Re: [beemonitoring] Native Bee Stings and Allergies
- Hi Chris,
Try Justin Schmidt, retired from ARS Tucson, but I think you may find him at the Desert Museum, Tucson. He was big on venoms. It's only one or two components that cause the allergy. Size of bee probably matters as well. My response to Africanized (smaller) bee stings is much less than to European. Venoms are not different. Cross reactivity from wasps to bees is low. I had a technician who reacted badly to wasps but not to honey bees.
I've been stung a lot by honey bees, and the only sting that I've found to be as bad was a bumble bee (in my childhood). Swelling about the same. Smaller bees that have stung me were very mild. Only a few times. ONe stingless bee in Venezuela packed a nasty bite as she spit acid into the wound. I've never been stung by a carpenter bee though I have handled a number of live ones, but from the size of the sting, I'd bet it could be painful.
Rather a bee than a wasp nest!!!!
On Aug 20, 2010, Chris McDonald <cjmcdonald@...> wrote:
I have been giving talks about what S. California gardeners can do to
build native bee-friendly landscapes.
The question I get asked the most is if native bees sting. And I ease
their fears, but then the follow up question is something like (1) what
if you are allergic, can a native bee sting cause you to have an
allergic reaction or worse go into anaphylaxis or (2) how painful is a
native bee sting?
(1) Of course there is a ton of information on generic "bee" stings
(most likely honey bees or misidentified wasps) but I can't find any
information on native bee stings. Even the medical literature sometimes
says "bee venom" with no species recorded. What is the reactivity of
native bee venom if you are allergic to "bee" stings?
(2) What is the variety of pain felt after being stung by native bees?
Through personal experience a sting by a native bee is pretty mild, but
I don't have allergies and have been stung only a few times by a few
species. Are there some native bee species that can cause a really
I'm hoping the sum of our experiences can provide insight.
My response to date has been that honey bees are built to defend the
hive and have adaptations for the job, such as potent venom. In contrast
most native bees are solitary and want to live another day to continue
reproducing and thus don't need potent venom.
Thanks in advance for your time,
My office is being remodeled due to water damage.
The reconstruction effort is slow, formidable and ongoing.
Leave a message for me at the main office (909) 387-2171
A better way to contact me is via email.
Chris McDonald PhD
Natural Resources Advisor
UC Cooperative Extension
(909) 387-2242 (not working until late-August)
(909) 387-3306 fax