Bumble Bee Stinging | Reaction, and Treatment for Allergic & Non-allergic

Bumble Bee Stinging | Bumblebee Vs Honeybee Stinging | What happens after stinging | How to prevent bumblebee stings | Reactions and treatments | Non-allergic reaction | Allergic reaction | Treating an allergic reaction | Increased risk | Information for doctors |

Bumble Bee Stinging

Find here the information on bumblebee stings, guidance for reducing the likelihood of being stung by a bumblebee, and the possible reaction to a sting including its effective treatment. At first, you have to know the threats and how to avoid them.

Bumblebee Vs Honeybee Stinging

The main difference is the honey bee dies after stinging a human while the bumblebee does not. This is because she digs the sting so deep into the human body that the human elastic skin prevents her to pull the sting out.

Ultimately honeybee will either be killed by whomever she has stung or she will press on so much that the sting, poison sac, and some part of abdominal contents come out of her body and left her hanging from the stuck sting, and fly off to die. The victim should pull out the painful sting as soon as possible.

Remember, a male bumblebee doesn’t have the stinger, so they can’t sting anyway. Bumblebees are of various subspecies and different appearances in regard to colors and patterns. Usually, they are larger than honeybees, and furrier than wasps.

In regard to the stinger, they are similar to honey bees and wasps. The workers and queens have a stinger. The male or drone has no stinger and hence can’t sting. The stinger is used as a weapon for self-defense. While they feel vulnerable, they push their stings on humans or animals to protect themselves.

What happens after stinging

Through the stinger some venom is injected that can cause a short time severe pain. The Bumblebee can withdraw her stinger and is able to sting several times. When a honey bee tries to withdraw her stinger, it splits from the abdomen with the venom gland.

So, he loses an important organ and becomes weaker, and dies. Rarely, approximately in 1% of cases, the injected venom develops an allergic reaction for those who are allergic sensitive. The response to the bumblebee sting can differ for each occurrence.

How to prevent bumblebee stings?

I stated before, Bumblebee stings only in specific circumstances. And we can reduce the possibility of stinging if avoid making them aggressive.

What to Know about Bumble Bee Stinging: Reaction and Treatment for Allergic & Non-allergic Reaction.

Always be cool with them and don’t move your arms or body hurry toward them. Slowly observe and calm them with smoke. Sometimes smoking can help you somewhat. Usually, Beekeepers use the smoker with tobacco or pellet.

Strong perfume, scented cosmetics, alcoholic aftershave lotion, watches, bracelets, colorful clothing can make them aggressive to sting. That is why the beekeepers usually wear a white suit and veil. Recommended protective clothing can reduce the risk of stinging. Remember, bumble can sting even through your ordinary clothing.

Bumblebee Sting Reactions and treatments

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(a) Non-allergic, or local reaction

Bumblebee sting usually leads to a local reaction that is non-allergic. Swelling, itching, and redness around the biting spot are known as the local reaction. It can directly occur after a bee sting and lasts only a few hours. Sometimes it can take the longest time to disappear the symptoms, but still now considered a local or non-allergic reaction.

Treatment of a non-allergic, or local reaction

For local reaction, usually, no extensive medical treatment is required. But if the sting is near any sensitive organ like the eyes, the victim should take an anti-inflammatory, such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen. Moreover, a cold compress should be applied to the injured place.

To reduce the itching an anti-itch ointment can be applied. Several types of such anti-itch ointments are available. Choose the one that contains Diethyl-m-toluamide.

If the stung in the mouth or pharynx or near any air path, this can cause to block breathing. So, immediately the patient should be taken to the Hospital. They will keep in observation and apply Corticosteroids, such as Prednisone.

(b) Allergic reaction

Only 1% of total occurrences may lead to an allergic reaction in the case of several stings. This is called a general allergic reaction, systemic allergic reaction, or anaphylactic reaction.

Due to an allergic reaction involving antibodies created during previous occurrences, it’s not possible to have an allergic reaction at first sting. But this actual allergic reaction becomes visible within a few seconds to half an hour of stinging.

