Bee are very well known for their ability to sting people and animals. This is the bees’ only form of defense. They have a small barbed stinger on their back end which is pushed into the skin and releases Apitoxin. This toxin is a mixture of proteins that can cause inflammation and irritation and can act as a anticoagulant. A honey bee can inject 0.1mg of apitoxin from it’s sting. The stinger is attached to other organs in the bee’s body which are ripped out with the stinger, and left behind in the victim. The stinger then starts to pump out a pheromone which stirs up the other bees and makes them go into attack mode to protect the hive. If you have been stung you should remove the stinger as quickly as possible, and cover up the scent with smoke if available.
Apitoxins have been used in medicine for many years. Apitoxins have been used for treatment of rheumatism and arthritis and as an anti-inflammatory. It is used in beauty products and collagen treatment. It has also been used to help with desensitising people with allergies.
People who are hyper-allergic to bees often have to carry epinephrine to protect against shock. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reation which can cause death. When we are stung the body produces enzymes to fight against the toxins. Anaphylaxis can be caused by the over-production of these enzymes which then start to attack our own body’s systems. It is a common reation to any allergy and can happen to any one at any time.
A lot of the toxins that cause anaphylaxis have a cumulative effect, which means the more you are exposed the more you can react.
As a bee keeper I have started to test my own theories about cumulative reactions and the honey bee apitoxin. I will state that no one should try this at home and it could be very dangerous. You should protect yourself against stings in all circumstances.
I have suffered from hay fever all my life and it has been very trying at times. I started to wonder what was causing the hay fever. I found out it is a minor allergy to pollen and dust. I then became a bee keeper and was stung quite a lot, with minimal reactions. I handle a sting very well and sometime enjoy them. So I wondered if my body had regulated the histamine reaction whilst dealing with my hay fever. My hypothesis is that if you have suffered from hay fever when young then the body has had time to control the reaction to stings.
My experiment is to allow myself to be stung thought the year and to monitor the reactions. So far I have been stung about 150 times in the past two years and the sting reaction is still very minimal. I am going to allow myself to be stung up to 100 times a year and keep taking observations.