The best way to describe bee venom is when you get a sting and shout, “ouch!”
Please keep in mind bees rarely intend to sting a human from a malicious perspective. They usually only strike out with their stinger when they feel threatened or think their hive will be under attack. After all, the bee will usually die when she stings a person, and she knows that as well.
When a threat is sensed, she launches into chemical warfare. Not only will the bee sting you, but an alarm pheromone will emanate from her that basically means she is calling for back up.
Keep in mind these are the insects that produce royal jelly, honey and – yes – bee venom. Another amazingly complex substance that fascinates scientists and is starting to look like it is another useful medicinal substance for some human woes.
This video is only 4:19 minutes long and is a good insight about bees and stinging... do they really always die when they sting a human?
The composition of bee venom is 88% water, and since humans have lots of moist tissues to be stung in, the venom disperses very well. The reason baking soda made into a paste can help soothe a bee sting is because the odorless venom is a pH 4.5 to 5.5, making it a wee bit acidic.
Melittin is the allergen in bee venom and is responsible for why you shout “ouch!” This is the main ingredient in bee venom, weighing in with a dry weight of 50%. The reaction it has when it enters your skin is to make the blood vessels around the sting spot burst and expand. This can cause human blood pressure to drop after being stung.
Another painful ingredient that causes inflammation and accounts for up to 12% in bee venom is Phospholipase A2, a protein that works hand in glove with melittin to destroy cell membranes.
And then there is histamine, which accounts for 9% of bee venom. Most people have heard of over-the-counter anti-histamines. Well, histamines will make the tiny capillaries leak and ooze fluid, leading to itchy red splotches. A little less painful than the previously mentioned ingredients, but still painful.
But there are other ingredients that help ensure high venomous toxicity. For instance, Hyaluronidase which accounts for 2% of the venom, helps spread the venom to surrounding tissues by breaking down a component in cell tissue, and Apamin, which accounts for 3% of the bee venom and destroys your nerve tissue.
The bee stinger is like a technologically advanced dispenser that keeps pumping even after it detaches from the worker bee’s body, so it is important to remove the stinger from your skin as quickly as you can to put an end to the influx of toxic venom.Stay tuned for another blog post about bee venom soon, where we will explore more about how bee venom therapy is showing promise medicinally for humans. If you've tried it, please share your experiences over on our Facebook page.