Allergic reactions are categorized into four levels, depending on the severity:

Level 1: Experience itching, redness, and swelling all over the body.
Level 2: This level is considered when intestinal problems, that as vomiting, or diarrhea, include the symptoms of level 1.
Level 3: This level includes difficulties in breathing and, or a feeling of disgust with level 1 and, or level 2.

Level 4: This last level is considered while the patient feels heart palpitations, fainting, and anaphylactic shock including level 1 and, or 2 and, or 3 symptoms. Anaphylactic shock can be accompanied by dizziness, excessive sweating, and cold shivers.

Treating an allergic reaction

Contact a General Physician for a level 1 reaction. They’ll keep the patient in observation and take the decision on the basis of the situation. A hospital is desirable due to the reaction may increase gradually over time. In case of vomiting which is definitely a symptom of level 3 or 4, the patient must be taken to the hospital immediately.

In an allergic reaction, an antihistamine such as clemastine is useful. It’ll reduce the swelling that is caused by histamine in the poison. Sometimes, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, such as DAF or Dexamethasone.

In the case of level 3 or 4 reactions, it’s necessary to apply adrenaline at first. It excites the heart, compresses the blood vessels, and opens the airways. Adrenaline can be self-injected by means of an adrenaline auto-injector, such as EpiPen or Jext.

If the patient already had an allergic reaction to the bumblebee sting, an Adrenaline auto-injector is available only by prescription. It also can be available to the companies that work with bumblebees.

(c) Toxic reactions

When someone is stung dozens of times in one period, a Toxic reaction will occur. The usual allergic reaction occurs in the nervous system or circulatory system, which results in cardiac arrhythmia or difficulties with breathing. In this case, also the patient should be taken to the hospital and kept in observation.

(d) Hyperventilation

In level 4 allergic reaction, as a result of shock hyperventilation may occur or cause unconsciousness. In any of the above situations, it’s necessary to call emergency medical service immediately.

Increased risk

A pregnant or a person using certain medicines like beta-blockers are at high risk when an allergic reaction occurs to a bumblebee sting.

Bumblebee allergy reaction

Remember, if you had an allergic reaction once before, it’s not necessary to have an allergic reaction next time. Particularly for levels 1 and 2, the chance is very small. Reactions may differ from person to person and in each case separately.

It’s possible to test with purified venom to determine whether you’ll have an allergic reaction in the next sting. Purified venom can be used for hyposensitization treatment also. But immunotherapy with bumblebee venom may not useful for patients with a honey bee or wasp venom allergy. So, treatment for each type of bee allergic reaction is different from others. It’s applicable for that type only.

Hyposensitization treatment is intended to desensitize the body with bumblebee venom. If you don’t like this treatment, you can obtain a prescription for an adrenaline auto-injector from a doctor or physician. For tests and treatment, you can contact the Allergology department of RDGG or directly to Dr. De Groot at the Diakonessehuis location in Voorburg.

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Information for doctors

For more information about the medical treatment of allergic reactions, contact, and request Koppert. Or contact an allergy specialist or doctor of internal medicine.


De Groot, H. Allergie voor insecten, Huisarts en Wetenschap 2002; 45 (7): 362-7.
De Groot, H. Allergy to bumblebees. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2006; 6: 294-7. For more information, please visit Bumblebee sting.


This information is provided for educational purposes only. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem. Because it’s not a substitute for medical care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your medical Advisor. This is only to help you recognize the problem to take advanced precautions.

Related Topics

1. How to start Beekeeping?

2. Benefits of Honey

3. Honey Bee Characteristics

4. How To Process Raw Honey At Home (DIY)?

5. Grants of Raising Honey Bees

6. Beekeeping for Profit

Resources of information

National Honey Board,

American Honey Producers Association,

American Bee Journal,

The Pollination Home Page,

Photo Credit – Picasa,

Photo Credit-Google images – unrestricted,

Experience of my own beekeeping project.


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1 thought on “Bumble Bee Stinging | Reaction, and Treatment for Allergic & Non-allergic”

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