I'm Allergic to Bees—Can I Eat Honey?

Why Are People Allergic to Bees?

When a bee or other stinging insect stings, the barb injects a little poison into your muscle. Certain proteins in the venom may induce allergies. This is venom hypersensitivity.

Burke said three stinging insect families induce anaphylactic allergies. The Apidae family includes honeybees. Their venom has five main allergens. 

Hyaluronidase, acid phosphatase, CUS serine protease, and icarapin are mild allergens that cause large inflammatory reactions, followed by phospholipase A2. 

Burke said honeybee stings usually occur on the feet when strolling on grass or clovers, where they cluster outside their colony.

Bee stings can cause several responses. "A non-allergic person can get stung and have a localized inflammatory response from injected venom," Burke says. Even without a bee allergy, a sting can cause swelling and a red circle around the sting.

How to Find Out If You Have a Bee Allergy

Even if your allergist/immunologist performs a regular allergy test, a bee allergy will require specialist testing, which may be done in two ways. Venom sensitivity is not part of routine allergy tests.

The first is skin testing. Allergists apply venom from the insects that cause the allergy to your skin and prick it with a sterile probe to see if a red hive appears. If it's negative or inconclusive, the allergist will inject more beneath the skin to find a red hive.

So If I'm Allergic to Bee Stings, Do I Need to Avoid Honey?

First, honey production. Honeybees gather plant nectar and create honey in their honeycombs. 

So If I'm Allergic to Bee Stings, Do I Need to Avoid Honey?

 Honeybees eat honey, although they don't eat as much as they generate. (The National Honey Board reports that beekeepers may take 55 pounds of excess honey each hive.)

Can You Be Allergic to Honey?

While a bee allergy is not correlated with honey, a separate honey allergy is possible—although it is quite rare and unrelated to the venom itself.

Can You Be Allergic to Honey?

Burke: "I've probably had less than a handful of patients in my career who have a honey reaction." Local pollen naturally gathering there is thought to cause the response. Honey may be contaminated by the air."

Like Share And Save