Yes, bees have venom. Bees use venom to defend themselves and their colonies. This venom paralyzes other insects and may cause allergic reactions in humans.
In this article, we’ll learn more about bee venom as we discuss the following:
- What is bee venom?
- Do all bees have venom?
- Where do bees store venom?
- How bees use venom
- How bees inject venom
- Is bee venom dangerous?
- Uses and benefits of bee venom
What Is Bee Venom?
Bee venom is a clear liquid substance produced by bees. It’s primarily used by bees as a defense mechanism against predators. However, it also has potential therapeutic properties. It’s used in alternative medicine practices such as apitherapy. It’s also believed to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and immunomodulatory effects.
Components of Bee Venom
Bee venom is a complex mixture of various components, including:
- Melittin: This is the primary component of bee venom and is responsible for its toxic effects. Melittin is a peptide that can cause pain, inflammation, and cell destruction.
- Phospholipase A2: This enzyme affects inflammatory response and causes allergic reactions. It is also responsible for the pain and swelling associated with bee stings.
- Hyaluronidase: This enzyme helps break down hyaluronic acid, a component of connective tissue. It allows the venom to spread more easily through the body.
- Apamin: This peptide affects the central nervous system. It can cause muscle tremors and convulsions.
- Mast cell degranulating peptide: This peptide causes the release of histamine from mast cells. It leads to allergic reactions and inflammation.
- Adolapin: This peptide has anti-inflammatory properties. It helps alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with bee stings.
- Histamine: Bee venom contains histamine, which contributes to the allergic reaction and inflammation.
- Dopamine: Bee venom contains small amounts of dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation and pain perception.
The components of bee venom vary between species. Honeybee venom, for example, mainly consists of melittin. This melittin is a cationic amphipathic peptide composed of 26 amino acids. It makes up around 50% of honeybee venom.
On the other hand, bumblebee venom does not have melittin at all. Instead, it has secretory phospholipase A2 which induces apoptosis or cell death. 
Do All Bees Have Venom?
No, not all bees have venom. Only female bees (workers and queens) have venom glands and stingers. Male bees, known as drones, do not have stingers and, therefore, do not have venom.
Where Do Bees Store Venom?
Bees store venom in a special gland called the venom sac. This sac is located at the end of the abdomen. It’s connected to the stinger, allowing the bee to inject venom into its target when it stings.
How Do Bees Use Venom?
Bees use venom as a defense mechanism. When bees feel threatened they sting to protect themselves or their hive. Their stings inject venom and cause pain and inflammation. It’s used as a deterrent to predators and other potential threats.
How Do Bees Inject Venom?
Bees have a specialized stinger connected to a venom sac. When a bee stings, it thrusts its stinger into the target and injects venom through the stinger.
Once the stinger is embedded, venom continues to be pumped into the victim’s skin for a short period. This is why it is important to remove the stinger as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of venom.
Do Bees Inject Venom When They Bite?
Some bees can. Research shows that honeybees secrete 2-heptanone (2-H) when they bite. This 2-H acts as an anesthetic in arthropods. It can paralyze parasites like wax moth larvae and Varroa mites. 
Is Bee Venom Dangerous?
Bee venom is generally not harmful. Oftentimes it simply results in minor pain and swelling. However, it can be dangerous for individuals allergic to it.
Severe allergic reactions can be potentially life-threatening and require emergency treatment. Bee stings and venom can lead to anaphylaxis, which is fatal when untreated. 
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the throat and tongue
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Dizziness or fainting
- Loss of consciousness
If you are unsure about your reaction to bee venom, consult a healthcare professional.
What Is the Lethal Dose of Bee Venom for Humans?
The median lethal dose (LD50) of bee venom varies between 2.8 and 3.5 mg of venom per kg of human body weight. Thus, a non-allergic person of average weight may die upon being stung by 1,000 to 1,500 bees. 
That said, some people have died from just 200 to 500 stings. Also, it’s important to note that a single sting can be fatal to individuals allergic to bee venom.
Uses of Bee Venom
Despite its dangers, bee venom is also used for various purposes, including:
- Medicinal purposes: Bee venom contains a variety of compounds that have medicinal properties. For instance, it’s believed to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. It’s used in traditional medicine to treat conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism.
- Anticancer properties: Bee venom contains melittin and apamin. These substances have shown potential anticancer effects in laboratory studies. They can inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (cell death) in various types of cancer. 
- Alternative therapy for pain management: Bee venom therapy (BVT) is the medicinal application of BV into the human body. It is used to manage chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, back pain, and joint pain.
- Allergy desensitization: Bee venom helps desensitize individuals who are allergic to bee stings. Small amounts of venom are gradually introduced into the body to build tolerance and reduce the severity of reactions.
- Cosmetic and skin care products: Bee venom is used in some cosmetic and skincare products. This is due to its potential anti-aging and collagen-boosting effects. It is believed to stimulate blood circulation, improve skin texture, and reduce wrinkles.
- Research and development: Bee venom is also used in scientific research. Researchers study its effects on human health and explore potential therapeutic applications. It has been investigated for its antimicrobial, anticancer, and neuroprotective properties.
Summary: Do Bees Have Venom?
To summarize, yes bees do have venom. Bees produce venom as a defense mechanism. This venom causes pain, inflammation, and sometimes paralysis. They inject it through their stings to deter predators and other threats.