How Many Stings Does It Take?

Last night I divided 1 ½ gallons of 1:1 sugar syrup mixed with 3/8 cup (90ml) of Don’s Brood Builder between the (4) hives at Dr.D’s place. I went out after work with just a veil so I got stung… again. However, unlike last Friday when I got stung(4) times or Sunday when I got stung (9) times (on my arm which swelled up so much that I had to remove my watch), this week there is almost no swelling – nor was there any real swelling on my chin where I got stung the day before.

This begs the question: How many stings does it take to build up immunity?

I found the answer on the New Scientist website:
High doses of bee venom early in the year block a normally potent immune reaction for the remainder of the season, says Mübeccel Akdis, an immunologist at University of Zurich in Switzerland, who led the study.”
It also says, “After an average of 13 stings a week, beekeepers quickly desensitise to the bees’ barb, which delivers a large dose of several venoms, including a membrane-busting protein called phospholipase A.”

The study concluded that the immunity wears off in the winter and so the cycle is repeated each year.
So here is an update on my Hives:
I ordered one VSH Queen back in January from Johnny Thompsonin Philadelphia, MS. He was very nice in my first emails and agreed to let me pick the queen up so I could bend his ear (Pickup was scheduled for the first week of April). I scheduled a day off from work for March 31st to get the apiary ready. However, I sent him two emails over the past couple of weeks to confirm the time but he never replied.

I only ordered one queen so I knew I was a low priority but not responding was just rude. Nevertheless, low and behold, I got a phone call from Philadelphia last night. Johnny apparently hadn’t gotten my emails and was calling to let me know he had three extra queens and that if I wanted them I could pick them up Friday (the 31st).

So now I can make three easy splits – one of which I will be taking to my home in town. This will be my breeder stock. Having a hive at home will make grafting queens much easier. I am sure I will screw up a lot but this will allow me to practice every few days – and practice makes perfect.

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