Most commonly Apis mellifera (honey bee).
Animals most affected
Birds, horses, dogs, cats, cattle.
Ingestion of the insect; multiple stings following disturbance of a swarm, loud noises
or brusque movements near a beehive. Certain species of bees are known to be aggressive.
The venom contains:
vasoactive elements: histamine
enzymes: phospholipase A, hyaluronidase and peptides.
The venom is immunoactive.
The toxic response varies according to the type of bee involved, the age of the animal
involved and its immune status (i.e. whether or not it has been stung previously).
The severity of the envenomation also depends upon the site of the sting, the throat
presenting particular problems.
Clinical features and lesions
At the site of the bee sting
barb visible and, in the case of multiple stings, the animal appears to be covered
with white dust or powder;
acute pain, redness developing within 30 seconds;
local swelling and oedema, extending in area over 2 - 8 hours, but often hardly
visible due to the fur coat or thick hide of the affected animal;
(Especially in cases of multiple stings):
sweating, vomiting, tachycardia;
occasionally coma, collapse and death;
dyspnoea, colic, diarrhoea and haemoglobinuria have been recorded in horses.
If the sting is in or around the throat
The clinical sigus include:
oedema of the glottis;
There may be allergic reactions in animals which have been previously sensitized.
These reactions may develop into anaphylactic shock.
death in 5 - 7 hours depending on the quantity of venom injected.
Using tweezers, carefully lift out the sting, being careful not to squeeze the venom
tincture of iodine, alcohol or arnica tincture;
topical creams containing corticosteroids or antihistamines.
If there is an allergic reaction and to minimize shock:
adrenaline sc, 0.1 - 1.0 ml of a 1:1000 solution;
antihistamines (e.g. promethazine: Phenergan) im; corticosteroids.
Emergency tracheostomy may be indicated if the throat is swollen and causing obstruction
of the airways.
Attempt to desensitize the animal by subcutaneous injections of total extracts of
bee venom over a period of several years.