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Utah Beekeepers' Association

As Currently Organized since 1892, but Serving and Representing Utah's Beekeepers Since the Early 1860's

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Are you allergic to bee stings? Probably not!

Most people who think they are allergic are not.

A bee sting victim typically has localized pain and burning, redness, itchiness, and swelling at and around the site of the sting. This is not necessarily an allergic reaction but simply the victim's immune system responding to the bee venom. This is rarely dangerous.

However, a person who is stung several times may be in danger due to the amount of venom and immediate medical attention may be warranted.

An allergic reaction, on the other hand, has different symptoms which are usually manifested on parts of the body other than the sting site:

  • Rapid swelling around the eyes, lips, tongue, or throat

  • Difficulty breathing and/or swallowing

  • Wheezing or hoarseness

  • Itching

  • Dizziness

  • Reddish rash or hives

  • Stomach cramps

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Loss of consciousness

These reactions are extremely dangerous and require immediate medial attention. Call 911 and get the victim to the hospital. Your medical doctor, Mayo ClinicHealthLine, and WebMD have more information on bee sting allergies.

First Aid:

As shown in the photo above, a honey bee stinger usually stays in the victim's skin and the bee soon dies from the trauma. A honey bee stinger has a sharp, barbed shaft topped by a venom sac and muscles that pump venom sac contents into the skin.

To reduce the amount of venom that is injected into the skin, the stinger must be removed immediately. Do not use fingers to pinch the stinger out or use tweezers or any other tool that would squeeze more venom into the skin. Instead, promptly scrape the stinger off with a card, coin, or fingernail. If a card or coin is not immediately available, don't waste time to find one. Instead, simply use a fingernail to scrape it out.

Applying Benadryl creammud, or a paste made of water and baking soda can soothe the sting. They will not treat an allergic reaction!

More info:

Caveat Emptor:

The author of this page is not a physician and does not pretend to be one on TV.