Bee Sting Allergies: Get the Facts

baby bee
Photo by ventichaitea
As the weather gets warmer and we head outside where all that nature lives, there will be blood. Oh, there will be blood. Case in point. When my husband brought our baby home from daycare on Friday, his report was this:

"Do you want to know something about your son? He's not allergic to bees."

Yep, the babe got stung by a bee during an outing on a particularly lovely day, but by the time he came home, we couldn't even figure out which hand the bee attacked. So, good for him! And for us.

But this summer danger got me thinking.

How do I know what a normal vs. allergic reaction looks like? Does this have anything to do with honey? I'm not allergic to bee stings, so are my kids safe? Are you sure he's not allergic?


Here are answers I've cobbled together from Dr. Google. If you have a real bee sting -- allergic reaction or not -- please consult an actual physician.

A normal reaction to a bee sting is swelling and redness at the site. A bigger reaction could cause swelling in a larger area, say the entire leg if you were stung on your ankle. But the serious, life-threatening bee sting looks like this:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives that appear as a red, itchy rash and spread to areas beyond the sting
  • Swelling of the face, throat, or mouth tissue
  • Wheezing or difficulty swallowing
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure

Get immediate medical attention if any of these occur.

Allergies can be hereditary, so if you or your spouse is allergic to bee stings, there's a good chance your child will be also. However, you don't know until you've been stung or go through testing.

While some people who are allergic to bees are allergic to bee byproducts (i.e., honey) not everyone will be. Also, interestingly, people affected by seasonal allergies could have reactions to honey. And of course babies under the age of 1 year shouldn't have honey. Honey sounds so dangerous, so why do they make it so good?

Only 4 percent of allergy sufferers have a reaction to insects, so chances are, no he's really not allergic.


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