Bee Venom Frequently Asked Questions
I have found a very interesting article in the American Bee Journal, Vol. 136,
No. 2, 1996, pp. 107-109, which I thought would interest you. It is on bee
venom therapy and I have the permission of the author to post it here.
Bee Venom - Frequently Asked Questions
Bee venom therapy is becoming recognized and accepted for treating certain
human ailments. Honey bee venom can be used in many different ways and forms.
I receive dozens of letters from people who ask me to send all the information
I have on bee venom. I answer all the letters, however, I am unable to send
them all of my approximately 5,000 pages of literature. In order to help I
have gathered the most frequently asked questions which I will answer here.
I have found people interested in bee venom therapy to be inquisitive and
therefore I have referenced my information sources to enable the readers to
begin research on their own on this fascinating topic.
1. How is bee venom collected?
Since the middle 1950s, the electric shock method has been used to stimulate
the bees to sting. The collector frame is usually placed at the entrance of
the hive and connected to a device which supplies electrical impulses.
The collector frame is made from wood or plastic and holds a wire grid.
Underneath the wires is a glass sheet which can be covered with a plastic or
rubber material to avoid contamination of the venom. During collection,
bees come in contact with the wire grid and receive a mild electric shock.
They sting the surface of the collector sheet as they see this to be the
source of danger. The venom is then deposited between the glass and the
protective material where it dries and is later scraped off.
2. Does venom collection kill bees?
Bee venom can be collected without killing bees. During the 1950s and 1960s,
venom collectors used a thick rubber sheet to collect bee stingers. The bees
stung in to the rubber sheet after receiving an electric shock and would lose
their stingers; as a result they died. Compared to modern methods this
collection technique is considered uneconomical. The newer collector devices
and methods are safe and do not harm bees. During 30 minutes of collection
time a well adjusted collector device will not kill more than 10 bees per hive.
This loss is not significant to the population of the bee hive and does not eff
ect the life span of the colony.
3. What does bee venom look like and how long can it be stored?
Honey bee venom is a colorless liquid. After drying, it is a white powder-
like material if protected from oxidation. If it is not protected, oxidation
will change the color from white to brownish-yellow. Changes caused by
oxidation of certain components of the venom may decrease its healing effect.
There are different kinds of venom such as: pure whole dried, whole dried
and freeze-dried (lyophilized) bee venom. Pure whole dried bee venom is the
purest venom. It is white in color (often it is snow white), not contaminated
with foreign materials and colorless when it is used in a solution.
Whole dried bee venom may be contaminated with pollen, feces, dust, nectar
or honey. Its color varies from yellow to brownish-yellow which depending on
the oxidation of the components. In solution form it also has the same color.
Freeze-dried bee venom is a highly processed and purified venom. During the
preparation its moisture content and any other contaminants are removed in
order to purify and preserve it. Some of the active components may be removed
also if an uncontrolled purification method is used. It is widely used in
creams, liniments and ointments. In a tablet form, it can be used to prepare
venom solution for electrophoresis or ultrasonophoresis applications. It is
easy to sterilize with syringe filtration.
If bee venom is protected from moisture and light it can be stored for five
years or more. It will not lose its toxicity, however its healing effects are
reduced by storage. Freeze-drying is perhaps the most effective method of
preserving bee venom.
4. What is bee venom used for?
Bee venom is a rich source of pharmaceutically active components. In twelve
European countries, in the drug category, we can find twenty-four products
containing bee venom. These products include creams, liniments, ointments,
salves or injection forms for treating different human ailments. They are
available by prescription or without a prescription in certain countries.
2 Veterinarians successfully used bee venom injection to treat arthritis in
horses and dogs. Scientists also use bee venom or its components in their
research of the effects of the whole or separated components of the venom.
5. Can bee venom be taken orally?
In the drug category, limited information is available on the uses of bee
venom in a tablet, capsule or drop forms. Nevertheless, there are dozens of
products on the European market in the homeopathic category containing Apis
mellifica or Apis Virus (Apiam Virus-- venom sac extract). In this category,
bee venom is also mixed with snake and centipede venoms and is taken orally
to treat cancer. Bee venom capsules were developed and tested in the Calgary
area for the treatment of chronic pain. It should be noted that the results
are preliminary and further research is required.
6. How is bee venom solution (BVS) prepared?
One of the simplest methods of preparing bee venom solution is to dissolve
the venom in a previously sterilized, hot, isotonic saline solution and passed
it through a micropore filter. The disadvantage of this method is that the
hot saline solution may partially destroy the active components of the venom.
Consequently, its healing effect cannot be compared to the effectiveness of
live bee stings. There are other methods to prepare a more effective venom
solution such as by a "cold" preparation method or by using freeze dried
bee venom. Thorough study and precise methodology is required to prepare an
effective solution which will meet the high standards of pharmaceutical
products. One of the best articles on this topic was written by Arthur B.
