Can you keep bees if allergic?

breezynosacek(7VA)August 27, 2004

I'm allergic to bees but I love the honey. I grow a nice garden every year and we have a bit of land.

Is anyone that is allergic to bees stupid/brave enough to try and raise them? I'd like to try if it is possible.

The hornets or some other problem that I am not aware of have killed all of the honey bees in the area. I'm wondering if it has anything to do with the genetically altered stuff? I don't know.

I've got a good supply of bumblebees in the area and they aren't vicious. I haven't been stung but I don't think they make honey.

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TRLambert(4/5 Maine)

By allergic, do you mean anaphylactic (sp?) or just get swelling and itchiness after being stung?

If anaphylactic, I'd stay away, even with an epi-pen. It's just too risky. . . and no matter how much you cover up, you will get stung. I've kept bees now for 4 years, and although I haven't been stung this year, I have in the past. You just never know when you'll get it.

If your allergies are just to the point of swelling or hives, you should be OK. Not fun to get stung, but won't kill you.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 10:45AM
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Hey Tim,

Well, I got stung on the toe as a child and it swelled up past my ankle and my foot was about as big as half a full sized football, but I didn't have trouble breathing.

As an adult, I got stung in my sleep by a yellow jacket landing on my collar bone and I smacked it in my sleep.

I swelled up so bad I had trouble breathing and had to use an inhaler all day to keep my breathing opened up.

I've never gone into shock that I am aware of. But the swelling didn't take long.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 11:02AM
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TRLambert(4/5 Maine)

You might want to check with your family physician. . . they would probably be better suited to tell you if they thought your history would support beekeeping.

Good luck. . . it's a greaty hobby if you can do it!


    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 12:14PM
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I'm not even going to think about trying it until we get these hornets out of here. I think they are what killed the bees.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 1:32PM
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Hornets don't kill bees, unless they are those Japanes hornets like in Japan. Even the most aggressive nhornets here in the East might take a honeybee or 2, but the dearth wild honeybees (A. melifera) is due to 2 factors mostly. Do a search on varroa mites, that is what devastated the honeybees in this country. That and the tracheal mites. Remember when Am. foulbrood was thought to be such a problem? Ah for the good old days.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 9:03PM
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Unfortunately what we have are the Japanese Giant Hornets. I've never seen something so big in my life! Hubby went to a neighbors and said that I was complaining about the hornets. I couldn't hang laundry or move about the yard without them buzzing me. The fellow told him that it was the Japanese Hornet. Hubby killed one with the freezing bug spray brought it in and compared it to the pictures online. Definite match.

Normally, in the past two years, we've had a couple flying around and no problem.

This year we are surrounded with them and there is a strange absence of honey bees and the standard wasp (those brown skinny ones).

I didn't notice anything funny other than it seemed like everywhere I turned around it seemed there was a hornet buzzing me. There is construction going on a couple of acres away. Over in a heavily wooded area. You hear bull dozers and stuff going on every day now.

Well, when I went to try and pick pears I realized that we are polluted with them and then looked up at the eave of the shed next to the pear tree and they are all up there too.

These suckers look like they belong in a horror movie.

We got a bug zapper last night from a neighbor and they went to it like crazy but a lot of them would get stuck in the grid and fry. Some managed to crawl up through the bottom. I saw a lot of maimed ones laying on the ground today. Evidently, they got partially zapped and now they can't do much and a couple are on their backs kicking. I'm hoping the chickens were able to peck them.

Hubby is not much afraid of any of these suckers, but after reading about them online he has become super cautious. Neither one of us could outrun them if they decided to become angry. He has a bad heart and I have bad knees. Besides, I don't know if a human can run 25 miles an hour.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 10:14AM
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Well if you have the Japanese Hornets you should report them immediately because that would be the first time they are found wild in the US. See websites below.
For a piece on European Hornets

Here is a link that might be useful: Japanes Hornets and their range

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 4:56PM
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This is what ours look like, it is the Japanese Hornet, isn't it? And as far as I know they have been in VA for a couple of years according to the old timers around here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Giant Asian Hornet

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 10:04AM
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If you are sure of the ID, you really should report them. Take a picture or capture a specimen and contact the folks below. One site is specifically for the decline of pollinators, including bees. If you are going by "the old timers say..." and this is what they look like, without having one on hand to compare, then the ID isn't worth the paper it isn't printed on. But if you are cetain, you need to report them. Below are some sites. Many people identify the European Hornet as the Japanese one, but if the hornets you are finding are 1 1/2 inches or less, then they aren't the Japanese ones. Also, I repeat, they are not the reason honeybees have all but vanished from the wild.

is an e-mail address to contact people at the Dept. of the Interior who monitor this stuff.

Here is a link that might be useful: Decline of Pollinators

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 6:41PM
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Okay, I'll get hubby to pick a couple up that got zapped.

I've recognized that there are different sizes within this swarm and they seem to have a little different body types/wing size. I guess they have different jobs.

The largest ones, I don't know if either one of us has the courage to try and get. One landed a couple of feet away from us one evening and it looked like something that should have been in a horror show. It was over 2 inches in length.

I keep telling hubby, you watch, they keep messing with this genetically altered stuff and they are going to create some monster messes they won't know how to get rid of.

As for the Bumble Bee problems listed on that sight link? That's the only thing we have plenty of. In fact we encourage it. We leave lumber for them to bore into and we don't disturb it. I've been growing sunflowers for them and they seem to appreciate that.

When we first bought this place a couple of years ago, there were mostly wasps and just a few bumble bees. Now, we have a nice bunch of bumble bees around and it is good to see.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2004 at 8:26AM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

A good allergist is the person to see about allegies. As reactions as a child are not indicative of the risk to the same person as an adult, a supervised test sting is in order. If the child sting just brought on a childhood asthma attack for example, and the adult has no asthmatic problems, it could be a simple determination.

And, there are plenty of cases of people with a true allergy being treated by an allergist, and curing the allergy.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2004 at 11:56AM
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SteveInNC(Zone 6-1/2)

With a true allergy to bees, the answer to your question is no, don't keep bees.

You haven't described a true allergy to bees, though. Most everybody has had swelling from a bee sting, particularly when younger. When you have swelling in an area away from the sting (get stung foot, arm or neck swelling, for example), then you have a problem. If you have throat constriction, very dangerous.

I have an epinephrine pen, a way to inject epinephrine in case of an allergic reaction. It's a life saving device. I'm not allergic, but I still have it, because I'd hate to not have it and need it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 10:21PM
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I am allergic to bees, wasps, and hornets. I have an epi-pen in my purse, my car, my drawer at work, my husband's car, over at my Dad's house, and also here at home in the kitchen.

I provide habitat for Mason Bees and have never been bitten yet. They are an incredibly non aggressive species.

I also provide plants specifically for all of my bumblebees. I love those bumbles. They are oblivious to me when I work in and around them.

I don't want to die and accidents do happen so epi-pens are the best solution for me.

I love bees, I admit it. Anaphylaxis is serious. If you are allergic, either don't play with fire or talk to your doctor who can write you an Rx.

That being said, get yourself some bees!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 1:43AM
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Always a good topic to renew.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 3:12PM
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