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Thread: Bee allergies

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    Default Bee allergies

    Hi, I'm a newbie to the forum, just discovered it as I start planning a 2011 thru-hike. Just a quick question, I'm allergic to bees so I always carry a couple epi-pens when I'm fishing, hiking or camping. So far, never had to use one but as active as I am outdoors it's a matter of when, not if. Has anyone had experiences running into hornets, wasps or yellowjackets... of course I know they're out there, just wondering about any bad experiences.

    brooktrout

  2. #2

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    Yellow jackets are the most plentiful. They nest in the ground and sometimes close to or on the edge of the trail. If they are disturbed as you pass they will usually attack. Many times several stings. Wasps and hornets are not as big a threat.

    The yellow jackets are always around shelters as well. They seem to be attracted to the smell of food.

    If you're doing a thru hike I would plan on being stung.

    Also just curious, if a person has never been alergic to stings can it come on at any time?

    Detour

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    I've been stung my share over the years- mostly by those cantankerous yellow jackets.
    However, I never had any problems with bees on last years thru-hike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ken downey View Post
    Yellow jackets are the most plentiful. They nest in the ground and sometimes close to or on the edge of the trail. If they are disturbed as you pass they will usually attack. Many times several stings. Wasps and hornets are not as big a threat.

    The yellow jackets are always around shelters as well. They seem to be attracted to the smell of food.

    If you're doing a thru hike I would plan on being stung.

    Also just curious, if a person has never been alergic to stings can it come on at any time?

    Detour
    Good question, maybe a doctor on this forum could give us an answer. I first became aware of my bee allergies as a youth, the reactions became more severe after each stinging episode. I had a business associate a couple years ago who was not aware he was allergic, ran over a yellowjacket's nest with a lawn mower, and died. My guess is that the symptoms are always there if you are allergic (swelling, breathing difficulty)so if you never experience any reactions chances are you're not allergic. As a side note, I also have severe reactions to poison ivy and oak. Hell of a note for someone who spends a lot of time outdoors.

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    Speaking as an EMT, an epi-pen will only get you so far. In the case of the severely allergic, it will only give enough time for the paramedic to get there with IV Benedryl. If you are prone to severe reactions, and expect to far from medical services you may want to ask your Dr about getting a syringe of Benedryl for a SHTF moment.
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  6. #6
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    I'm not a doctor, so this advice is free: yes, a person not known previously to be allergic can develop an allergy. I had been stung before without reaction, then had a severe one from a nasty black wasp. I've been stung since, sometimes I react, others not. Since that one time, I've only reacted enough to shoot up once, but my doctor says to just shoot... don't wait to see if you react. You can bet I carry an epi pen and benadryl (chew tabs - hadn't thought about a syringe of the stuff).

  7. #7

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    I learned by chance years ago mowing the grass that I am very allergic to yellow-jacket venom. I had been stung long before that but it was no big deal then.

    Late summer last year in GA I was pretty nervous when I saw countless yellowjackets 'patrolling' the trail near ground-level, feeding maybe (?), but they weren't aggressive or interested in my passing by. I got used to it but it was surreal the first day.

    If you carry an epipen you should also have benadryl. You can now get it formulated in a very thin sheet that dissolves on your tongue.

  8. #8

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    Try to not follow other hikers, esp. the clumsy ones. I was ahead/behind several who kicked a log on the trail and got stung. Me I never saw any on my hike, but I watch my steps.

    Do not touch logs. Watch your hike poles.

  9. #9

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    During my thru in 2006 once the weather got warm there were tons of carpenter/bumble bees http://www.pestproducts.com/bumble-bees.htm everywhere; they would land on me while taking breaks. I got to the point of not swatting at them and I noticed that they just wanted to lick the salt off my body.

    However, I did get stung once when one crawled up my leg, unbeknownst to me, and I moved and trapped it between my leg and pants, it felt threatened and stung me. Very itchy for a long time, but it could have been much worse, if you know what I mean

  10. #10
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    You could change your trail name to Smilin' Bob

  11. #11

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    Generally, honey bees aren't going to sting unless threatened.

    Yellow jackets are buttheads and will sting without much provocation. I had a bad reaction last year. I was hit by several yellow jackets on my legs. The one leg swelled to magnanimous proportions and became difficult to walk on. We got off the trail and got a ride to the ER. I literally watched the leg bubble with blisters from the time we left the trail to the time we got to the hospital. It was just gross. Even the doctor looked at it and said, "Ewww.".

    Nasty, for sure. But the wet conditions last year apparently ruined quite a few nests and food supplies, and made for some very agitated yellow jackets with strong venom. The ER said they'd had more than the usual number of icky stings that summer.

