Is Honey Safe If You’re Allergic To Bees?

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Here at Medicine Mama’s, we’ve had to respond to hundreds of bee allergy-related questions, from customers who are concerned that they might be allergic to our honey-based skin creams and moisturizers. The concerns are entirely reasonable, because allergic reactions to bee stings are painful and can even be dangerous. Furthermore, the information available on-line on the safety of using honey-based products for people allergic to bees is characteristically confusing and contradictory. Since the above-mentioned hundreds of answered questions have allowed me to inform myself on this topic, I thought I should share my expertise, for anyone who might still be wondering:

What does it mean to be allergic to bees?

Let’s get this one out of the way first. There’s a big difference between being allergic to bee stings, and being allergic to bee products (such as honey). If you are allergic to bee stings, that means that you are allergic to the bee venom. The allergic reaction to bee stings can be pretty severe and even fatal, so you should take every precaution to avoid getting stung if you know you’re allergic. On the other hand, if you are allergic to bee stings, the good news is that you’re no more likely to be allergic to honey (or pollen, propolis, and other bee by-products) than someone who is not allergic to bees at all. Bee venom and honey are unrelated products, so an allergy to one does not translate to an allergy to the other. Not to say, of course, that you can’t be allergic to both, since you very well might be, which would bring us to the next issue:

How do I know if I’m allergic to bees?

An allergy to either bees or bee by-products cannot be diagnosed over the internet. However, your doctor can perform a simple skin test using frozen venom to determine for you if you are allergic to bee stings. If you are worried that you might be allergic to bee by-products such as honey, pollen, propolis or royal jelly, you can ask your doctor for a patch test to determine if one of those substances triggers an allergic reaction in the skin called “allergic dermatitis.”

Can I use honey-based moisturizer if I’m allergic to bees?

This depends on what kind of bee allergy you have. If you are allergic only to bee stings, but not to bee by-products, then it would be perfectly safe to use a moisturizing cream such as our own Sweet Bee Magic, which only contains honey, propolis, pollen, beeswax, royal jelly and other bee by-products, but no bee venom. That’s not the case if you are allergic to honey. Even though the amount of honey in the honey-based skin creams is generally pretty low, it’s still better to stay safe and avoid using them.

Medicine Mama's Apothecary
205 Bryant St. OjaiCA93023 USA 
 • 800-343-1867

by Donna Steinmann