to lessen the reaction to stings, and I have heard other beekeepers say this really helps.
We had a swarmed hive too this year – the bees are really being naughty lately!
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January 16, 2017
Holy smokes! Glad to hear that you are doing OK. I have an epipen for my nut-allergic husband. Think I will get a second for the toolbox!