Potentially deadly allergic reactions to bee stings may have evolved to protect us from nature's venomous threats, research suggests.
Scientists in two studies found that an immune response to small amounts of bee venom helped mice resist a subsequent lethal dose.
A similar effect was seen when mice were exposed to venom from one of the world's most poisonous snakes, the Russell's Viper.
The findings indicate the reaction which can trigger life-threatening anaphylaxis may have evolved to provide protection against bites and stings from poisonous animals.
However, demonstrating that this is true in humans as well as mice may prove impossible due to the dangers involved.
Both studies are published in the 'Cell Press journal Immunity'.