Kaspar (Bethesda, MD) who described the difficulties in preparing an effective
7. How many injections can be prepared from 1.0 g of bee venom?
The results of past research have shown that the venom sac of the honey bee
has about 0.1 mg. of dried weight content. Therefore 10,000 bee venom sacs
contain 1.0 g of bee venom. In preparing the 3x initial strength solution,
every 1 ml will contain 1.0 mg. of bee venom. Administering 0.1 ml of venom
solution to the affected area will be the equivalent of one bee sting. As a
result 1.0 g of bee venom can provide 10,000 injections. For the past 30 years,
the 3x solution has been considered a homeopathic preparation and proven to
be safe in use. The treatment was always conducted by physicians and there
was no serious anaphylactic shock or deaths reported. The latest research has
indicated that an average venom sac contains about 40-50% more venom than that
amount previously mentioned.4 Therefore, about 7,000 injections can be
prepared from 1.0 g of bee venom. However, these results have yet to be widely
distributed and accepted.
8. Is bee venom solution as effective as bee stings?
Bee venom has many active components, however, during its collection it may
lose its volatile fractions. Presently it is unknown if these fractions play
a role in the healing effect. Improper preparation methods may also decrease
its effectiveness. Bee venom from an uncontrolled source may be old, oxidized
(brownish color) or improperly stored and consequently less effective when
used. With a proper preparation method it is possible to make a venom solution
which is almost as effective as bee stings. Bee venom solution was successfully
used in the treatment of chronic pain, hearing problems, trauma, multiple
sclerosis, scars, spondylitis deformants, sporiasis, and all types of
Some of the advantages of using bee venom solution are: the treatment can be
conducted under the supervision of a physician; the dosage and components of
the venom are standardized; and the treatment is independent of the seasonal
changes of the components and availability of live bees.
9. Has bee venom solution been reported to be effective in treating multiple
In the early 1980s bee venom solution was believed to be as effective as
veno m from alive bee. Later this statement was modified based on the results
and the only bee venom solution available on the U.S. market. Treatments with
BVS are being done mainly in private clinics and limited information is
available from the practitioners. The MS treatment with live bee stings has
only a decade of anecdotal history and BVS even less. The lack of a
scientifically controlled study and proper documentation has made it difficult
to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.
Multiple sclerosis patients respond in individual ways to live bee sting
therapy. Some of them may show improvement within a short time, but others
need a longer period.
In several cases the condition of the patient did not improve. It is unknown
what causes these differences. We face similar problems in venom solution
administration as well. We have to understand that the simple administration
of a bee venom solution will not ensure its effectiveness. It is important to
follow treatment guidelines. These may be found in the books printed last year
on the uses of bee venom (see question fourteen). It needs to be stressed that
these guidelines are not scientifically proven; however based on observations,
they seem to work in most of the cases. Patients may not feel they are
improving or even reverse reactions may be observed. Some possible causes
include: insufficient quantity and/or concentration of venom solution,
improper administration, insufficient intake of vitamin C, poor nutrition,
allergies, medications, mental blocks (patient sees little hope for recovery),
scarring (may slow energy flow through the body), etc. You can find answers
to these problems in Amber Rose's book (see question fourteen). Make sure that
your physician is knowledgeable and well acquainted with the administration of
venom solution. Ask what books and articles he/she has studied on this topic.
Gather information from books and referenced scientific papers. Work together
with your physician and help him/her to understand bee venom therapy and its
proper use. Limited information and improper administration of venom solution
often leads to a conclusion that bee venom therapy does not work.
During the past few months, feedback from several people who have used bee
venom solution was received. In these cases the venom solution was prepared
from the pure whole dried bee venom using a "cold" preparation method in order
to save the active components of the venom. These people reported beneficial
effects of the venom solution in certain ailments including MS. Researchers
also studying the biological effects of the venom on nerve signals and immune
system cells. The lack of controlled research should not lead to the outright
dismissal of bee venom therapy for MS. Scientific study and documentation is
needed to support the general observations that have already been made.
10. I have MS and I would like to try BVT. Does BVS or bee sting therapy cause
Bee venom therapy may cause pain, the degree of which depends on the
tolerance of the patient. It is possible to lessen the pain by applying ice,
a cooler tool or even a cold silver spoon onto the sting site. Bee venom
solution may also be mixed with Xylocaine or Lidocaine to desensitize the
11. Is there any method to use BVS without injecting it?
Bee venom solution can be administered by electrophoresis or
ultrasonophoresis. Both of these methods use the highly diluted BVS (3x initial
strength), however ultrasonophoresis requires it to be mixed with an ointment.
The venom solution or ointment is then placed onto the affected area and
penetrates the body with the assistance of an electric current or ultrasound.
Another method uses a bee venom tablet containing a controlled amount of
venom which is dissolved in a specific volume of distilled water, thus ensuring
its safe and proper concentration. The Chinese are successfully applying these
methods for the treatments of bronchial asthma and all types of arthritis
These methods are safe and painless. They do not require the use of any
sophisticated instrumentation other than that which is already in use by
medical institutions. Furthermore, these methods ensure the controlled
administration of the venom by a physician or therapist.
