We collect our bee venom using a state of the art European bee venom collector. The collector is placed in front of the hive and the bees are irritated with a gentle electrical stimulus and they respond by stinging the glass plate of the collector. However, unlike when they sting the skin, they are not harmed as their stingers do not penetrate the glass and their stingers are not left behind. Our bees then happily continue on with their honey making in the vineyards and fields of our lovely sunny region.
Honey bee venom has extensively scientifically researched over decades, and used for centuries in Oriental medicine. Its powerful anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties are well documented (Oren & Shai, 1997; Samy et al., 2006). It has been used in traditional medicine to treat arthritis, rheumatism, pain and skin diseases (Son et al., 2007). Melittin, a peptide and the major active component of Bee Venom (BV), has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritis properties (Li et al., 2010). Bee Venom contains a number of other peptides, including apamin and adolapin, enzymes, biologically active amines (i.e., histamine and epinephrine), and non-peptide components – these have a variety of pharmaceutical properties including anti-inflammatory effects (Banks, Dempsey, & Barboni, 1983).
Bee Venom also has shown promising effects against acne, leading researchers to conclude that BV has significant antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects against P. acnes – they suggest that BV may be considered as an alternative treatment to antibiotic therapy for acne vulgaris (Han, Lee, Yeo, Baek, & Park, 2010). The wound healing properties of BV have been well studied as BV has been used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and for pain relief in traditional Oriental medicine. (Cho et al., 2010; Li, et al., 2010). More recent, very interesting South Korean research in 2011 has indicated that honey bee (Apis melifora. L) venom has significant wound healing, collagen and fibronectin promoting properties. While research into the cosmetic application of bee venom is limited, this is an exciting paper linking wound-healing and bee venom with that all important collagen production. We based the strength of the bee venom component of our products from extensive trials to ensure that our products were effective but not painful, mimicking the effects of a light sting but in a painless manner. Research into the bacteriostatic efficacy of Bee Venom, published in the journal ‘Nature’, determined that our number of stings per ml was within that same range.
The main active components of bee venom are:
Melittin (a peptide) is the main active compound comprising about 50% of bee venom. Melittin is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agents known and induces the production of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a natural agent of the body’s own healing process, being a hundred times more powerful than hydrocortisone.
Apamin comprises about 2-3 % of the venom and increases cortisol production in the adrenal gland thereby helping with the healing response. Apamin is a mild neurotoxin.
Adolapin (<1%), acts as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic because it blocks cycloxygenase.
Phospholipase A2 comprises 10-12% of the venom and it is the most destructive component of the venom. It is an enzyme and degrades the phospholipids which cellular membranes are made of. This component is the key allergen in bee venom and induces inflammation.
Phospholipase B (1%) has a detoxifying action.
Pyaluronidase (<2%) dilates the capillaries and increases their permeability and blood circulation, increasing the penetration of the bee venom into tissue.
Histamine (<1%) acts like hyaluronidase mentioned above but is also an allergen and is involved in the allergic response (hence the use of anti-histamines).
The remainder of the bee venom is made up of inactive proteins, peptides, minerals, sugars and pheromones.