Bee, Wasp and Hornet

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Bee Stings

Although known for their role in pollination and producing honey, bees can become a threat to homeowners when they build their hives near or inside homes. Bees are considered less dangerous than other stinging insects like wasps. In Malaysia, bees like honey bees and carpenter bees seldom sting unless they are provoked. However there are aggressive species such as the Africanized honey bees that will sting humans in large numbers, fortunately we’ve yet to spot any of them here.

Bee stings have the potential for an allergic reaction, resulting in anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical assistance and can even cause death.

Wasp Stings

Like the bee, a wasp sting is a form of defence. If wasps feel threatened or if their nest is disturbed it makes them very aggressive and provokes them to sting.

  • A sting by a social or common wasp (also known as a yellow jacket) is a painful experience. It can be very upsetting and frightening for young children.

  • Wasp stings may even be life threatening to people allergic to the poison in stings. This allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis.

  • People who have been stung several times previously and have become sensitised are more likely to suffer this systemic reaction.

  • The good news is that this type of allergic reaction is rare and it is even rarer for it to be fatal.

Tips to Avoid Stings

  • Do not panic - If you find there are wasps nearby keep calm and move slowly away.

  • Do not scream, flap your arms or swat them - This will just agitate them and make them more aggressive.

  • Avoid strong, sweet smells - Do not use highly perfumed fragrances, shampoos, hair sprays.

  • Avoid bright colours - Do not wear bright, bold floral patterns on clothes and bags, which could attract wasps.

  • Avoid orchards - Or any soft fruit plants and even uncovered bins, where wasps gather seeking food.

  • Avoid open drinks - If drink cans or bottles are left unattended, it may encourage wasps to crawl inside.

  • Cover food and drink - Always keep food and drink covered when eating outdoors to deter wasps.

  • Stay clean - Ensure children’s hands/faces are cleaned after eating sweet foods/drinks.

Treatments for Wasp Stings

It is difficult to know how you might react to a wasp sting, if you have never been stung before. There are some practical things you can do to help with any pain you might feel

  • Use a cold compress such as an ice-pack or cold flannel.
  • Take painkillers to soothe any pain.
  • Take antihistamine tablets to reduce any swelling around the sting.
  • If you are in any doubt about a wasp sting please consult a doctor or medical professional.

If someone has the following symptoms after being stung, immediately call for an ambulance:

  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • vomiting
  • nausea or diarrhoea
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • swollen face or mouth
  • problems swallowing

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