beekeepers miscellaneous musings

Rings and beekeepers: Will the circle be unbroken?

I was reminded yesterday about how important it is to remove your rings when beekeeping. Usually I have very little reaction to bee stings. They hurt for a moment and turn red. The redness disappears after a few minutes. Sometimes they itch.

But every so often one produces swelling that lasts a long time. Yesterday I got stung on the finger and my rings became so tight that I kept waking up in the night. This morning I was able to get the rings off and now everything is fine.

I have no idea why this swelling happens just occasionally, but it does. Nearly every beekeeper has heard stories of people having their rings cut off in the emergency room, so it is good practice to just remove them before beekeeping. Of course, we all forget.

Last year I was sure my husband’s ring would have to go. He got stung on the finger right through his glove. There was time to remove the ring before the swelling started, but for some reason, neither of us thought about it. Twenty minutes later we were icing, elevating, and bemoaning the fact we were so stupid. Like many problems, it is easy to prevent but hard to correct once it happens.

My advice is to get in the habit of removing any rings before you start messing with bees. If you forget, remove them as soon as you get stung in that area. Even those who seem to be generally immune to stings can occasionally react to them. Worse, emergency personnel I have known show unmistakable glee when they are about to use their cutting tools. Don’t give them a chance . . . remove your rings in advance!

Rusty

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