Bee venomBee venom, medically Apitoxin, is the poison of honeybees, a mixture of various acid and alkaline secretions. It is injected into the opponent as an insect sting with a venom stinger. One honeybee can squirt about 0.1 mg of venom. Bee venom is acidic (pH 4.5-5.5) and has a yellowish-opalescent color.
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Effect on humans
A bee sting causes a local inflammation and has an anticoagulant effect. In general it is painful but harmless. 50 bee stings can already be life-threatening for a person, but some people are said to have survived even several hundred stings. In the case of stings on sensitive areas such as the respiratory tract, mucous membranes or eye area, special caution is advisable: see a doctor immediately! Basically, you should cool down the swelling. Bee venom is comparable to snake venom or the active ingredients in stinging nettle.
People who are allergic to insect venom are particularly at risk, as even a single sting can be fatal. Allergists estimate the prevalence of insect venom allergies at 1% of the population.
Bee venom is a complex mixture of different proteins. The main ingredient is melittin (52%). It has an anti-inflammatory effect (100 times stronger than cortisone). Protects cells from destruction in cases of severe inflammation.
Apamin, another bee venom ingredient, causes increased cortisol production in the adrenal cortex, but is also known as a neurotoxin. Cortisol is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Adolapin (2-5%) is anti-inflammatory and has an analgesic effect by inhibiting cyclooxygenase: see analgesic.
Interesting is also the phospholipase A2 with 10-12% of venom. This is the most destructive component of bee venom. Phospholipase A2 is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolytic cleavage of phospholipids. A major component of biological membranes, lecithin, thus becomes lysolecithin, a powerful detergent that attacks cell membranes. clinically it causes lowering of blood prere. To decrease the clotting ability of blood. Phospholipase A2 leads to the release of arachidonic acid from phospholipids. This quadruply unsaturated fatty acid is the starting material of prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins control inflammatory reactions and blood clotting in the body, among other things. Many of them are strongly pain-producing. Wasp venom contains more phospholipase A1 than A2.
Hyaluronidase (1-3 %) dilates the blood vessels and their permeability, thus causing the inflammation to spread (Engl. spreading factor).
Histamine (0.5-2%) has the same effect and is often used in medicine for the treatment of rheumatism. Dopamine and norepinephrine (1-2%) cause higher activity and increase heartbeat. For the exact mode of action see the relevant articles.
Protease inhibitors (2 %) have an anti-inflammatory and hemostatic effect.
The pain-increasing acetylcholine contained in hornet venom is not found in bee venom.
Finally, alarm pheromones (4-8 %) should not be underestimated. They signal to other bees that one of their colony has been attacked and they should prepare themselves for defense. So it is best to wash the puncture site after the sting and of course remove the sting.