Stings & Allergies

Please be aware that Bumblebees

can sting!

Although bumblebees are not generally aggressive, they can sting as a defence measure. This is normally when they are caught in clothing or when their nest is disturbed. Bumblebee workers and the Queen have a sting but the male bees do not. The sting of a Bumblebee has no barbs, so they don't die after stinging as honeybees do.

When a Bumblebee stings, it causes a short severe pain in humans as a small amount of venom is injected into the body. Sometimes on quite rare occasions, an allergic reaction can develop against the injected venom.  This is often referred to as an Anaphlactic reaction.


If you do get stung, here is some advice on treatments;


NON-ALLERGIC - A local reaction to a sting:

Normally a Bumblebee sting leads to a non-allergic, local reaction. The site of the sting turns red and itchy and lasts for a few hours. There is often a delay in this reaction for some hours. The itching can last for a few hours or even a few days. The sting reaction can also spread from the original area. However this is still a local, non-allergic reaction.

Treatment of a local non-allergic reaction: In most cases a medical treatment is not required. Some action can be taken to reduce the local reaction, especially if the sting is in an extra sensitive place, such as applying a cold compress to the area of the sting.


ALLERGIC - A general or severe reaction to a sting:

In some cases (approx. 1%) bee stings can lead to an allergic reaction, often known as general, systemic or anaphylactic reaction. It does not usually happen after the first sting.

Allergic reactions usually become evident within 15 minutes after the sting.


Allergic reactions are classified in four grades, in order of severity;

Grade 1 reactions on the skin (swellings, redness, itching) over the WHOLE BODY

Grade 2 - Grade1 plus intestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhoea).

Grade 3 - Grade 1 and/ or 2 plus bronchial obstruction.

Grade 4 - Grade 1 and/or 2 and 3 plus heart palpitations, anaphylactic shock.


Treatment of allergic reactions:

If any of the described symptoms are observed, seek immediate medical advice.

In case of grade 3-4 or vomiting, take to A&E or call an ambulance immediately.

Take further medical advice once an allergic reaction has occurred on how to cope with future stings.




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