Allergic Reactions to Bee Stings

By Victoria Ries

Summer is a great time to get out and about in the countryside to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, wildflowers and.....bees!

Honeybee, Bumblebee, Wasp, Hornet and Yellow Jacket stings-all potentially life threatening to those hypersensitive to Hymenoptera venom, which can cause fatal Anaphylaxis if not treated within minutes.

Along with localized pain, itching and swelling around the sting site, victims can experience life threatening, systemic problems within fifteen minutes to an hour, which may include: hives, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, lethargy, loss of consciousness, bronchospasms, swelling of larynx/throat, swelling of face, tongue and mouth, shock and in some cases, death.

To temporarily stall Anaphylaxis, it is vital the victim get an epinephrine shot if symptomatic (every ten to twenty minutes if necessary, until arrival at hospital) as Anaphylaxis can recur between shots. Epinephrine can save precious minutes of the victim's life in the event of a severe reaction far from a hospital. (EpiPen and EpiPenJr product information is available at

To remove a Honeybee stinger, which looks like a splinter; gently scrape it out with a credit card or fingernail making sure not to put pressure on the stinger, which will automatically pump until all the venom is released. After removal, wash the site with soap and water and apply an icepack to reduce swelling. 90% of the venom is released in the first twenty seconds of the initial sting; the faster the stinger and venom sac are removed, the better. The bee will die a short while after stinging you.

Wasps, Hornets, Yellow Jackets and Bumblebees are able to sting multiple times. On killing a Yellow Jacket, a scent is released which will attract his buddies and they will try to attack you. The best line of defense is to run to the nearest house or a car - an enclosed shelter of some sort. If a few get trapped in the car with you, drive a mile away, then get out of the vehicle and let them out, too. If multiple stings are sustained, seek medical help immediately.

Cover Up: At the end of the season, the culprits seem to sting without reason, making it difficult for those with severe allergic reactions to plan their outdoor activities. It is wise to cover as much of the body as possible; wear solid white or pale colored clothing, long sleeves, a hat, long pants and socks. Bees are attracted to dark and floral patterned clothing. Always carry life-saving epinephrine shots - just in case of an emergency.

BeeGone Spray: For exposed areas, make up a spritzer bottle of one teaspoon of tea tree essential oil, one teaspoon of lavender essential oil, one teaspoon of citronella oil and half a cup of vodka. Firstly, spray it on the hands then apply to the neck and face, avoiding the eyes.

Unfortunately, multiple stings do not help desensitize the effects of Hymenoptera venom; in most cases, it works the opposite way. Immunotherapy may help some people. A physician or allergist will provide full details of available Immunotherapy Programs.

Copyright 2001 Victoria Ries All rights reserved

Victoria Ries is a freelance writer living in the rural mountains of Arizona. She home school's four of six children still living at home. Visit her web site at and subscribe to her free monthly eZine by sending a blank email to:



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