You’re More Likely to Die From a Bee Sting Than a Shark Attack

Sharks aren’t the ones to fear this summer.

Marina Koren Stephanie Stamm
Aug. 12, 2014, 5:36 a.m.

This week, all eyes are on the ocean, where 5,000-pound, 15-foot-long pred­at­ors with razor-sharp teeth glide at an easy 35 mph.

But for­get sharks if you’re wor­ried about a deadly sum­mer en­counter. You’re much more likely to be killed by something that’s just half an inch long and nearly weight­less: a bee.

The odds of be­ing killed by a shark are about 1 in 3.7 mil­lion. The odds of be­ing killed by a sting from a bee, wasp, or hor­net are 1 in 79,842, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al Cen­ter for Health Stat­ist­ics, a part of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

Between 2001 and 2011 (the last year for which the cen­ter has num­bers), 639 people died from stings by these winged in­sects in the United States. That’s an av­er­age of 58 deaths per year. In that same peri­od, 10 people were killed by sharks in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to the Flor­ida Mu­seum of Nat­ur­al His­tory.

Last week, the Bur­eau of Labor Stat­ist­ics re­leased num­bers about work­place deaths, in­clud­ing by winged in­sects. Between 2003 and 2010, 83 people were killed by bugs on the job, the ma­jor­ity due to bee stings. Most vic­tims worked out­doors, as farm­ers, con­struc­tion work­ers, or land­scapers.

Stings from bees, wasps, and hor­nets are not leth­al, but they can be when they trig­ger an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion. Without emer­gency treat­ment, the most severe re­ac­tions can lead to ana­phylact­ic shock and then death with­in minutes.