bee venom collection

Introduction

The science behind Bee Venom is still developing and researchers continue to find new uses for it. We add small quantities of Bee Venom to Manuka Honey to create our hugely successful ‘Aches and Pains’ honey Nectar Ease and this also forms the basis for our Royal Nectar skincare range.

Bee venom composition

Bee Venom composition and strength varies between Honeybee species and small variances are identifiable between bee breeds and locations.

Bee Venom contains a variety of peptides, including melittin, apamin, adolapin, the mast-cell-degranulating (MCD) peptide, enzymes (i.e., phospholipase [PL] A(2)), biologically active amines (i.e., histamine and epinephrine), and nonpeptide components which have a variety of pharmaceutical properties.

Bee Venom’s unique composition has multiple effects on the body. The natural components of Bee Venom have been isolated and studied scientifically and one of the most important components has been identified as Melittin. Making up about 50% of the Bee Venom, Melittin is recognised as being a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Bee venom uses

Bee venom has been used as a traditional medicine to treat arthritis, rheumatism, back pain, cancerous tumors, and skin diseases. Studies have proven the effectiveness of bee venom in treating pathological conditions such as arthritis, pain and cancerous tumours.

Bee Venom has been reported to have anti-arthritis effects in several arthritis models. Melittin, a major peptide component of BV, has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritis properties.

Bee venom as a cosmetic ingredient may be useful as a topical agent for promoting skin regeneration or a treatment of certain epidermal conditions, according to research published in South Korea in 2015. This showed that bee venom serum treatment clinically improved facial wrinkles by decreasing total wrinkle area, total wrinkle count and average wrinkle dept.

The mechanism by which bee-venom serum exerts its anti-wrinkle effects is yet unknown, however, the therapeutic action of bee venom has been studied mostly for skin-related symptoms. When skin bacteria were incubated with bee venom, a bacteriostatic action of bee venom was demonstrated, which was further supported by its anti-inflammatory activity against skin bacteria through suppression of the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This same research showed that people suffering from acne benefited from treatment with bee venom.

Bee venom extraction

The Bee Venom used in Nectar Ease is extracted exclusively from the Apis Melifera species of Honeybee. Bee Venom is extracted from Honeybees using low voltage electrical stimulation. Bee keepers use a so-called collection frame which has wire electrodes installed that have a low electrical current running through them on a glass base, just like in the picture above. These frames are installed in honey hives and bees that come into contact with the wire electrodes will receive a small electrical shock. This causes bees to sting the glass, releasing the venom without losing their barbed sting (which usually results in bee deaths).

Once the collection process has finished, the Bee Venom dries on the glass, then the whole frame is transported to a laboratory to collect the venom.

Further reading

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) offers a great source of published research about Bee Venom. Below are links to several interesting articles.

The beneficial effects of honeybee-venom serum on facial wrinkles in humans. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26491274

Therapeutic application of anti-arthritis, pain-releasing, and anti-cancer effects of bee venom and its constituent compounds. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17555825

Anti-cancer effect of bee venom on colon cancer cell growth by activation of death receptors and inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26561202

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations has also published research on value-added products from beekeeping including Bee Venom. http://www.fao.org/docrep/w0076e/w0076e18.htm

The following table expresses the composition of Bee Venom from a worker Honeybee as recorded in the findings of two separate studies (Dotimas and Hilder, 1987; Shipolini, 1984).

These components were measured as a percentage of dry venom. Water makes up approximately 88% of venom before drying.

Class of Molecules Component% of Dry Venom (1)% of Dry Venom (2)
Enzymes   Phospolipase A210-1210-12
Hyaluronidase1-31.5-2.0
Acid phosphomonoesterase1.0
Lysophopholipase1.0
a-glucosidase0.6
Other Proteins and Peptides  Melittin5040 – 50
Apamine1 – 33
Mast Cell Degranulating Peptide(MCD)1-22.0
Secapin0.5-2.00.5
Adolapin1.0
Protease inhibitor0.8
Tertiapin*0.10.1
Small peptides – Less than 5 amino acids13 – 15
Physiologically Active Histamine0.5-2.00.6-1.6
Amines   Dopamine0.2-1.00.13-1.0
Noradrenaline0.1-0.50.1-0.7
Amino Acids  t-aminobutyric acid0.50.4
a-amino acids1.0
Sugars glucose and fructose2
Phospholipids5
Volatile compounds4-8