An insight to the addicting world of beekeeping

Uncategorized

Allergic vs. reactions – are you allergic to bee stings?

Too often people tell me that they love honeybees but they are allergic to bee stings. Later in the conversation I find out there was a big misunderstanding of what they thought they were actually allergic to. The descriptions of what happens when they are stung by a honeybee is the same reactions that most people experience.

Bee stings swell the next day

Bee stings swell
A honey bee stinging someone. Notice the stinger is stuck in the person’s finger.

Keep in mind not everyone has the same reaction, however, there are reactions to bee stings. The reason being that when a honeybee stings you, within the first 10 seconds, their venom is pumped into your body. Over time, some beekeepers may experience less of a reaction.

The fact that people know there’s venom pumping into their body may create more of a psychological issue more so than an actual reaction.

I’m told by many that the location of where they are stung swells up the next day and it is very itchy. I, too, have the same reaction to a honeybee sting. The bee stings you, you remove the stinger from the affected area and the next day that sting is red, itchy and swollen. Usually the symptoms reside within a few days.

Severe allergic reactions

Every so often I come across a person who tells me they actually have a real allergic issue with bee stings. Their throat closes up within minutes of the bee sting or their tongue is also swollen. In these scenarios, yes that person is allergic to bee stings.

As time goes by, even beekeepers who were not allergic to bee stings, aside from the usual reactions, may become allergic as they are around honeybees and are stung more often. Each bee sting becomes progressively worse each time they are faced with a sting.

Wasp stings vs bee stings

I think another misunderstanding is what kind of insect the person was stung by. Some may say they are allergic to bees when the reaction they encountered was from a wasp. Even though both of these insects are considered to be “bees,” they do not have the same venom and do not share the same reaction.

A wasp sting produces different reactions from a honeybee sting. Some wasp stings may hurt longer and continue to hurt for a few days, whereas, honeybee stings may hurt for a minute or two but become very itchy the next day.

Talk to a doctor if you are concerned

Several people say they share the same love for honeybees and would give anything to be able to contribute to society in the quest to save honeybees, if only they didn’t have this allergic problem. If anything else, consult with a doctor to see if your symptoms are indeed reason for concern.

Have any Question or Comment?

28 comments on “Allergic vs. reactions – are you allergic to bee stings?

So it’s time to retire if you develop a real allergic reaction! I was unaware that was a possibility to develop such a severe condition. I was thinking it would be the exact opposite where after a long period of time you would become immature to the venom similar to the movie princess bride where he built up a tolerance to the poison he drank.

Reply
Randi

I liked the Princess Bride reference! Every person is different. Some people can have the complete opposite happen as well. But it’s always best to know if it’s an actual reaction or not.

Reply
levi downing

I have to commend you for choosing to write a article on this subject. i feel that it is important to assuage the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding bee’s and in particular honey bee’s. thank you for this article.

Reply
Randi

Thank you! It’s my goal to make people aware of the differences and bring an appreciation for honeybees everywhere.

Reply

Randi,
I have never had a bad reaction to bee stings, I do get a bad reaction to any wasp sting, there is a difference. This comes from a 5 year old trying to knock a bag out of a tree with rocks, yes this was me.
Most of the time if you do not constrict a Honey Bee it will not sting you, they may just sit on your arm with no reaction.
The Honey Bee is so important to my garden during the summer, I will not use any chemicals on my yard to make sure that I do not harm them.
In pulling the stinger out, should you use something that does not squeeze the venom sack, this could produce a bigger does of venom.
John

Reply
Randi

Hello John, I am so thrilled to hear that you appreciate that you do not use chemicals on your yard and that you see that they really are quite docile. Regarding pulling the stinger out, you want to get it out as fast as you can. You’re right, if you pull it out, you take a risk of squeezing the venom into you even faster. I find it’s best to scratch it off as fast as you can. Sometimes it works but again it depends on how quickly you can get to it. Honeybee stingers pump venom into your body within the first 10 seconds.

Reply
Ennymatics

I think everyone feels the same reaction to bee stings except for the fact that it leaves us with a painful, sore and swollen spot which everyone may consider as allergy. However, I think there should be laid down symptoms for bee stings to know if its allergy or a mere reaction so as to treat it properly.

Reply
Randi

Thank you and I agree! I also wanted people to be aware that not only are there reactions when you’re stung but there’s also a difference between a wasp and a bee sting.

Reply
Stella

I have no allergies to bee sting but I do have a friend who does. There is a time we almost lost him due to his allergy if not for the medic that have experienced similar issues and quickly helped him out. His allergy was kind of unique from all I’ve seen, when stung by bee, he looses feeling to that stung area for a some minutes then his face will start swelling up. Sometimes I feel like it doesn’t add up but I think people reacts differently according to their body system. Thanks for this writeup and giving us the chance to share experiences to help others. 

Reply
Randi

Oh wow! I’m glad that he was able to make it through. You’re right people do have different reactions and unfortunately some people have bad experiences with them. Thank you for your response!

