Updated: Jun 28, 2019

I for one am not paranoid every time a bee flies near me. In fact we put a cut garden in our side yard to encourage bees. However, I know many people who are really scared of these insects. In general, bees are not out to sting people - they do so only if threatened or aggravated in some way, and bumblebees are rarely aggressive.

There is a decline in the bee population and it is linked to pesticides and climate change. Where would we be without bees? As far as important species go, they are at the top of the list. Besides providing the obvious honey, they are critical pollinators: they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world. Honey bees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops.

That’s only the start. We may lose all the plants that bees pollinate, all of animals that eat those plants and so on up the food chain. Which means a world without bees could struggle to sustain the global human population of 7 billion. Our supermarkets would have half the amount of fruits and vegetables.

However, bees stings can cause an allergic reaction and here is what one Doctor says you need to know about whether it's a mild reaction or one that needs serious attention.

“In general, there are two types of reactions,” says Dr. Piotrowski of Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, IL. “There is a local reaction, which is pain and itchiness around the area of the sting itself. Everyone gets that, regardless of an allergy. Usually the treatment for that is supportive care such as medication for itchiness.”

The more dangerous form of a reaction, however, is systematic.“ A systematic reaction is true anaphylaxis,” Dr. Piotrowski explains. “These folks usually know that they are allergic to bees but some may not. They have an immediate reaction to the sting within a few minutes.” Symptoms of a systematic reaction include trouble breathing, swelling of the throat and low blood pressure beginning immediately after the sting, and require immediate medical attention. Individuals with a previously diagnosed allergy and a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injection should use it immediately to slow the reaction, but all individuals experiencing anaphylaxis should go to a hospital as soon as possible for further treatment and observation.

“One dose of epinephrine may be enough, but sometimes it may not be,” Dr. Piotrowski explains. “Sometimes patients need another dose – they may need steroids or antihistamines, and even intubation, depending on the severity of the reaction.” Dr. Piotrowski also warns that all individuals with a diagnosed allergy should practice caution and carry their epinephrine injectors with them, regardless of the mildness of previous reactions.

“The way anaphylaxis works is that with every subsequent exposure to the allergen, the reaction gets worse,” Dr. Piotrowski says. “The first time you get stung, you may not have a huge reaction. But since your body has now seen that allergen and has produced an immune response against it, the next time it is introduced will be a little worse.”

Remember that reactions and symptoms manifesting beyond the site of the sting signify a systemic reaction and require professional medical care. Practicing caution and knowing which symptoms require further attention can go a long way in preventing a simple insect sting from turning into an emergency, no matter the season.

Since we need these guys so desperately try not to get alarmed when one is swarming around you. They are trying to keep us all alive. SO SAVE THE BEES!!!

Various Sources including BBC News and Aurora Advocate Health enews

  • Instagram - White Circle
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Pinterest - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle