As I was with an apprentice at the Community Gardens at the Incline on Portland preparing our kit to open the hives and take some honey, a pair of small boys approached, looking a bit distressed.  My apprentice who is a (grand)motherly body asked them what was up. One of them had been multiply stung by wasps when they had been hunting slow worms.  We could see about 4 places on his arm where there was swelling and reddening. There were no stings left in and their description of the insects matched wasps so that’s what they were and not bees.

I suggested, as a placebo, (without telling them so!) using dock leaves on the stings as is traditionally done with nettle stings. Yvonne soon found some and applied them to the stings. Pain and tears ceased rapidly and the boys went on their way, having told us where the incident had happened so we could deal with the wasps.

We went up to the hives and put a clearer board under 2 very full supers on a National.  We then went through the top bar hive, slicing off into clean plastic bags 3 lovely combs which we later turned into 16 cartons of cut comb ready for sale.  In the process, Yvonne got a sting on the leg, through her clothing.  When we got back to the shed and were ungarbing I suggested that we try a dock leaf on her sting.  It worked!  So it can’t be just the placebo effect.

I remember once reading that dock leaves contain anti-histamine.  That may be so, but how does something applied to the outside of the skin have an effect on a poison that has been injected?

YVONNE WROTE:  I’ll let you off the grandmother remark as I am one. The leaves worked for a while Chris, certainly took the pain away but unfortunately the cure was short lasted as during the night the bite began to itch and swell and is really painful now…. will be trying other remedies later.

So it seems as if the effect of dock leaves on stings is temporary.  That’s reasonable as few medicines cure in just one application.  I think Yvonne intends to find more dock leaves and tape them in place.


About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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