Statistics collected by the Australian Venom Research Unit reveal that since 1979, bees were to blame for 13 deaths in Victoria, while the scaly reptiles caused 12.
The national figures also show that small insects — ants, bees and wasps — have killed almost as many people across Australia as the snake, with 59 deaths compared with 67.
Venom and allergy experts said this highlighted the need for people to be as cautious about insect stings as they were about snake bites. “Snake bites are important, we should be putting that message out,” said venom expert Ken Winkel. “But there are people dying from a preventable cause — bee sting allergies.”