Bill Mondjack keeps honey bees - one of the most common stinging insects there is. Mondjack said, "When I first started back in 1980, I used to get stung on my ankles or on my hands and my hands would swell up, like the skin would be all stretched out and swollen up, my ankles would swell up."
It may not sound like it, but he's lucky. some people are allergic to the bee venom and have more serious reactions, like trouble breathing. Dr. Rob Danoff said, "Within 5, 10 minutes you may start to notice that you're starting to get real tight. Maybe you're coughing a little bit. You're starting to notice a little bit of wheezing."
That can be life-threatening and needs quick medical attention. But it's not the only emergency situation. Danoff said, "If you are bitten or stung in your mouth, on your lip, on top, you know, inside your mouth or on your eye, you definitely want to go to the emergency room because those reactions can progress quickly."
Fortunately, for most of us, stings from bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets don't cause serious problems. Dr. Danoff said, "It can hurt. It can sting, but just local care is usually what we do."
Mondjack said, "A honey bee stinger, if it's left behind, the first thing you want to do is scrape the stinger out with your fingernail and get rid of it so it stops pumping venom into the site."
Then wash the area and apply a cold compress for pain. If you get stung on a hand or foot:
Danoff said, "First thing to do is remove any rings right away cause your hand's gonna' swell and we can't get those rings off and it can cause some circulation problems." See a doctor if you develop an infection or you're not up to date on your tetanus shots. believe it or not, insects can transfer bacteria from the soil to your skin.
Danoff said, "What they can do is they can get this bacteria on their stinger and if they sting you, they inject it into you." Prevention is key. Avoid wearing colorful clothes and perfumes that attract bees. Try to stay away from areas where insects hang out. Dr. Danoff said, "hornets tend to have nests in trees and bushes. Yellow jacks in the soil, so be aware. So if you're walking around barefoot in the grass or around shrubs, maybe you oughta' put some shoes on."
You don't have to tell that to Howard Kirshner. As a landscaper, he's been stung plenty. His tip? Watch the clock. Kirshner said, "We just try to avoid it until the right time of day. We find if you can go in early in the morning or later in the day we can, you know, insects are usually less active."
Remember, insects watch out for each other, so swatting not a good idea. Dr. Danoff said, "They send off these chemicals that attract their comrades to come to help them. They think they're under attack. The best thing we can do is we see them, we try to just move away." If you don't bug them, they won't bug you.
Once a honey bee stings you, it dies. However, wasps and hornets can sting multiple times. If you're allergic, an epipen or twinject with a self-injectable medicine can improve breathing and reverse hives and swelling. You can also wear a medical bracelet to alert others of your allergy.