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Bees, Wasps, and Hornets: They’re Back!

Hornets, bees and wasps are no joking matter. Should you be attacked by bees this summer, don’t panic, and follow these lifesaving tips.

Well, now that the weather is warming up around the country, guess who’s back in town?  Yes, ReadyNutrition fans, the social insects…the ones that fly and sting!  Hornets, and Bees, and Wasps, oh my!  Seriously, though, these guys can cause a host of problems if you’re not prepared to deal with them.  They are of the order Hymenoptera, and their stings are no joking matter.  When they’ve nested, they pose an even bigger problem.

The largest problem is for people who suffer from hypersensitive reactions to stings.  The venom can cause anaphylactic shock and lead to death.  Primarily, the stings cause redness, pain, and edema (swelling) at the site of injury.  Bee stings further complicate matters in that their stinger is a barbed one that actually pulls out of the abdomen and continues to pulse and pump venom into the wound even though the rest of the bee is not attached to it anymore.


First-aid measures on a bee sting should involve removing the stinger as quickly as possible to prevent the stinger from pumping in more venom.  This can best be accomplished by using a pair of tweezers or carefully using the fingernails.  Wasps and hornets, on the other hand can sting repeatedly, as their stinger is smooth and does not have barbs.  Each sting injects more of their venom.

For those with allergies to any of these insects, immediate action must be taken with a bee sting kit.  There are numerous types on the market.  They involve an immediate subcutaneous dosage of epinephrine, a neurotransmitter used to combat the sting.  Intravenous (IV) therapy at a hospital will probably be needed with more dosages of epinephrine.  Check with your friendly family physician to find out about a bee sting kit for you that you can take with you.  Remember that if you are allergic and stung, you should immediately seek professional medical attention.

Prevention is key

Prevention is the key with these guys, and in your hiking and travels in the woods, remember that you are in their environment and not vice-versa.  JJ is pretty weird, as you already know: he always wears long-sleeved shirts, even in the summertime, for several reasons.  One thing you can do when you’re hiking and susceptible to the stinging insects is to wear protective clothing, such as jeans, hats, and long-sleeved shirts.  Don’t button up so much that you overheat, but be cognizant of the fact that bees and company are very active this time of the year.  Earth tones in your clothing colors are less obnoxious to these insects and less likely to present them with a target.  If you appear to be a daffodil to them, then they’ll visit.

How to survive a swarm attack

wasp nest
When their nests are developing around your home, you need to gauge what you can do in accordance with your susceptibility to their stings and with the size of the nest.  Be advised: even if you aren’t allergic to them, enough of them can kill you if they attack en masse.  The best time to take out the small nest on your back porch is either early in the morning just before sunrise, or after sunset.  The lower temperatures cause them all to swarm in close together to hold in heat and protect the nest.  Their reaction times are greatly diminished.  In addition to this, they hunt and fight by sight, and you have an advantage in times of lowered light levels.

These guys use chemical messengers to communicate called pheromones, and this is the reason that they react so quickly and all together.  For your larger nests (especially hornet nests that can have tens of thousands of insects in them) it is best to call a professional exterminator to alleviate your problem.  Commercial spray cans you can buy over-the-counter are fine and good for the smaller nests, but when one half the size of the Empire State Building suddenly appears under the eaves of your garage…you better call the bug-guy.  (Did you ever notice that one day the nest isn’t there, and then the next day, it’s…it’s there?)

Generally speaking, they are not out to get you.  It is simply important for you to be aware of them.  Your first-aid measures include the old baking soda on the site – to neutralize the acids and toxicity of the venom – along with cleaning it and bandaging it with a loose dressing.  All of these items, and a good bee sting kit should be in your gear when you venture out on your treks.  Remember, the bee sting kit can also be useful for when a person is not normally susceptible to one sting, but they are stung multiple times.  Better safe than sorry, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  So in your travels, stay alert, ready, and prepared.  If they won’t buzz off and leave you alone then you’ll be ready for them if they pose a problem.  “Bee” safe, and keep fighting that good fight!  JJ out!

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on May 24th, 2016