Even though bees bring many benefits to the world, there are still those that are fearful. Usually, angst and anxiety around bees is related to a fear of bee stings, as many people are severely allergic. While nobody wants to be stung by a bee and it can be quite painful, the sting is not poisonous, per sei.
So, are bees venomous?
Bees inject venom when they sting, but they are not poisonous. The venom from a bee is not necessarily going to be fatal, though it could be problematic for those with allergies or sensitivities to stings. It is safe to say that bees can be venomous, but rarely poisonous or fatal- unless you have a severe allergy, sensitivity, or reaction.
Keep reading to find out more about bee stings and their behavior.
Behavior of Bees
The behavior of bees is not unlike other animals on the planet- including humans! Each species has its own way of coping with and defending against perceived predators. Complacency could easily- and quickly- lead to the bee’s demise.
In the case of bees, their best chance for survival and prime defense mechanism is to sting. While not poisonous, bee venom could be lethal to anyone or anything that is allergic to bee stings.
When the bee stings, they inject venom which also helps to deter predators in the wild. In most instances, the bee perceives a threat to itself or the hive. Remember that the queen is in the hive, so basically, the bee is protecting the queen.
Queenless hives can also be more prone to erratic behavior.
Bee stings may deter potential predators to bees, but what do stings do to humans? Humans may not be a threat to bees but could stumble upon a hive or paranoid bee in their yard or garden.
Bee stings do not have poison in them, but they do inject a typically non-fatal venom into their stinger when they attack. The sting can be quite painful, irritating to the skin, but rarely lethal except in cases of extreme and severe allergies.
Poison versus Venom
So, bees inject venom with each sting- why is this not poisonous and lethal, such as the sting of a scorpion or deadly spider? While some animal species produce poison, bees are not one of them.
There is actually only one species that produces both venom and poison simultaneously, which is the Blue-Ringed octopus.
A distinction is made that poison is passive, a toxic substance that is inherently made and that causes issues with exposure- even innocent or circumstantial contact.
By contrast, venom is considered active; it is a substance that is produced by the animal and also delivered through stings or bites. Therefore, some poison and venom can harm or kill- while others may not. It depends on the toxicity and the individual- or species- being afflicted.
Bee stings are a real problem for anyone who has an allergy to them- though some people may not realize this sensitivity until after they have suffered a bee sting. In fact, some people are so allergic to bees that a single sting could be fatal.
One reason why some people are more sensitive to bee stings than others is usually due to their immune system. Some systems may be oversensitive to bee venom, creating a chaotic response that throws the body into severe shock.
As a response mechanism to the venom, the body releases histamines which cause you to swell. In extreme cases, this causes anaphylactic shock and swelling of the throat.
If not treated immediately, some may struggle to breathe and in rare cases, die from the sting. It is estimated that around 3% of adults and 1% of children have this lethal allergy to bee venom, making them extremely vulnerable to being stung.
When made aware of the allergy, many will be encouraged to carry an epi-pen to treat symptoms if anything should happen. Individuals that have allergies and experience a sting should seek emergency aid immediately, or call the Poison Control Center in your region.
Prognosis after a bee sting depends on many factors, including the severity of your allergy and how fast you seek medical attention.
Individuals that are not allergic to stings should recover quickly from being stung. Typically there are no signs of the encounter within a week, from the bee sting(s).
Bee Sting FAQs
Again, if you are concerned that you have an allergy to bee stings, talk to your doctor about carrying an epi-pen. Avoid bees and hives that you may encounter outdoors and consult with Poison Control Center if you are stung.
Remember to keep emergency phone numbers, such as the Poison Control, programmed into your phone for fast access during a crisis.
Some common questions regarding bee stings include these:
Do bees have venom or poison?
Bees inject venom when they sting that is typically non-fatal. Bees are not poisonous, but they do sting and cause skin irritation when they feel threatened, such as if you get too close to their hive.
Do bees sting humans?
Bees sting humans and other animal species, as well. Only the female bees sting.
What part of the bee sting contains venom?
Venom is released during a bee sting from a space and storage sac between the stylet and barbs of the bee’s stinger. One of the components of this venom is histamine, which explains why the sting-site swells and becomes red quickly.
Does bee venom have any health benefits?
Bee venom has been harvested and utilized for its anti-inflammatory properties that have therapeutic benefit for those living with conditions including arthritis and chronic pain issues.
While bees are not poisonous, they do inject venom when they sting- so they could be considered venomous. The sting of a bee is not usually life-threatening, but those that live with severe allergies could be in real trouble if stung.
If you suspect you have an allergy to bee stings, reach out for medical attention if you are ever stung right away. Talk to your doctor to learn more about carrying an epi-pen to prevent anaphylactic shock.