September 15, 2017

How does desensitization work?

I keep wondering, why does getting stung by a bee cause an allergy but getting allergy shots fix the allergy? If an injection is the same as a sting, why is the outcome different? In my never-ending quest to understand how sensitization/desensitization works, I found this incredibly educational article, written by a doctor who is also a Master Beekeeper. I need to reread them but I think the answer is in these articles.
Posted with permission of Buddy Marterre, MD.
Bee Stings: Immunology, Allergy and Treatment, a two part series of articles originally published in the American Bee Journal.
"Although it’s part of the business, few of us actually look forward to being stung. As beekeepers we need to know about the various reactions to bee stings and be responsible to ourselves, family, neighbors and friends in regard to bee stings. I hope this article will serve some of those purposes and be informative to both the beginner beekeeper and the most experienced scientist. The first part will cover insects that sting, honey bee stings in particular, bee venom biochemistry, precautions and sting prevention, the management of beekeeping emergencies, and basic immunology and allergy. The second part will cover sting reaction types and treatments, allergy testing and desensitization results, and specific recommendations for beekeepers." Click on the thumbnails to read the rest.
Dr. Marterre requests that you not download his articles without his express written permission. Contact me for his email address.

August 15, 2017

How to make $100 blogging about bees + Backing Up a Bee

BLUF: Use Blogger Sure you can set up a visually beautiful SquareSpace or Tumblr, but when it comes to long format blogging, WordPress and Blogger rule. Both provide free blogging but only Blogger lets you monetize your blog gratis.

Not only that, with (which is very different from, you have to pay a $30 premium annually to run an ad-free blog. One reason to pay the premium is that you have no control over the ads that run, and some of them will go against your principles. The blog I run on WP is for people with MdDS, which most often rears its ugly head after a cruise, and WP kept running cruise line ads because its algorithm understands keywords not meaning.

By default, Blogger does not run ads on your blog, no upcharge involved. It's one of the reasons they've had my loyalty since 2008. Another reason to love Blogger is that through the power of AdSense, also a Google product, when you let ads run you earn money! You can control the size and type of ads that runs, where they appear on your blog, and even do some blacklisting. I don't let pesticide or exterminator ads run on my site, for example. Mostly you only earn pennies per ad, sometimes just one, but if you consistently write quality content and your blog sees regular traffic, the pennies add up. When they add up to $100, Google sends your first payment.

I think I have two readers so it took me 9 years to earn it, but my check is in the mail! Don and Julie, sorry about serving up ads to you. To make it up, for an ad-free future I highly recommend the AdBlock extension. It's free but I like it so much, I've even donated to them – while working in the advertising industry.

Nine years of blogging and 357 posts. That works out to $11.11/year or $3.57 per post. Unfortunately, considering the investment I've made over the years to provide the consistent, quality content mentioned earlier, in reality I'm quadruple digits in the red. The things we do for our bees, right?

Speaking of, here is the long promised video of Marty Hardison administering a live bee sting so that I can get back into the business of keeping bees. I recorded it in slow-motion for you but YouTube is serving it up in real-time. Sorry for that, and for it not being closer in. I was recording with my phone in my left hand and an ice cube in my right. I was able, however, to grab a still of the stinger being ripped out of the bee, which you can see over on IG.

For the record, I don't recommend taking a sting to the calf (or any muscle-y area), but I would not have been able to record a live sting to my bingo wing. The things we do for our readers, right?

I arrived at Marty's house confident that 4 years of allergy shots had lowered my venom sensitivity and indeed, initially, I had very little reaction. No pain, no itching, barely a welt. A few hours later had a bit of a cankle. This is classic of a late phase reaction but this type of swelling is considered "large local" or in other words no systemic reaction. Yay! I'm so close to keeping bees again, I can taste it. And of course it tastes sweet.

I'm pretty sure the swelling was because a) not enough fatty tissue to delay the venom reaction, b) we stared at the stinger after it was autotomized for a few seconds, then c) we did the one thing you're supposed to not do, and that was squeeze the venom sack that was left in my leg so I got a big dose of venom. A honeybee sting normally delivers 0.05 ml (sometimes written 50 μl) of venom but the venom sac has a capacity of up to 0.1 ml.1

Marty also put together some bees-to-go using queen cages but I think I'm going to set them free. Combining my experience with VIT with how allergists are being advised to cope with the venom shortage, and the seemingly obvious fact that fresh venom is more potent than reconstituted venom, I'm going to wait two months between live stings.