I don't want to be the one to pull the Health and Safety card but it is important to remember that you will be working with upwards of 50,000 stinging insects so I thought I would pass on my tips on trying to stay safe.
Firstly, I do need to say that you will get stung at some point. In my early days I was advised to get a sting as soon as possible, preferably before taking on a hive. You do need to know how your body will react to the bee venom. For many, a sting is the start of a 3-4 day period of itchiness. For a few there is just some redness. But at the opposite extreme is the dreaded anaphylactic shock.
I fall into the first group, but as I rack up my sting total so the effects are gradually reducing. But here's what I do to keep safe:
- I always use full protection; full bee suit, jeans, hoodie, wellies, gloves. I'm not proud.
- I always tell my significant other when I'm going to a hive.
- I always carry a mobile phone in a pocket where I can quickly get to it.
- I always have ready access to anti-histamine in some form, cream or pill.
- I carry a mist sprayer filled with water, sugar solution, or cider vinegar.
- I have a plan, do it and then close up.
- most importantly, I focus on the job in hand; the rest of the world fades away.
Remember, bees don't like rough handling, banging, or sharp movements. So take your time and enjoy the moment. If you stay calm then they will generally let you work with them.
Bees are wild. We give them access to a home, help them to reproduce, charge some rent in the spring and summer and leave them in peace to do their own thing. Working with them is so rewarding at many levels and with a few simple, common sense precautions staying safe won't be an issue to worry about.