Jonathan: When we first got bees, more than two years ago now, I got stung and reacted very badly – painful swelling that spread over the body and on one occasion virtually immobilized me for at least a fortnight. After several visits to the doctor, it became apparent that bee stings provoked my immune system to go into overdrive. For some such a reaction can be fatal, and after one occasion when the doctor had to come round to the house to inject a huge dose of steroids, I was asked whether it might be wiser to give up the bees. Fortunately I soon discovered that taking two anti-histamine tablets immediately on being stung prevented any reaction. Until the other day. I had unwisely started a ‘quick’ check on one hive when one bee stormed angrily out of the hive and went straight for my wrist and gave me a sting that would make me think again before disturbing the bees at their work! It hurt so much – immediately – that I went into a bit of a panic. I took the tablets as usual, but the pain continued and it was obvious I was reacting. I took two more tablets an hour later, but no effect – the redness and swelling was spreading fast and my heart rate was up and my mind spinning. After three or four hours and no sign of improvement, the surgery was long since closed for the weekend, and I had no choice but to phone for emergency help. After wasted time with NHS24 and answering services that didn’t answer, I phoned A&E at the hospital in Benbecula and they said come right over and we’ll do something. So down north we went, Denise driving, into the hospital … the treatment was steroids … as tablets. What an anti-climax. Anyway, it was obvious with a half hour or so they were doing the trick: 30 tablets and a couple of days later and I was back to normal. But why the over-reaction when normally I’m fine? I now suspect that the key is to remain calm when stung. When I discovered that anti-histamines worked, it reassured me and I remained very calm when stung, just carefully pulling out the sting and taking the tablets – then resuming my work. But for some reason this time I panicked – just as I did when stung when we first had bees. I believe the panicking sets off the adrenalin, and that excites the immune system to over-react. Not a theory I’m particularly keen to put to a rigourous programme of testing!