Sting Prevention

Mary Tweed
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As the flowers burst forth in Spring, bringing colour and joy to our Nordic Walks, out come the bees and wasps, bringing slightly less joy and occasional pain. Whilst I appreciate the hard work carried out by bees and the vital role that they play in ensuring our countryside is a fertile environment, I am happy to admire them from afar and wish to keep them at arms (or pole’s) length.

How to Avoid a Sting

As we know from school biology lessons, bees and wasps are attracted to the bright colours and sweet scents of flowers, promising a source of delicious nectar. Therefore, one easy step to take is to avoid wearing bright (particularly floral) clothes and instead opt for neutral white / beige/ khaki. For the same reasons, it is wise to avoid strong scented soap / perfume/ shampoo. It may be flattering to be compared to a summer’s day by Shakespeare, but when that is the opinion of a bee or a wasp it is both ominous and an irritant.

Covering the skin by wearing long sleeved tops and trousers reduces the chances of a nasty sting, as does wearing closed toe shoes rather than sandals; bees can often be spotted amongst clover and do not appreciate being trod on whilst going about their business. Another tip is to tie up long hair, as entanglement can lead to multiple stings from a wasp. Bees can only sting once, as they leave their stinger in the skin of their victim.

Finally, it is important to remain calm and resist the temptation to swat the wasp or bee away, as this only serves to increase the likelihood of being stung.

How to Treat a Sting

If you have been stung by a bee, carefully remove the stinger from your skin. For both types of sting, try and wash the area with soap and water as soon as you can, then apply a cold compress and, if possible, raise the area affected to reduce swelling.

In some cases a more severe reaction takes place. If any of the following symptoms appear, the person stung is probably experiencing an allergic reaction and will require immediate medical attention: - Wheezing - Swollen face, neck or throat - Feeling dizzy - Nausea - Difficulty swallowing

Most people with a known allergy will carry an epipen or anti histamine pills with them during the summer period, but there may be some members of your group with an undiagnosed allergy, so it is always worth being extra vigilant if someone has been stung.

Hopefully your summer walks will be sting free and you can make the most of the wonderful weather to stride out with your poles and enjoy the Suffolk Countryside.

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