Bee venom is being used to plump and smooth skin, added to beauty products. But does this work, and what does this mean for bees?
Bee venom properties
Bee venom has over 20 compounds (that we know about), with one in particular being melittin, a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antiviral.
When it comes to the skin itself, bee venom tricks the skin into thinking it has been stung. Blood is redirected to the site of application, stimulating the fibroblast skin cells responsible for collagen and elastic production. This, over time, will strengthen and smooth skin, so yes, it has an effect when used over time, but it may not be the most effective way of achieving this. (We have a lot of tools!)
Collecting venom the non-lethal way
Normally when a bee stings, it’s stinger separates from its body, and the bee dies. Thankfully the developers of bee-venom products have devised a better way to extract the venom.
The latest method of venom extraction is to have fabric-covered plates with conductor wires stretched across them. As the bee lands on the plate, the wire electrocutes it (mildly), causing the bee to sting, and the venom drops on the plate.
The fabric is very thin, so the stinger isn’t trapped, but passes through. The bee can fly away alive, but a bit agitated – agitated enough to sting, which in normal circumstances would cause it to die (though it doesn’t know this).
Once venom is in the air, the other bees sting more. Apparently honeybees that are subjected to this treatment live normal lives in a hive, and have been observed to produce more honey than their non-stinging counterparts. (We’re not sure why though.)
Want something more effective than bee venom?
We have tools.