Bee venom collector shines new hope for Uganda

Tuesday August 16 2016
seeds06 pic

A bee venom collector. COURTESY PHOTO

Experiencing a bee sting could be the last thing on your mind but if you have ever been stung by a bee, you already have first-hand experience of the basics of extraction of bee-venom, which is used for apitherapy.
The only difference between the sting you got and the therapeutic kind is that yours might have been accidental.

Well, bee venom therapy is a slowly but steadily growing trend in Uganda. In addition to honey, local bee keepers are starting to harvest bee venom more so with home grown innovations.
The Ugandan version of the bee venom collector manufactured by Malaika Honey is yet another technology that is to take the industry to a whole new level.
Speaking to Daily Monitor, Semanda Martin, manager at Forever Forestry at Lubowa said, “I have always wanted to exploit bees beyond just honey but I didn’t know how to get the venom collector until I learnt that there was a Ugandan company that makes them,”

“The reason is that a growing number of people in Uganda are now beginning to use non-conventional methods of treatment. This is understandable, because the use of drugs is often expensive, and they are not always effective. So we are now turning to the bees for their venom,” he added.

While the venom collector machine from South Korea will cost about $2,000 (Shs6.5m), the Ugandan version goes for just Shs600,000 with a guarantee of two years.
Unlike honey which is a little cheaper, bee farmers are set to reap big from this line of the value chain as venom pays almost triple than other bee products.

For instance, while a kilogram of honey goes for an estimated Shs10,000 one gram of venom is currently at Shs60,000 on the local market. It will also be exhibited during the national honey week due in August in Kampala.

Lilian Ahairwe, Malaika Honey communications officer, explained that the bee venom collector works on the principle of irritation of bees as the device is divided into mechanical and electrical parts, the tiny low voltage electric wires run over a clear thin sheet of glass.
The bee will sting through the wires on the smooth glass surface releasing the toxin but not pulling out the barb, so the bee will live on.
“When irritated or in shock, the bees do what naturally comes to them—sting and release the bee venom,”
Bee venom contains melittin, histamine, peptides and other biogenic amines that have been used to treat arthritis and other painful conditions. According to a 2013 report by Washington University School of Medicine, bee venom destroys HIV and spares surrounding cells. It has also become very popular in the west as an anti-ageing cream.


How to collect bee venom

-Connect the device to the battery
-Take the machine close to the hive entrance
-Make sure the bees are aggressive, if they are not try to disturb them by either knocking or shaking the hive
-Leave the machine at the entrance for about 40 minutes to one hour
-Switch off the venom collector, remove the machine and rub off the bees with a bee brush
-Turn off the electric wires on top of the machine and scrub the venom of the screen using a hive tool
-Store the venom in a clean dark container

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