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BEE careful!

Jun 13, 2023
Bee gathering pollen
As several people were lucky after being attacked by a swarm of bees in our neighborhood, it is the time of year to be very cautious when outdoors!

BEE careful!

Summer is a bittersweet time for bees:  they have new little ones to care for, and there is a critical concentration of them as many of the older bees, which will die away by September also populate their hives.  This contributes to them being feisty and aggressive.

A couple days ago, a firefighter and 3 people were stung many times by a swarm of bees protecting their hive in a neighborhood near Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak roads, before being sent to the emergency room Wednesday night.  Happily, everyone survived but this is not always the case. 

Why do reactions occur when bees sting?

When a person is stung, venom is injected into the victim.  If that person has an ALLERGIC REACTION, proteins from the venom connect with the allergic flags, Immunoglobulin E and deposit onto their receptors on master allergic cells.  The allergic cells release histamine (which you recognize because you take antihistamines like Benadryl during an allergy) which cause many of the symptoms of allergy, which can be life-threatening such as shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, swelling of the throat or tongue, hives, and flushing.  Worse still, many of the proteins of the other stinging insects are very similar, so if you are allergic to one, you may be allergic to others.

Another type of reaction is a TOXIC REACTION, which can occur because of the toxic nature of venom.  If stung by enough bees, the venom can lead to death, even if the person attacked is not allergic.

How can you avoid being stung?

Food and sugary beverages (sadly, even Coke Zero and diet beverages) attract bees.  Pets being fed outdoors, garbage cans with food, a fallen apple, a dripping popsicle, will all attract stinging insects.  Perfumes, hairsprays, lotions, and other cosmetics may also attract bees. White, tan, khaki and green are thought not to antagonize bees.

  • Keep food covered until discarded
  • Keep the area around your garbages clean
  • Garden cautiously
  • Avoid wearing perfumes and perfumed products
  • Avoid bright colors and flowery prints
  • Watch out for insects on the ground
  • Wear foot protection
  • Instruct children to look at toys or objects on the ground carefully before picking up

Can you remove the stinger?

Yes! Be very cautious to avoid rubbing or slapping at your arm or pinching the stinger, as you may unintentionally inject venom from the venom sac into yourself.  Instead, take a credit card and gently scratch the stinger out from the point of insertion into the skin toward the venom sac.  This should remove the stinger without injecting venom.

What should you do if you have a reaction?

Go to the emergency room as soon as possible!  If you are allergic, administer your epinephrine pen.

How is bee allergy treated?

Bee allergy is acutely treated with epinephrine, which is the antidote to an allergic reaction.  Long term, Venom Immunotherapy is used to desensitize patients and is 90-100% effective in doing so.  Unfortunately, multiple bee stings can create a toxic reaction, which is treated with supportive treatment.

Of course, prevention is best but if you need to be treated with immunotherapy or an anaphylaxis plan, call us today at 480-500-1902.  We would love to help you!