Bee venom solution can be used by acupuncturists as well. During the last
three decades the Chinese have combined traditional acupuncture methods with
the uses of bee venom solution (KF-1 and KF-2) for the treatment of epilepsy,
impotence and all conditions that are treated with live bee stings. One of the
methods uses an acupuncture needle that is dipped into the venom solution and
administered into acupuncture points. Another method places the venom solution
on the acupuncture points and the needle is administered through the solution.
All of these techniques have led to the wider and safer application of bee
12. Is it necessary to sterilize the affected area before administering bee
stings or BVS?
Some of the most commonly used disinfectants like alcohol or tincture of
iodine should not be used for BVT. These disinfectants rapidly destroy the
active components of bee venom. In practice, the affected area can be washed
with soap and warm water and dried with a towel. Before administering a bee
venom injection the affected area can be cleaned with ether or benzine.8
13. How can I use a cream, liniment, ointment or salve containing bee venom
Bee venom products in this form were developed to treat arthritis,
rheumatism, tendonitis, bursitis, joint inflammation, skin diseases, Sudeck-
syndrome, etc. There is no scientific or anecdotal evidence for this kind of
administration of bee venom for MS conditions.
14. Where can I find literature on bee venom therapy?
Some of the best literature can be found in your local, university and
medical libraries. Two of the best references are written by physicians named
Bodog F. Beck9 and Joseph Broadman.10 Their books are hard to find and only
available through an Interlibrary Loan Request. Following these publications,
in 1979, Fred Malone11 published his book which is available from the author,
bookstores or the AAS. In the last year several new books were published on
bee venom therapy and are available to the general public. They are listed
below according to their publication date:
Simics, M.: Bee Venom: Exploring the Healing Power, Apitronic Publ.,
Rose, A.: Bee In Balance, Starpoint Enterprises, Ltd., ISBN 0-9641810-0-2
Wagner, P. How Well Are You Willing to Bee?, DeLancey Printing and Publ.,
Mraz, C.: Health and the Honeybee, Queen City Publications, ISBN 0-9642485-0-6
These books can be ordered from the authors or from your local bookstore.
Your local library might have access to the Medline CD-ROM database. The data
base is updated monthly and gives you the most recent publications and
information written by researchers. The Internet is also a powerful tool to
obtain information and share thoughts on this topic. Another good source of
information is the American Apitherapy Society (P.O.Box 54, Hartland Four
Corners, VT 05049, phone: 802-436-2708) which publishes a bimonthly newsletter
Bee Informed contains hands-on information on the uses of bee sting therapy.
This article was first published in Bee Informed.
Apitronic Services recently introduced the Apitherapy Research Service for
those who would like to know more about apitherapy. This service is dedicated
to providing the most up-to-date scientifically supported information,
literature and products for apitherapists, physicians and researchers. For
a basic service charge you can obtain information from this library and
database of over 15,000 pages of literature on: bee venom, propolis, honey,
royal jelly, pollen and bee bread.
1. Rose, A. (1994) The Future of Bee Venom Collection: A Man with a Vision,
Bee Informed, Vol. 1, No. 5, Nov./Dec., p. 1 & 8
2. Simics, M. (1994) Bee Venom: Exploring the Healing Power, Apitronic
3. Kaspar, A.B. (1978) Fractionation of Honey Bee Venom, Proceedings of the
North American Apiotherapy Society, Maryland, MD, pp. 67-75
4. Schumacher, M.J. et al. (1990) Quantity, Analysis, and Lethality of European
and Africanized Honey Bee Venoms, J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 43(1), pp. 79-86
5. Forestier, F, and M. Palmer (1984) Bee Venom in Rheumatology - An Experiment
Performed With 1,600 Cases, Apiacta, 19:19-22
6. Kim, C.M. (1989) Bee Venom Therapy for Arthritis, Rhumatologie, 41, 3, pp.
7. Klinghardt, D.K. (1990) Bee Venom Therapy for Chronic Pain, The Journal of
Neurological & Orthopedic Medicine & Surgery, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 195-197
8. Steigerwaldt, F., et al. (1966) Standardized Bee Venom (SBV) Therapy for Art
hritis, Indust. Med. Surg., 35:1045-1049
9. Beck, B. F. (1935) Bee Venom Therapy - Bee Venom, Its Nature, and Its Effect
on Arthritic and Rheumatoid Conditions, D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc.,
10. Broadman, J. (1962) Bee Venom - The Natural Curative for Arthritis and
Rheumatism, G. P. Putman's Sons, New York
11. Malone, F. (1979) Bees Don't Get Arthritis, Academy Books, Rutland, VT,
Mihaly Simics is the author of the book; Bee Venom: Exploring the Healing Power
and two other publications related to bee venom. His company, Apitronic Service
s, is a continuous supplier of high quality pure whole dried bee venom, BVS,
vespid venoms, bee and vespid venom collector devices (time limited until May
1996), literature, Apitherapy Research Service and bee venom therapy aids.
You may purchase his book for $9.95 U.S or contact him for further information:
Mihaly Simics, 4640 Pendlebury Rd., Richmond, B.C., Canada, V7E 1E7, Ph./Fax