by Mihály Simics, Apitronic Services
Workshop: Apitherapy for Beekeepers - Practical
Aspects. Apimondia '99,
Vancouver, BC, Canada, September 12-18, 1999.
Honeybee venom is a unique product which has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. The evolution of the modern medical practice has made the use of live bees in the office environment unsuitable. The medical and scientific communities require a continuous supply of high quality venom for use in age old and modern preparations and treatments. Modern medicine demands exceptionally high standards for the product, consistent quality and availability of raw material. This prompted us to develop a new, third generation commercial bee venom collector device. The research on the technical parameters of the third generation device was done between 1986-1991 and finalized in 1992. The improvements over previous devices were made by researching and studying scientific literature, investigating bee biology and behavior when affected by electrical current, the frequency and optimum voltage needed to cause bees to sting and the most suitable material needed to protect the venom from contamination; all of this bearing in mind the safety of the collector and the environment. The requirements established for the new device include:
- Optimal parameters to obtain the venom;
- Parameters well tested and supported by field studies;
- Specifications supported by scientific literature;
- Consistency of parameters during the collection;
- Consistently high venom quality;
- Method of collection not lethal to bees;
- Ease of use and durability under field conditions;
- Elimination of foreign contaminants and minimization of photooxidation.
Bee venom collector devices, developed to these requirements, are used on over 1,000 colonies for annual venom collection.
Venom collection has hazards and even lethal side effects for the unprepared venom collector and may impact the immediate environment. For the protection of both, safety equipment, guidelines and protocols have been developed.
To ensure consistency between the venom collected from individual collection sites and venom collected annually, quality control measures are used. The standardization of raw material relies on the following factors:
- Personnel - The Venom Collector;
- Equipment - Collector Device;
- Material Source - Bees;
- Raw Material - Venom;
- Evaluation of the Finished Product;
Bee venom obtained with third generation collector devices meet the expectations of the scientific community and is currently being used in grant supported studies for multiple sclerosis, arthritis and shingles and in various products. Details of venom collection, safety aspects and the quality control of bee venom will be discussed in detail during the presentation.
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