Bee stings are going to happen. It is just a matter of when, where and how many times.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SYMPTOMS!
Honey bee stings produce different symptoms in different people.
Some people experience a Mild Reaction with symptoms of itching, mild to moderate swelling, redness and warmth at the site of the sting.
Some, like me, experience what is defined as a Large Local Reaction. This kind of reaction produces swelling that extends beyond the sting site as well as pain, itching and redness.
Others suffer Severe Allergic Reactions.
Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction called an anaphylactic reaction and symptoms of anaphylactic shock include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling of the face, throat or mouth
- Wheezing or hoarseness
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness or sharp drop in blood pressure
- Stomach cramps
- Loss of consciousness
Please be aware of your symptoms after a honey bee sting. While severe allergic reactions are not that common, they can occur within minutes after a sting. They can lead to shock, cardiac arrest and unconsciousness in ten minutes or less. If you think you may be suffering a severe allergic reaction, please do not hesitate to get emergency medical attention.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET STUNG…
First and foremost, DO NOT PANIC! I believe the bees know when we are fearful and they react accordingly.
Do not start swatting; you will just irritate them. If you happen to smoosh the offending bee, it will release a pheromone that signals danger to the other bees and result in more stings.
Remove that stinger. DO NOT SQUEEZE IT! Squeezing causes more venom to be released. Use your fingernail, the edge of your license or a dull knife blade or even your hive tool and SCRAPE it off.
Smoke the site of the sting a little and step away for a couple of minutes to let the bees calm down.
Then, grab a bit of plantain weed, chew it up good and put it on the sting. Um, plantain, the banana-like fruit? No, this is a weed. A weed? Yes. A weed.
My husband and I took classes from The Fat Bee Man, Don Kuchenmeister, and my first sting came during one of our lessons. Don pointed at a weed and said, “Get some of that plantain, chew it up and put it on there.” I was a skeptic since I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about and was in too much pain to ask. I sort of did what he said. That sort of following directions did not stop the pain or swelling. At home my husband showed me the weed The Fat Bee Man had told me to use and explained what to do.
I got tired of getting stung and swelling up. After being stung many more times on my fingers, I decided to try the plantain weed again. I knew we hadn’t prayed any pesticides on the yard and my dog Max hadn’t passed through, so it was safe for me. I picked a couple of leaves, stuck them in my mouth and chewed. My husband laughed at me. I chewed it enough to get it tore up and mixed with my saliva, and then I put it on the sting. It hurt! It burned! It was worse to me than the sting itself! By the time the leaves were dry and falling off my fingers I realized this wonderful miracle weed had drawn out the venom from the sting. I could barely tell where I had been stung! There was no swelling and very little pain.
Does plantain weed work like this all the time? I have to say, “No.” Why? I think it depends on a couple of things. How long did it take to get that stinger out and the plantain applied? How long did you keep the plantain applied to the sting location? It can be difficult to keep it stuck on your finger when you are inspecting a hive. You could carry some band-aids or tape with you to help it stick.
WHAT DOES PLANTAIN LOOK LIKE?
I know of two varieties of the plantain weed on my yard, and I know where every little patch is located. One is broadleaf and the other is lance-leaf. As with any other weed or plant out there, I am sure there are a dozen different names for it. I remember telling my dad about this fabulous weed, but he did not recognize it from my pronunciation. I showed him the lance-leaf plantain, and he recognized it immediately and shared a story about his granny using it for stings. Then he showed me the broadleaf plantain, which I recognized as a weed that grew at my childhood home.
If you live in the city or a location that doesn’t sport this awesome weed, you can purchase seed to start your own little patch. Plantain salves are also available. There are many plantain salve recipes out there, so if you happen to have and abundance of the weed, you can make your own salve and even use your own beeswax in the process.