Yesterday evening I was grilling some chicken wings when something caught my eye in the oak tree above me. It was a large swarm that issued from a colony in my backyard.
I sprang into action, backing my truck under the tree so I could reach the limb with the clippers. During the process of trimming some limbs around the swarm, a small wad of clustered bees fell onto my unprotected left wrist and hand. Naturally, several of the excited bees plunged their stingers into my wrist.
It hurt, but because I was so focused on getting the swarm, I just allowed those stingers to continue to inject venom as I got ready to cut the final supporting limb. After I cut the limb, the main mass of the swarm landed in the hive awaiting them below. It was a successful capture.
What I didn’t expect was my body’s reaction to the comparatively large amount of venom I received from these stings! Instead of the localized pain and swelling, I started having a systemic reaction. I began to itch all over, I developed hives all over, and I began to have a sense of panic. I took Benadryl at the instruction of my wife and my brother-in-law (a paramedic) told me to increase the dose to 100mg. A short time later I was much improved, though very drowsy.
The only thing I can think of is that whereas I normally scrape off a bee stinger almost as quickly as I am stung, in this case I received a full dose of venom from several bees and my immune system reacted (or overreacted) accordingly. I just hope this was a unique incident and not signs of worse reactions to come.
I guess the 2013 season is now underway. I’ve been looking forward to this year as we have 11 hives now in their 2nd or 3rd seasons. We’re really looking forward to the harvest this year.