Bee stings don’t bother me.” My jaw dropped in disbelief. These words had come out of my own mouth! I was a little impressed with myself, finally perhaps, I am a true beekeeper. I’ve seen so many of the experienced beekeepers brush off stings as a mere nuisance, for this moment I felt one of them.  I agree that ”Bee stings are not so bad: a sharp jab, poker-hot pain, the urge to swear, throbbing pressure, gradual dissipation. Before you know it, it’s all gone but the itch” ** But little did I know….

I take an ultra-cautious approach to harvesting the honey crop.

My armour consists of:

  • Full bee suit
  • Jeans tucked into socks
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Wellingtons
  • Leather gloves to my elbows,
  • Duct tape at all possible bee entry routes
  • Smoker (puffing)
  • Hive tool
  • Exit strategy (carefully planned)

I was sweating under the protective layers but still a bee had got in my veil and stung me near my eye. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was stung until safely back in the car, I looked in the mirror and saw the barb smack in the centre of my eyelid! A close call I thought as I scraped it off.  There was a tiny slit in the bee suit hood veil, bees only need 4mm and are opportunists, or else there are just so many one is bound to get lucky! Ouch! But after a few minutes the nicely swollen eye wasn’t painful.

Nearly a week later my eye was still swollen and was getting very irritating. Rubbing it with a tissue was apparently the wrong thing to do! I know that now because of the shooting pain like razor blades in my eye. I couldn’t open either eye on Sunday so it was off to A&E. The relief of the numbing eyedrops cannot be overstated! Abrasion on the cornea was the diagnosis and it should heal in two days. Two more days of not being able to move my left eye without my right eye giving me daggers brought me to the emergency eye clinic yesterday. A saintly doctor pulled out the sting barb from my eye!  It looked invisible to me so he took a photo of it and zoomed in. It looked innocuous. Finally the pain went away. As I write, my vision hasn’t fully returned to my right eye but the prognosis is excellent, I can see the improvement and should be ok in a few days.

Lesson 1 – Always check bee suit and hood for damage

Lesson 2 – Never rub eyes with a tissue.

I often get asked “Do you get stung by the bees?” The answer is YES, lots. I wrap up well in a bee suit and use gloves when inspecting my hives and go a bit over the top with PPE for honey harvesting. Please, please ignore all the Youtube videos of beekeepers with no PPE from around the world, they do not have our bees! These days it’s usually when I take off my gloves or bee suit that an opportunistic bee annoyed at my trying to help them with my infernal hive inspections, takes advantage. Ouch!

According to the Journal of Asthma and Allergy, approximately 5 to 7.5 percent of people will experience a severe allergic reaction to insect stings in their lifetimes. In beekeepers, this risk rises to 32 percent.

**Here is a link to a bunch of articles about stings

Please have a look at the Three Steps to Take Immediately After a Bee Sting it might save your life.

Check here if you What to know about bee sting allergies    

By SuperManu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


One response to “Ouch!”

  1. Elisabeth Avatar

    What a horrid experience with your eye – and it still has not put you off??

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