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Bee stings on hands- is extensive swelling normal?

I have a very productive hive that was a wild caught swarm. In general they are very tame bees. But twice in 4 months I have been randomly stung on a finger by bees from that hive.

Both times I have been stung on a bony part of finger where the skin is quite thin…

The second sting was today- and once again- four hours later my entire hand is swollen beyond the wrist- up to six inches from the finger that was stung. It’s really puffy. I don’t usually get Themis much swelling from stings an other parts of the body.

I have no other symptoms elsewhere and it doesn’t really hurt. If I clench my fist my joints all feel tight.

This is what happened last time and it took a good week before all puffiness went away.

Do antihistamines help much to reduce swelling? How about ibuprofen?

Also is it possible certain colonies are more venemous than others?

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@Semaphore, I suffer severe swelling and pain and itching that can last for weeks, A homeopathic remedy APIS 30 was recommended, last time I was stung I used Apis30 and all symptoms were gone after 10 minutes, may be worth a try.

@Semaphore it both is and isn’t normal. Some people have no reaction and others need an Epi pen…

It likely means you have a sensitivity (much like myself). I get localised swelling a few inches around wherever I get stung. Antihistamines help. I generally take double the dosage for about 3 to 5 days (doc and chemist both said it’s ok).

Note that antihistamines aren’t antihistamines…some have different active ingredients and I’ve found Chemists own brand works best for me.

You SHOULD book an appointment and chat to your doctor though.


@BruceLonsdale what is that and where did you get it from? I did a quick google search and can’t find for certain what you mentioned…

@SnowflakeHoney http://www.healthpost.com.au/weleda-apis-mellifica-30c-wlhap30l-g.html?utm_source=Commission+Factory&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_content=Weleda+Apis+Mellifica+30c-Data+Feed+Link&utm_campaign=21187

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@skeggley Thanks for the link !

Hmm, intesting. I think it’s actually made of dried powdered bees? Apis Mellifica:

I should have eaten the one that got me! That seems like poetic justice

Seriously though- I might try that. If it really worked in 10 minutes that would be amazing

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Yes, but they work best if taken immediately after the sting, before the swelling sets in. Once the capillaries are dilated and leaking from the histamine effect, all the antihistamines can do is slow it down from getting much worse. You need a decent strength antihistamine too. In Australia, I would suggest Phenergan. In the US, Benadryl is the best choice. I discussed it here:

Ibuprofen and naproxen will reduce pain, but may actually may the swelling worse. If you want to know why, I put everyone to sleep with an explanation here:

If the swelling is really bad, you might want to see whether your doctor would be willing to give you a short course of steroids. That will block both of the biochemical pathways which cause swelling and pain from the sting.

You could also try the sprain approach to help the swelling reduce more quickly. Elevate the hand as much as possible when you are not using it. If you have a medical ice pack, put that on 3 times a day for 20 mins. If you don’t have an ice pack, put some ice into a large ziplock bag, wrap the bag in a towel and hold that over the swollen area (the towel helps prevent ice burns).

I don’t think so. From the medical literature that I have read, in non-allergic individuals the thing that most affects the severity of the reaction most is how long the stinger was left in place. The faster it is removed, the less the reaction. They also have studied whether squeezing the venom sac matters. The answer is that it is more important to get the stinger out fast by any means available, than to worry about squeezing. Scraping it out with a fingernail is just fine, failing that, a credit card works well.

Hope you feel better soon! :cry:


I too am sensitive, but not allergic. Yet. Makes me swell more than average folks and takes longer to go away. Also, hands & feet will swell more because we want to keep using them & don’t give the swelling a chance to go down. And they’re full of nerve endings :confounded: Listen to Dawn’s advice on the meds, and elevating your hand & using ice packs.

A couple old time remedies that do work are moistened tobacco which you can take from a cigarette, and a bit of baking soda made into a paste. They work because they’re both alkaline & help neutralize the acid of the venom - so they’re only effective in reducing pain & swelling right after you get stung.

About the stinger, Dawn is right, scrape it out asap - it’s my understanding that the venom sac remains attached to the stinger when you’ve swatted the rest of the bee away & keeps pumping venom in. Stingers are made of two serrated parts that move up and down, injecting you with more venom the longer they stay in your skin.


Recently I was pinged in my forehead, I immediately removed the stinger and raced inside and had an antihistamine. Very minimal swelling for the rest of the day, thought I’d dodged one.
The next day when I woke my eyes were almost swollen shut! I should have had another antihistamine before bed and I think all would have been ok.
Lesson learned.

a fingernail is just fine, failing that, a credit card works well.

Hope you feel better soon!

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do you think there is much point in me going out an getting antihistamines today? The swelling is still quite bad? I doubt it will get any worse though…

I’m going to get some to have on hand for next time though

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Hi Jack, I don’t think you had an allergic reaction to the stings. I think you are just sensitive in that area. I’m really sensitive around the heel area. I had to fix my boots so they couldn’t get me in that area.

In time, you’ll get quicker at removing stings & that will be a great help.

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Probably not, may just make you sleepy. I think most of the venom will be long gone, it is just the inflammatory reaction that is persisting. If you took ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen, that may why it is going on so long. Some people have no problems with those medicines for stings, but for others it makes the reaction very much worse. I think @JeffH has a good point too. Being stung in some areas is much worse for some people than for others.

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You’ll have to start wearing these Jeff


Good on you Mattress :sunglasses::sunglasses:

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I’ve had a couple of stings that have swollen up badly for a couple of weeks, even though normally i hardly have a reaction other than itchiness.

Keep an eye on your skin. If it gets red and hot it can be an infection, in which case see a doc for antibiotics.

The hand is ok🤗 No real redness or blotches just swelling which has started to go down- ice seems to have helped…

Speaking of ice- how about its opposite?

Has anyone heard of this ‘bite away’ insect treatment gadget that uses heat?


A scientist studing the varroa mite here in Germany, Pia Aumeier, did a blind study ob bee stings and Bite Away. While it is great for mosquito bites, there was no positive effect regarding pain, swelling and healing when people had two bee stings and didn’t know which one had been treated.

According to the bee keepers in my club a very weak reaction can be normal for the first few stings, the following 10-30 over the next years can make you swell up in the affected area like nobodies business, after that the reaction usually settles (back) down.
As long as it stays somewhat localized (lower arm wehn stung on the hand, eyes for cheek, etc.), no hives elsewhere on the body, no numbness of the tongue or tightness in the throat you should be good. Having some anti-histamines on hand is still sensible to do.

So far I had two stings and neither showed more than a big pimple, curious myself for what ride I’m in ^^

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