It was midmorning, cool but not cold and at the end of the Oil Seed Rape flowering time. I had so much to get done that day, including a 6-hour evening shift at the local hospital as a nursing assistant. Two hives in a field nearby needed their top supers taking off and replacing with empty ones. I put on my bee suit and veil, gloves of course, and readied the smoker. I have an excellent pair of Wellington boots that protect my ankles. (You know the sort - green with buckles on the side, usually associated with horses!) Why didn’t I put them on, instead of going to the bees in my leather Jodhpur boots with the big elastic side panels?
I had saved all of three minutes of my precious time.
Well! It was too cool, too early in the day, the Rape flower was going over, and the bees were unhappy. I smoked the hive lifted off the lid and top super, putting it down gently on the ground, by my feet and carried on beekeeping. ……. OUCH!
The super hadn’t cleared properly, (it happens) and now the bees were ANGRY! They came out of there like demons straight from hell and went for my ankles. I must have been stung twenty times on each leg, (Clever things found the soft elastic panels, and there was no stopping them).
Now I’m brave when it comes to bees, but not that brave. I quickly replaced everything and started to walk away, and then this funny feeling came over me. The world became a crazy place, the trees were taking walks, the birds shrieking like banshees, the sky seemed upside down and why was my hair itching? My tongue was wooden, my skin bright red and my legs belonged to somebody else. Home was a million miles away, but somehow I got there, feeling worse and worse - when did I eat the concrete block that was now resting happily in my stomach, and why did I feel like the day of doom was five minutes away?
I fought the weird feeling for half an hour, telling myself it would soon pass, getting up, sitting down, stumbling around. I don’t really remember that much. Eventually l suggested to an interested bystander that maybe a trip to my local hospital would be a good idea, my friends and colleagues there would understand, pat me on the head, make sympathetic noises and even give me a cup of tea.
They are very nice!
Off we went, with me pretending I was okay really, just a bit off colour, I may work in a hospital but I don’t like them - not when I am on the receiving end. At least the trip was uneventful, no blue lights, two tone horns, guns blazing, but I seem to remember some of the bends were taken at rather a high speed, and a disembodied voice kept saying over and over again,
“Are you all right?” Of course I was!………
We arrived at the hospital with a screech of brakes and flying gravel, I yelled at the driver (in a sort of slurred and muffled whisper), something about lousy driving skills, and stumbled out to our Minor Injuries department.
I met Sister at the door (the Boss!),
“I’ve been stung by my bees,” I said trying to make light of it, and then the balloon went up!
The next thing I knew I was on the casualty bay trolley, shaking. The hospital heating must be defunct my silly mind said, as my teeth chattered like Spanish castanets, my limbs shook and the lights above my head flickered and danced, changing from cute and fluffy clouds of soft light, to vicious lances of frosty starlight.
The Doctor was called who came hot foot, my mates were peering round the door looking worried, and the whole blanket cupboard managed to end up on top of my rattling bones. There then followed a number of needles in rather embarrassing places, (I know! They are nursing staff and used to it, but HEY! I have to work with these guys!), and I was admitted (Kidnapped!) into the hospital, where I was forced stay for a couple of hours. (Muttering!)
Once the drugs took effect I was quickly back to normal (??) and became a real pain to the staff, pestering them to let me go home - I had a wardrobe to move, and there was still that bucket of honey to bottle………….
My anaphylactic shock is consigned to memory now, but now my honey shed is decorated with a laminated sheet of paper upon which is emblazoned a message just for me: -
And my beekeepers toolbox consists of hive tool, spacers, queen marker paint, queen cage, steroid injection, anti-histamine pills and creams, mobile phone, Last Will and Testament! etc etc!
By Rusty Wise. 2004.
This article has been fictionalised, and written purely for entertainment, however, Anaphylactic Shock can very serious, if not lethal.
I was very fortunate in as much as I did not react too badly (and that was bad enough!) therefore, it must be stressed that if you feel any adverse symptoms after being stung,
YOU MUST seek immediate medical advice.
DO NOT do what I did and try to fight the shock.
This is vital advice and should not be ignored.