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Remedies For The Sting Of A Bee

If only a few of the host of remedies, so zealously advocated, could be

made effectual, few persons would have much reason to dread being stung.

Most of them, however, are of no manner of use whatever. Like the

prescriptions of the quack, they are absolutely worse than doing nothing

at all.

The first thing to be done after being stung, is to pull the sting out

of the wound _as quickly as possible_. Even a
ter it is torn from the

body of the bee, (see p. 60,) the muscles which control it, are in

active operation, and it penetrates deeper and deeper into the flesh,

injecting continually more and more of its poison into the wound. Every

Apiarian should have about his person, or close at hand, a small piece

of looking-glass, so that he may be able with the least possible delay

to find and remove a sting. In most cases if it is at once removed, it

will produce no serious consequences; whereas if suffered to empty all

its vials of wrath, it may cause great inflammation and severe

suffering. After the sting is removed, the utmost possible care should

be taken, not to irritate the wound by the very _slightest rubbing_.

However intense the smarting, and of course the disposition to apply

friction to the wound, it should never be done, as the poison will at

once be carried through the circulating system, and severe consequences

may ensue. As most of the popular remedies are rubbed in, they are of

course worse than nothing. Be careful not to _suck_ the wound as so many

persons do; this produces irritation in the same way with rubbing. Who

does not know that a musquito bite, even after the lapse of several

days, may be brought to life again, by violent rubbing or sucking? The

moment that the blood is put into a violent and unnatural circulation,

the poison is quickly diffused over a considerable part of the system.

If the mouth is applied to the wound, other unpleasant consequences may

ensue. While the poison of most snakes and many other noxious animals

affects only the circulating system, and may therefore be swallowed with

impunity, the poison of the bee acts powerfully, not only upon the

circulating system, but upon the organs of digestion. The most

distressing head-aches are often produced by it.

From my own experience, I recommend _cold water_ as the very best remedy

with which I am acquainted, for the sting of a bee. It is often applied

in the shape of a plaster of mud, but may be better used by wetting

cloths and holding them gently to the wound. Cold water seems to act in

two ways. The poison of the bee being very volatile, is quickly

dissolved in water; and the coldness of the water has also a powerful

tendency to check inflammation and to prevent the virus from being taken

up by the absorbents and carried through the system. The leaves of the

plantain, crushed and applied to the wound, will answer as a very good

substitute when water cannot at once be procured. The broad-leafed

plantain, or as some call it, "the toad plantain," is regarded by many

as possessing a very great efficacy. Bevan recommends the use of spirits

of hartshorn, applied to the wound, and says that in cases of severe

stinging its internal use is beneficial. Whatever remedy is applied,

should be used if possible, without a moment's delay. The immediate

extraction of the sting, will be found, even if nothing more is done,

much more efficacious than any remedy that can be applied, after it has

been allowed to remain and discharge all its venom into the wound.

It may be some comfort to those who are anxious to cultivate bees, to

know that after a while the poison will produce less and less effect

upon their system. When I first became interested in bees, a sting was

quite a formidable thing, the pain often being very intense, and the

wound swelling so as sometimes to obstruct my sight. At present, the

pain is usually slight, and if I can only succeed in quickly extracting

the sting, no unpleasant consequences ensue, even if no remedies are

used. Huish speaks of seeing the bald head of Bonner, a celebrated

practical Apiarian, lined with bee stings which seemed to produce upon

him no unpleasant effects. Like Mithridates, king of Pontus, he seemed

almost to thrive upon poison itself!

I have met with a highly amusing remedy very gravely propounded by an

old English Apiarian. I mention it more as a matter of curiosity, than

because I imagine that any of my readers will be likely to make trial of

it. He says, let the person who has been stung, catch as speedily as

possible, another bee, and make it sting on the same spot! It requires

some courage even in an enthusiastic disciple of Huber, to venture upon

such a singular homeopathic remedy; but as this old writer had

previously stated that the oftener a person was stung, the less he

suffered from the venom, and as I had proved, in my own experience, the

truth of this assertion, I determined to make trial of his remedy. I

allowed a bee to sting me upon the finger and suffered the sting to

remain until it had discharged all its venom. I then compelled another

bee to insert its sting as near as possible in the same spot. I used no

remedies of any kind, and had the satisfaction, in my zeal for new

discoveries, of suffering more from the pain and swelling, than I had

previously experienced for years.

An old writer recommends a powder of dried bees, for distressing cases

of stoppages; and some of the highest medical authorities have recently

recommended a tea made by pouring boiling water upon bees, for the same

complaint, while the homeopathic physicians employ the poison of the

bee, which they call _apis_, for a great variety of maladies. That it is

capable of producing intense head-aches any one who has been stung, or

who has tasted the poison, very well knows.