The Attacker –
The African Bee (Apis mellifera Scutellata), is an aggressive hard working bee, who produces large crops of honey. They are vital for the pollination of our food supply and flowers but not so good when you happen to upset an entire hive of them.
“Only the Queens are fertile and the worker bees are infertile when the Queen is present. “
Although aggressive the Honey Bee normally only attacks if they think that the hive is under attack.
and our hard work resulted in this:
- Melittin – destroys red blood cells (haemolytic), affects the diameter of blood vessels (vasoactive) and contains cellular anti-membrane properties which damage and weaken the cell walls.
- Phospholipase A and B – which cause disintegration of the cell wall or membrane called “cell membrane lysis”.
- Apamine – is poison which acts on the nervous system ( neurotoxin)
- Mastocytolytic peptide – causes osmotic lysis which happens when a cell bursts due to an osmotic imbalance which has caused too much water to move into a cell (cytolytic – kills cells). It can also cause histamine release.
- Hyaluronidase – causes cells to disintegrate, because the cell wall or membrane ruptures (cell membrane lysis).
The Apitoxin results in the body releasing:
- Histamine – produces many varied effects within the body. Including the contraction of smooth muscle tissues of the lungs, uterus, and stomach; the dilation of blood vessels, which increases permeability and lowers blood pressure; the stimulation of gastric acid secretion in the stomach.
- Dopamine – apart from working on the brain, dopamine causes the “hemodynamic effect” which relates to the flow of blood within the organs and tissues of the body. The availability of oxygen to tissues is also determined by dopamine’s effects on hemodynamic variables. In healthy animals and humans, oxygen causes a temporary increase in blood pressure.
- Minimine – which causes cell membrane lysis as explained above.
A Bee sting will cause you some discomfort with swelling and pain where you were stung. If you are allergic to bee stings or as in “Bee Stings” case, have been stung by many bees your body’s reaction will be far more severe and can result in:
- Generalized anaphylactic responses – this causes symptoms such as extreme swelling, difficulty breathing and even death.
- Serum sickness like symptoms –symptoms are usually mild and shown as skin rashes, joint stiffness, and fever.
- Haemolysis – the rupture or destruction of red blood cells
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation – which is the formation of blood clots in all the small blood vessels
- Rhabdomyolysis – is the destruction of striated muscles
- Acute renal failure – is the abrupt loss of kidney function that develops within 7 days.
As if that wasn’t scary enough, a bad reaction can result in other complications such as: the affected skin dying off (skin necrosis), shock, high blood pressure (Hypertension), the tendency to bleed (Thrombocytopenia) and the destruction of red blood cells (Haemolysis), Pancreatitis, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or even a damaged liver (Hepatopathy)
Remembering all of these facts about what bee stings can do, now think of Bee Sting –
Bee Sting is a female Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) weighing just 8.5kg
Attacker vs Victim
African bees vs Cape Vulture
Apis mellifera Scutellata vs Gyps coprotheres
Males vs Female
220 vs 1
Aggressive vs Docile
Produce honey vs Scavenger
Poor Bee Sting fell from a broken branch, straight onto a bee hive. Looking at it from the bee’s point of view it was terrifying for the safety of their hive. From “Bee Stings” point of view a simple accident became the scariest and possibly deadliest experience of her life. Stung by a swarm of bees, she had very little chance of survival.
The Rescue Team
It is 5 o’ clock on the evening of 23rd of November 2012. Kerri Wolter of VulPro is contacted about Bee Sting and rushes out to rescue her, taking her to the Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital at Onderstepoort, North of Pretoria.
Treating veterinarian Dr Francois Le Grange is the veterinarian on duty and Kerri and Dr Le Grange immediately get to work to save Bee Sting’s life.
Read Bee Sting’s Story – Part Four “Bee Sting’s Treatment Diary” to see how they saved her