Friday, May 02, 2008

Bee Venom Expert Describes Collection Process

Obtaining Pure Bee Venom for the Production of Injectable Apitoxin of High Quality: Specific Methods and Equipment

By Eng. Carlos Litwin, Farmacia del Lago, Las Termas de Rio, Hondo, Argentina

[Editor's Note: The following presentation were offered at the 6th German Apitherapy and Apipuncture Congress held in Passau from March 27th to April 1st.]

The Argentinian Association of Apitherapy worked very hard along with producers and apitherapists all through the year 2007 in order to inform about the importance of the quality in the products extracted from beehives. Special emphasis was given to the methods of extraction and bottling/packing on behalf of beekeepers and makers of the fine products bees provide.

It is known that pollen, royal jelly, honey, propolis and bee venom are photosensitive and thermolabile substances. They are also easily contaminated. Consequently, an error in the extraction, production, and bottling/packaging causes irreversible changes and loss in the properties of these valuable and rare apicultural products.

Thus, when used for apitherapy, the expected results are no longer obtained. That is why the Argentinian Association of Apitherapy, with Doctor Julio Cesar Diaz as president, is now aiming to professional apitherapy to catch up to science standards.

No one should make any treatments in which the origin and conditions of products as well as the methods used for their extractions are not guaranteed.

The main topic in this work is the production of dry bee venom for the making of medicines. I started the extraction in 1992, after doing several courses with Engineer Cornejo in La Plata.

From then on I began to investigate how to extract bee venom so that it would not get contaminated, lose its properties or cause damage to the beehive. The results have been encouraging provided that the right selection of beehives allowed me to work without causing trouble in the beehives.

Italian bees, known by their calmness and productivity are the most important in Argentina. The weather is a fundamental aspect. You should work on sunny days, over 22° C with a forecast of no rain for the next three days. Of course beehives must be in good sanitary and nutritional condition. Besides, you should visit no more than 80 beehives each time. This is just a piece of advice provided that working with more beehives has proved no harm.

The electronic extractors I own allow me to work with 40 beehives every 40 minutes. I place the frames at the entrance of the beehives (never inside the beehive because this causes trouble). Then I turn on the extractors for 10 minutes (15 volts). This makes the bees sting the glass. After 10 minutes I turn off the extractors for five minutes to renew the bees in the frames (some tend to stay and go on stinging instead of getting into the colony). Let them sting endlessly makes no sense because the first sting is the one which ejects most of the venom. Then I turn on the extractors again and repeat that once more. When I take out the frame with the stung glasses, the beehive re-starts normal activity in 5-10 minutes. This is a much less aggressive process than the extraction of honey or pollen.

Once the job is finished, glasses are put in a box and taken to a dark, dry room where the humidity of the venom will evaporate. After 24-48 hours, you can scrape the glasses and bottle the dry venom, then keep it in a freezer for conservation, having been properly labeled before. Venom must not be in contact with oxygen at any time.

All along the process, everything must be handled with care so as:

* Bees will not die (this is as important as the quality of venom).
* Venom is not in contact with the bee (after being ejected). Otherwise, it can be contaminated with the bees, feces, pollen, honey, or droplets in the air. This is accomplished with a filter.
* Venom extracted must not be in contact with oxygen (it will lose properties).

In ¨Farmacia del Lago¨ we only use the venom I produce, under the surveillance of Biologist Néstor Urtubey who has worked on the production of injections and lotions made with apitoxin for over 20 years. This guarantees safe and efficient therapy which has been proved by hundreds of apitherapist doctors all over the world.

In Argentina many apitherapist doctors use our injections in different ways: intradermic, subcutaneous, intraarticular and sometimes intravenous with excellent results. Some of their experiences are available on DVD´s about the First Congress on Apitoxinotherapy, carried out in Termas de Río Hondo, Santiago del Estero, Argentina in May 2007.

In 20 years after many applications, our injections have proved to be harmless, without causing allergies. This is due to the technology developed in ¨Farmacia del Lago¨ by the Biologist Nestor Urtubey (which is not possible when used directly with bees). We do know these techniques produce allergic reactions, sometimes in high percentages.

I am sure we are setting a standard by making first quality products, which have been developed with the adequate technology so as to obtain the safest and most effective injections, lotions and other products based on apitoxin for medical use.

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