Brisbane Amateur Beekeepers' Society Inc.

Bee Venom Frequently Asked Questions

Hi Folks,

 

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

venom solution.3

 

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

arthritis.5,6,7

 

 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

sclerosis?

 

 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

pain?

 

  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

affected area.

 

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

conditions.

 

  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

venom solution.

 

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

for MS?

 

  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.,

ISBN 0-9697654-0-1

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.,

ISBN 0-9644344-4-X

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.

 

 

References:

 

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

Publishing, pp.53-54

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.

6 7-72

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.,

New York

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,

ISBN 0-914960-60-1

 

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

(604) 271-9414

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"Brisbane Amateur Beekeepers'Society Inc." is a  non-profit organization. Brisbane Queensland Australia

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