Reply
Aweda Olakunle

Hi Randi, 

Thansk for elaborating on the misconception. I have always been scared of getting bee stings and though I have got some. I find out i react to some stings while I do not to some others. What could be the cause of this, are their levels of stings that your body could have a reaction to or could this be because it was either  a wasp or a bee that stung me? Thanks for this insight

Reply
Randi

Those are excellent questions! You are right that some may have been from wasps instead of honeybees. There was a time where I had less of a reaction to a honeybee sting because I was able to pull the stinger out a lot quicker. Whereas other stings were worse because it took me a bit to get it out and the venom continued to pump into my body. But I haven’t had the exact same reaction every time. I hope this helped answer your question a little bit. 

Reply
Olalekan

Thanks for sharing an article on bẹẹ sting. Just like you stated that some people may misinterpret wasp to bee sting. My question is what health benefits does bee sting has on the body? Because I was told that bẹẹ stings improve the immune system the more after the sting. Is this true? 

Reply
Randi

Excellent question. I have heard the same things too. But I think that it isn’t true for everyone. Some of my family have stated that their arthritis didn’t hurt for a few days after a bee sting. I think this is a topic worth researching for me. I appreciate your insight and response!

Reply
Ola

This is a lovely post and i must say its an eye opener for me because i got to know most things i dont know before now. I have some questions which I would appreciate if you can provide answers to it.

Is there any negative effect when venom is pumped into the body through bees?

How can we send bees away from our surroundings

Reply
Randi

Thank you for your response and questions! To answer your first one, not everyone will have the same reaction. Usually with honeybees, I experience swelling, redness and it itches. However, it only lasts a couple of days. Wasp stings are different and have different reactions. To answer your second question, for honeybees I would not recommend trying to send them away from your surroundings because they serve such a great purpose in pollinating plants and helping out our ecosystem. I hope this helps answer your questions. 

Reply
Hi Tony

Thanks for sharing this wonderful article on bee stings.. It’s rare to come across a writer on publish quality content of Bees and Bees stings.This information is really helpful. I’m not allergic and never wish that for myself. My point of view from this article is that if you’re allergic to Bees. Then quit and get another hustle. It’s that simple. Thanks once more for sharing this piece of information. Cheer’s

Reply
Randi

Thank you! I appreciate your comment. Bees are absolutely fascinating! I think if I were ever allergic to bees, it would be hard to give up the hobby just because of the passion I have for it. But then it may depend on how severe of an allergy it was. Thank you again!

Reply
ajibola40

Thanks for writing this article on bee,it so educative 

when a honeybee stings you for the first time it very painful while the second time honeybee stings you, it less painful than the first one and over time it will will be less effective.because have experience it before,but either ways it is advisable to visit the doctor 

Reply
Randi

I agree. Being a beekeeper, I’ve been stung several times and each time the reactions are less and less. However, it can have the opposite effect sometimes. Rare, but it can happen. 

Reply
Connor

I’m lucky to say that I’ve never had any adverse reactions to bee stings beyond what normally happens.  I live in the northeast US so I don’t even get to see bees very often.

I have great respect for honeybees and how they contribute to the ecosystem but I can’t stand wasps.  Those are some evil little buggers for sure.

Great job on the article, Randi.  It’s concise and straight to the point.

Reply
Randi

Thank you so much! I also do not like wasps! But honeybees sure are a treasure. It’s sad that you don’t get to see them very often. 

I appreciate your response! 

Reply
Festus

Thank you for these clarifications. We love honey…smiles, and very many love the bees too, except for the stingsI used to think everyone was allergic to bee stings, but you’ve just shown that reactions are different, and that repeated exposure to stings is actually responsible for some severe allergic reactions to bee stingsThis has been truly enlightening, thanks a lot, hope to come around some other time.

Reply
Randi

I’m thrilled to see it has enlightened you! Yes, each person can experience either hardly any reaction over time or others it worsens. Each person is completely different. But the good news is that for the most part honeybees are very docile creatures! Thank you for your reply!

Reply
Michele

Hi Randi – very interesting article about being allergic to bee stings vs just having a reaction to one.  I am not allergic to bee stings, however, my Mom had a very severe allergic reaction once.  She was stung by several bees and ended up in the hospital because she couldn’t breathe.  Now I’m saying bees, but they may have been wasps, I’m not sure.

Thank you for this information,

Michele

Reply
Randi

Oh man, that is terrible to hear. There are some down sides to being a beekeeper and getting stung is one of them. You’re right though, they could’ve been wasps too. Those buggers are very mean.

Reply
Henry

Hi Randi! I really don’t have any allergic reaction to bee stings, thankfully. But I have loved ones that do. So, I want to learn as much as I can about this topic. And I have found your post very useful. The synthons I have seen in my family are that their throat closes up within minutes of the bee sting. And you have stated that this indeed could be considered a severe allergic reaction.

I have also learnt that the reactions that follow a bee sting are different from those that follow a sting from a wasp. Could you state some of those differences please? Thank you in advance.

Reply
Randi

I’m thrilled to hear you found my post useful! To answer your question, based off of my experiences, wasp stings hurt a lot longer. You still have the same swelling and redness but it hurts to the touch. Whereas, with honeybee stings it may hurt for a few moments but afterwards it’s mostly itchy for a few days with redness and swelling. I hope that answers your question. 

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How Varroa Mites Can Destroy Bees