Hymenoptera stings and allergic reactions

" native bee stings aren’t dangerous"
What? That is the same as saying “bee stings aren’t dangerous”. All bees are native somewhere.

Bees native to the area I was in (western USA) are highly unlikely to cause any health issues. Honey bee anaphylaxis is a different concern. Bumblebee stings are the most painful I’ve dealt with and caused very little inflammation on my finger, as compared to a wasp sting or ant bite.


is anaphylaxis not just based on what the person is sensitized to? I thought most stings could cause it if the person was sensitized to the venom, and that it wasn’t just a honeybee thing



Under “allergic disorders” it does seem that most stinging Hymenoptera can cause reactions. My understanding is that most solitary bees have low amounts of venom relative to Apis, but I’m not a doctor or entomologist.

Anaphylaxis is a general term - basically a life-threatening hypersensitivity to something, generally an allergen. A person doesn’t need to have been sensitized to a potential allergen to go into anaphylaxis, but often initial exposures are less strong than subsequent ones, so it is a good rule of thumb that subsequent exposures can be more dangerous/likely to cause anaphylaxis. Strength of allergic reaction does often depend on dosage (more allergen, stronger response). So, all things being equal, more venom is more likely to induce anaphylaxis. Hymenopterans do have a variety of different venoms though, so not everyone will respond the same (or at all) to different venoms.


I’m no professional either, but my understanding is that the dose needed to trigger an allergic reaction is very small, such that any insect with enough venom to cause pain can cause anaphylaxis in a person with a severe allergy to it’s venom. I read about a case of anaphylaxis caused by a small number of Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) stings

I have also read that Apis venom is especially allergenic, but it is still possible to be allergic to just about any sting. There is also a rumor that one cannot be allergic to Bullet Ant (Paraponera clavata) stings, but this does not appear to be true

1 Like

I split this discussion off into its own topic.


I don’t know about other Hymenoptera, but I found out the hard way that Vespinae hate me and want me to suffer. It wasn’t just that the $@^&!# yellowjacket had to fly up the leg of my jeans and nail me right above the ankle, it was that the little @&#%@$#! did so while I was running a time-sensitive errand for my then-boss; one which involved a good chunk of walking once I got to where I was going. Not the best time to have to detour and grab a bottle of antihistamine syrup.