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    We've had several Scouts stung numerous times during section hikes. One Scout had 30+ stings, all because the moe-rons ahead of them were throwing rocks at a nest by the trail several minutes before. I had three hit my bare foot as I was boiling water to start supper - don't know where they came from!

    Be sure to let people know around you about your allergies, where the pen(s) are, where the syringes are, etc. We can't help if we don't know.

    Good luck.
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    I carry a couple of epipens and benadryl when on the trail. Didn't have allergies to wasp/bee/yellow jacket stinks until about a year ago. Before then, I've been stung many times without any reactions. My doctor told me that everytime that I'm stung from this point on, the reaction will probably be a little worse then the previous time.

    When hiking last fall, I encountered a couple of yellow jacket nests that were apparently dug up by bears or maybe something else. Others warned us about them so I covered up as best I could until I got past the nest. Don't know if that made a difference but I did get past the nest without getting stung.

  14. #14

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    Being allergic to bee (and wasp) stings, I have a theory: When you get stung near a hive of yellow jackets, the ones who will probably get to you are the "guards". I've been stung away from the hives and have suffered little more than the typical pain and some swelling. Twice in the past 10 years I have disturbed a nest and gotten stung very close to it (and very quickly). On both of those occasions I had a much more severe reaction to the sting than previously.
    I have only used the Epipen once, after being stung by a white-faced (bald-faced) hornet. I wasn't sure if I needed to use it, but did so anyhow. I got short of breath from the epinephrine and had to call the local rescue for oxygen. They said that my reaction was not atypical - not usual, but not unusual, either. The last sting by a yellow jacket near the hive (or nest) was on the side of my face. The area around my face went numb, and the whole right side of my face and neck became swollen. I had hives from head to toe. I called my mom, who is a retired RN and said I was on my way to see her - or the hospital, if the symptoms didn't diminish. Half an hour after taking some Benedryl, the itching and swelling started to subside (oh, I forgot to tell you, I was in the beginning stages of anaphylaxis - the windpipe closing off).
    Breathing a sigh of relief, I took the exit toward my mom's house and felt nearly completely healed the next day.
    Close call.
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  15. #15

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    Tinker. . . you might want to re-think getting in the car when you are having a reaction to a sting. If you had passed out in the car you could cause a wreck, injuring or killing yourself or someone else. Next time call an ambulance! Your family could also be held liable for an accident you caused if you passed out and hit someone else.

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    Registered User Graywolf's Avatar
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    I dont get reactions to stings, BUT, I am allergic to any kind of needle..I dont care if it is from the rear end of a yellowjacket or a syringe, I HATE em...

    just sayin....

    Graywolf
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  17. #17

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    Also not a doc, but I've had reason to research a bit, since my mother was very allergic, going into anaphylactic shock each time. A neighbor was a bee-keeper for many years and stung as they frequently are. Then, he was stung one time too many and ended up in the hospital. One thing I found out is that, the more locally allergic you are - local swelling, etc. - the less likely you are to suffer the deadly reactions. I hardly react at all, but OTOH, my wife swells up from a mosquito bite. I carry the epi-pen, but as said above, I'm not sure how much good it would do, if you were hours away from an ER...

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    Quote Originally Posted by TIDE-HSV View Post
    One thing I found out is that, the more locally allergic you are - local swelling, etc. - the less likely you are to suffer the deadly reactions.
    A severe local reaction can be equally as fatal. A single sting on the neck can close off the airway pretty quickly for some people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by makoboy View Post
    A severe local reaction can be equally as fatal. A single sting on the neck can close off the airway pretty quickly for some people.
    Good point. I once got stung under the tongue. I had kayaked Section IV of the Chatooga (border between SC and GA). We were loading up the car and I put my beer down on the hood. When I picked it up, there was something fuzzy under my tongue. Then, my mouth was flooded with a taste like novocaine like in the dentist's office and a dull pain under the left side of my tongue. I then spit out a yellow jacket and stomped on it. I took a couple of Advil, but I had a dull ache under my tongue for the next several hours. At least it helped keep me awake for the long drive home while the rest of the passengers slept. Well that kept me awake and the 30 minute stop by the Hayesville police, while they checked us out with the FBI database, I guess. Who would drive a getaway car with four yaks on top?

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    Quote Originally Posted by brooktrout View Post
    Hi, I'm a newbie to the forum, just discovered it as I start planning a 2011 thru-hike. Just a quick question, I'm allergic to bees so I always carry a couple epi-pens when I'm fishing, hiking or camping. So far, never had to use one but as active as I am outdoors it's a matter of when, not if. Has anyone had experiences running into hornets, wasps or yellowjackets... of course I know they're out there, just wondering about any bad experiences.

    brooktrout
    Got stung by a yellow jacket last summer as I was coming down the mtn North of Duncannon. I'm not allergic though.

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