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Summer Worker Tangles with Bees

Safety Alert

By Forest Resources Assn.
Date Posted: 6/1/2006


      On a warm summer day in the Lake States region, a forest technician was marking boundary lines with a paint brush and a can of paint.

Personal Characteristics

      The technician, in his 20s, was marking boundary lines as a summer job to help pay for college. He was wearing jeans, t-shirt and a baseball-style cap.

Unsafe Act or Condition

      While re-marking trees along a boundary line where the paint was badly faded, there appeared to be an unpainted gap between two known boundary points. Very old fencing could be found in some trees and posts, indicating the tract boundary. The technician kicked over a ‘post’ on the ground, looking for old fencing, and disturbed a nest of yellow jackets.


      The bees attacked the intruder as he ran from the scene.


      The technician was stung multiple times as he fled and also suffered numerous scratches as he ran through a raspberry thicket.


      Foresters and loggers should take the following precautions to avoid bee stings, especially during the warmer hours of the day from July-September:


1. Wear light colored clothing, which attracts fewer insects than dark clothing.

2. Avoid perfumed slaps, shampoos and deodorants.

3. Avoid bananas and banana-scented toiletries.

4. Wear clean clothing and bathe daily; sweat ‘angers’ stinging insects.

5. Cover the body as much as possible with clothing.


      If you or someone with you is stung, you should:

A. Flee the scene as quickly and carefully as possible; stinging insects release a chemical when they sting, alerting others.

B. Wash the affected area with soap and water.

C. Scrape the stinger out of the wound — never squeeze or pull out the stinger.

D. Apply ice to reduce swelling.

E. Do not scratch; that will cause the wound to itch more, increasing the chance of infection.

F. Over-the-counter medications containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can help alleviate swelling and itching.

      Caution — Allergic reactions to bee and insect stings kill 40-50 people annually in the U.S. People with known allergies to insect stings should wear a medical ID bracelet and carry an insect allergy kit where appropriate. Common allergic symptoms may include: swelling that moves to other parts of the body (especially the face and neck), difficulty breathing, wheezing, dizziness or drop in blood pressure. Seek medical attention immediately if any of these symptoms are present.


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