Why you should always wear clean underwear when beekeeping!

My mother was right, you should always wear clean underwear….This was my husband’s comment after our latest beekeeping adventure.  According to our friend Bruce, sometimes you need kevlar underwear, and maybe that would have helped in this instance, but only if Neil had been wearing the underwear on his head.
The bees in my Aztec yard were particularly pissy the other day.  I think because the alfalfa has been cut, and there is a dearth for them now.  I got stung three times just walking through the yard.  There are times that bees stings are not something to be trifled with.  Neil received 4 stings to his head and face, and he couldn’t get the stingers out, so got ALL the venom.  He usually has a strong local reaction, like, the hand that got stung swells up huge and stays that way for 3 days.  That is not what you need clean underwear for.
This time, he started getting hives all over the arm that had a bee sting on the hand.  Then,  hives on the other arm, too.  When there is a reaction in an area not stung, it is time to go the the Urgent Care unit.  He was beet red, boots to hat, and said that his ears were burning.  All of these are clues to an allergic reaction.
We went to urgent care, where they viewed his underwear while giving him two shots that he was very happy to receive.  This is not a place to mess around and wait to see.  Go to urgent care!
It is very common for relatives of beekeepers to develop an allergy to bee venom, since they come in contact with the venom on bee suits and equipment in doses too small to engender resistance.  It is very wise for every beekeeper to have an epi-pen on hand.  I have been a beekeeper for 12 years now, and just now saw this reaction in my mate.
The fact that Neil’s hives were going away even before he got his shots makes me pretty sure that he just needs more bee venom.  Many beekeepers tell me that they have worsening reactions in the 2nd and 3rd years of beekeeping.  My reply is always that they are not getting enough stings.  Another good reason to work bare-handed!  Develop resistance, not allergic reaction, but have an epi-pen on hand in case you are the one in a thousand, or your husband is.
My plan now, always wear clean underwear when beekeeping, and give my husband micro-stings once a week.  He says “NO!” I guess I’ll be sneaking up on him…  T
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