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Medicine Bee Herbals - Article: The Chemistry and Production of Injectable Bee Venom

The Chemistry & Production of Injectable Bee Venom

"The wise man will seek out wisdom of all the ancients."

-- Ecclesiasticus XXXIX, I.

Apitherapy InformationBee venom is a substance secreted by active glands and ejected with the aid of the sting apparatus. It is a water-clear liquid with a sharp, bitter taste and aromatic odor (comparable to ripe bananas), having a distinctly acid reaction. Its specific gravity is 1.1313. It is easily soluble in water and acids, almost insoluble in alcohol. It contains 30% solid matter. The weight of an average drop of venom is about 0.2 to 0.3 mg that is about 1/500th part of the bee’s body weight.

The venom dries quickly in ordinary room temperature. Drying will convert it into a gum-like substance, without any loss of potency. It is very thermo stabile, withstanding 100° C. temperatures for ten days without losing any of its power. Boiling will make clear bee venom cloudy, but if boiled in a sealed glass tube even for two hours its appearance will not be affected. Cold, even freezing, does not destroy its effect. Yeast does not change the venom, even when exposed to its influence for several hours. It cannot be dialyzed through a membrane, which signifies that it belongs to the colloidal group. By various manipulations the venom gives a sediment rich in albumin.

Bee venom is easily destroyed by oxidizing substances: potassium permanganate, potassium sulphate; halogen elements-chlorine and bromine-destroy it very quickly; the effect of iodine is much slower. Alcohol possesses a strong and quick destructive effect on the venom. In contact with tincture of iodine, the alcohol is more destructive than the dissolved iodine.

It has no effect on uninjured skin. Still there are references to the fact that in certain sensitive people eczematous rash develops on parts of the body, whenever there is any contact with bee-materials, such as gloves, veil, frames, etc., which had been previously used. It is a kind of skin-allergy, produced by sensitization. The best proof that bee venom affects the skin is that absorption takes place. The recent introduction of a bee venom ointment must be vigorously rubbed in. It is possible that the consequent injury to the skin assists in the absorption.

On the other hand, its action is powerful on the mucous membranes, except, as mentioned, on those of the alimentary tract: the salivary, gastric, and intestinal ferments internally, are usually ineffective.

The venom dries quickly. If preserved from moisture, it will keep for years. In glycerin, it keeps indefinitely without losing toxicity.

Sting Apparatus and venom glandsThe Production of Injectable Bee Venom

Bee venom can procure in many ways. In the cleanest form, we can obtain it by pressing carefully with thumb and index finger the lower part of the bee’s abdomen. In this procedure the sting protrudes, and a clear drop of venom becomes visible on its end. This can be collected in capillary tubes, absorbed by a blotter, or flushed off in a normal saline solution. If we quickly dip this minute amount of poison into water, it will form a saline solution, as it is extremely water-soluble. By this method, the bees, with careful handling, can be used repeatedly as they will remain alive if the sting is not injured.

A more complicated way, after pressing the bee’s abdomen, is to grasp the protruding sting with fine forceps, and then with slight effort the whole sting apparatus (sting and adnexa, poison sac, glands, etc.) can be pulled out easily. If we collect a large number of these stings and immerse then in water, a cloudy fluid will result. This must be repeatedly filtered.

If the stings are extracted and dropped into 96% alcohol, the alcohol must be filtered and the remaining substance dried at 40° C. This substance can be rubbed into a fine powder, extracted with water, and re-filtered. We must obtain a clear, brownish-yellow liquid which, after proper concentration, will give all characteristic toxic reactions.

It required about 25,000 bees to produce one milligram of Pure Venom. The venom, when evaporated, forms regular crystals; with ammonia, a substance; with tannin, a sediment. All these properties show that the venom has an organic base.

Bee Venom ArticlePersonally, I consider the simplest and most practical procedure to extract the venom of the bees is the following:

Take a wide-mouth glass jar, approximately two to four inches in diameter, and about one inch high, fill it to the brim with sterile water, and cover it with some animal membrane (a ram’s dried scrotal sac is most appropriate). Make a small opening in the rear of the hive, just enough for a worker bee to pass through; place several drops of honey at this exit; the emerging bee will delight herself in consuming it, and there is no difficulty in catching her with two fingers.

Place the bee over the membrane of the jar, which she will sting with great eagerness. The sting penetrates the membrane, and the venom will be ejected, in a pure state, into the water, where it will form a solution. The stings will be caught and remain in the membrane. The final concentration of the solution will, of course, depend on the quantity of water contained in the jar, and the number of bees which were used. This is a very simple procedure to obtain a supply of venom for experimental purposes-its toxicity must be subsequently standardized.

Though we obtained the venom in a fairly pure state, it is not yet fit for therapeutic purposes; the protein must be entirely removed, which is a rather intricate task.

The foreign manufacturers carefully guard the secret of method by which they eliminate the proteins. Excerpts from “Bee Venom Therapy”, Dr. Bodog F. Beck and further references stated below.

References

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