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Biotech The Almighty Buck

Bee Venom Has "Botox-Like Effect," Is Worth 7 Times As Much As Gold 248

dryriver writes "The BBC reports that cosmetic products using bee venom as an ingredient are a new 'hot seller' in the cosmetics market. Bee venom is said to have an effect on female skin similar to Botox injections, tightening the skin and making wrinkles and other signs of aging appear less pronounced than before. Unlike Botox, however, bee venom does not need to be injected, and can be absorbed through the skin naturally as an ingredient of cosmetic skin creme. Now comes the kicker: A special electrified device that causes bees to sting a synthetic membrane and release their venom can harvest about one gram of bee venom from 20 bee hives. That one gram of bee venom is worth a whopping 350 dollars. This makes bee venom almost seven times more valuable than gold, which, in comparison, is worth only about 53 dollars per gram."
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Bee Venom Has "Botox-Like Effect," Is Worth 7 Times As Much As Gold

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  • Re:Botox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by calzones ( 890942 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:46AM (#42379429)

    Why female skin is a more apt question.

    Does it not work for guys or is it an assumption that guys aren't interested in looking younger?

  • Re:Botox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:47AM (#42379433)

    This is Slashdot. We have a proud tradition of not reading the articles, summaries, or even headlines, and then spouting inaccurate, misinformed idiocy and feeling smug about what "experts" we are.

  • by theIsovist ( 1348209 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:48AM (#42379437)
    Bee's die after stinging, which means that you're losing twenty hives of bees for only $350. That sounds like a huge loss to any bee keeper. That also seems like a hell of a lose of bees that are already suffering from sudden colony collapse... Am I wrong here?
  • price comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@ p o> on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:53AM (#42379455)

    "This makes Bee Venom almost seven times more valuable than Gold, which, in comparison, is worth only about 53 Dollars per 1 gram."

    So it costs the same as ink for my printer, data for my cellphone, gas for my car (soon), and clean drinking water (later).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:54AM (#42379463)

    I believe they only die if their stinger breaks off. One would assume that the membrane is designed to leave the stinger intact.

  • by Demonantis ( 1340557 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @01:25AM (#42379591)
    There are a ton of products more valuable than gold. I don't understand why that is a big deal. Hopefully this makes honey cheaper with the extra source of income.
  • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @02:33AM (#42379821) Homepage Journal

    to have an effect on female skin

    Male skin is not affected, thusly.

  • A small correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @03:16AM (#42379909)

    Botox injections, tightening the skin and making wrinkles and other signs of aging appear less pronounced...

    Botulinum toxin does not tighten the skin - it paralyses muscles, and since many wrinkles are aggravated by muscles in the skin, paralysing them can make the wrinkles less pronounced. This paralysis is very evident on the faces of many aging celebrities - they simply struggle with producing facial expressions.

    It's a strange thing, isn't it? Instead of accepting their age, people mistreat themselves so they look 'younger', at least when you're not too close. I think it is deeply sad; and it only makes you look less attractive.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @04:37AM (#42380117) Journal

    I can't say I know how the bees feel when electricity is applied to them so that they can produce the venom, but I can tell you that it wouldn't be pleasant.

    In China and in Vietnam people "harvest" bear gall bladder juice by tying up live bears and inserting a tube into the bears - and that practice is deemed "cruelty to animal".

    Should electrocuting bees be considered as cruel, as well?

  • by samoanbiscuit ( 1273176 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @05:26AM (#42380267)
    Not only this, but being arthropods with considerably more primitive nervous systems than mammals, it's yet to be determined if they (insects) even feel pain the same way we do. The reason why mammals such as bears and dolphins seem "cuddly" is because our close evolutionary heritage show characteristics in common between species that elicit a protective and nurturing instinct even between species. Naturalists have filled pages and pages full of anecdotes of mammalian predators who have spared and even gone on to raise young mammals of their prey species; the nurturing instinct is strong and not very discriminating.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2012 @05:51AM (#42380323)

    Does it matter? It's wrong anyway, and especially so since it's not even necessary. Doing this kind of thing should be illegal if it's for cosmetic purposes and/or to make people look/feel better.

  • by Cochonou ( 576531 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @05:53AM (#42380331) Homepage
    It seems that preying mantis cannibalism during sex happens much less frequently in the wild than in captivity.
  • Praise be (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @06:45AM (#42380481)

    Colony collapse disorder? Failure of crop pollenation worldwide? The possible end of agriculture and mass starvations and food riots worldwide? None of that was important enough to save the bees.

    But now, shit, the bees might be able to keep aging Baby Boomers looking young! Nothing can compete with that, the bees are SAVED!

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @09:34AM (#42380957) Homepage

    No, men are vain and insecure in completely different ways, because they have spent their lives being judged for things other than their beauty.

  • by OneAhead ( 1495535 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:19PM (#42384499)

    I used to think like you when I was a kid. Then I discovered reality is more nuanced and the science on this is surprisingly soft.

    Nervous system morphology: yes, arthropods' nervous systems surely looks different from ours, with one large ganglion in the head and multiple somewhat smaller ganglia controlling motoric and digestive functions. But to conclude from this that they can't possibly feel pain is a huge leap of logic. An insect brain is organized much like a crustacean's brain, and a crustacean's brain is capable of complex behaviour. []

    Nervous system organization: suppose you want to argue that our nervous system not only look different, but is organized differently, with everything centralized, as opposed to different ganglia taking care of different functions. Well, the differences are not that huge. Have you ever seen a freshly beheaded chicken? I can tell you, some of them run like hell - a sight so spooky that you won't easily forget it. This is because the act of running originates from the spinal cord, which is still there when you cut off the head. Similarly, it is speculated that the human spinal cord plays an important role in coordinating monotomous tasks such as walking. And the number of neurons associated with coordinating our digestive tract is larger then the number of neurons in a rat, and comes surprisingly close to the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of a dog. [] []

    That bring us to Nervous system size. The above shows that a large structure of neurons is no guarantee for intelligence. On the other hand, there are many studies showing that corvids like crows and magpies show surprisingly intelligent behaviour on a smaller budget of neurons than our digestive system or a dog...

    My point of all this is that neither brain size nor morphology or organization necessarily equates to complexity of function. []
    What does, then? We do not know! And we know even less whether bees can feel pain; nobody ever became a bee and wrote a book about it. The thought of not knowing this might feel threatening to your ethical preconceptions, but it's the hard truth! To make matters worse, the more we learn, the more it looks like some if not most invertebrates are able to experience pain at some level. Funny that we were just talking about administering electric shocks to honeybees: []

    Now the interesting question is: how to build a system of ethics on this (lack of) knowledge. This I cannot answer for you, but the solution I use for myself is attributing gradual weights to the torture of different animals, with molluscs falling into the lowest tier, small insects a bit higher, large crustaceans a bit higher, birds and small mammals a bit higher and "intelligent" mammals even higher. The most important element of my system of ethics is that even the lowest tiers have a nonzero weight and torturing them for no good reason should be avoided.

    Regardless of all the above soft ethics, there's a hard reason why "bee-tox" is a horrible idea. There already is a shortage of honeybees to the extent that fruit farmers start worrying about pollination: []

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman