What to do
First identify if they are honeybees, bumblebees, wasps or hornets:
or for a Swarm Collector near your swarm click link below
The good news is that bees are generally not as aggressive as wasps and hornets,
Once certain species of bees have inserted their stinger, the bees are unable to pull it out (using a similar principle to a fish hook which is easy to get into flesh but difficult to pull out).
The bee literally tears itself away leaving the sting still connected to the venom sac which continues to pump venom into the victim for up to a minute from the time of insertion. The need for a bee sting to be removed as soon as possible is therefore evident! The poor old bee meanwhile has left part of its body behind and dies as a result.
The bee is different to the wasp in that the more aggressive bee species will usually die after stinging its victim. These bees would typically be the honey bee and the Africanized bee and it is these species that commonly sting and leave their barbed stinger behind in the victim. It should once again be noted that bees are generally far less aggressive than wasps and will usually only attack if their nests are seen to be under threat or in desparate circumstances – like being stood on! I am sure that if honey came from wasps, “wasp keeping”would not be the popular and valued hobby and industry that bee keeping has become today!
Treatment for Stings
If a beekeeper has a fairly severe reaction to stings with some degree of pain and swelling, he may choose to take medication before going to the apiary
Aspirin and anti-histamines are the tablets to consider, but nothing should be taken without consulting your own doctor first. Only your GP can advise about the possible interaction with any other medication which is already being taken.
If a beekeeper is likely to have severe reactions to stings his doctor might have prescribed an Epi-pen adrenaline injection to carry, for an emergency. Only the beekeeper or a trained colleague who has been given prior permission by the beekeeper may use this injection.
Bee sting shock
If a person is stung and shows some distress it is important to follow a few basic guidelines. Bee sting anaphylactic shock is rare and you may never see it, but if you know what to do you can react quickly and calmly to help.
When a honey bee stings, the sting, venom sac and venom pump are left in the skin after the bee pulls away, the honey bee consequently dies.
Most of the venom will be injected in the first 20 seconds but the pump can continue for up to two minutes. It is important to get the sting out fast to minimize the dose of venom.
The best method is to scratch out the sting with a fingernail or hive tool quickly. Then smoke the area to mask the alarm pheromone in the sting to stop any more bees from stinging in the same area. A quick squirt with wasp-eze or another product will have the same effect as smoke if you are not a Beekeeper
If possible, close the hive gently, move away for a few minutes and apply a soothing lotion, such as Witch Hazel or calamine lotion onto the affected area. On returning home, an ice pack or packet of frozen peas will help to reduce any pain or swelling resulting from the sting.
Some people have some allergic reaction to stings. This can range from slight swelling in the vicinity of the sting, to a generalized itching (urticaria) or anaphylaxis (generalised shock including difficulty in breathing). This very allergic group needs to be careful. Unfortunately even beekeepers that normally show little reaction to bee stings may react adversely the next time they are stung so it is always wise to be prepared and ensure that help can be called in any emergency.