Bee venom seems to be the ingredient of the moment as an anti ageing ingredient in skin care and, though touted as natural and cruelty free, it didn’t feel right to us so we did a bit of investigating….
When extracting the venom, the main method which keeps the bees alive is to put a collector frame at the entrance of a hive and through this a small electric current is passed. Not enough to kill the bees but enough to get them feeling angry enough to sting. They sting through a membrane behind which is a glass plate, this is the section of the ‘extraction device’ which collects the venom. The membrane is supposed to be of the right density to allow the stingers to pass through without being detached from the bee so as to avoid killing it.
We’ve read that some bees do die, either from being so angry that they sting one of their fellow bees (so they both die) or because of the collection process itself (presumably as a result of the electric current or because the stinger becomes detached).
Though better than the alternative collection method of killing the bees by removing the entire stinger and venom sack, we don’t know how anyone can call giving a bee an electric shock to extract its venom cruelty free? In our eyes it’s certainly not justifiable for a beauty product, ‘miracle’ anti ageing or not!
Bee populations are in decline, without them to pollinate our crops we face a future of food shortages. Is this really the best way to treat them?
Update 28.06.13 – Good news! We’ve just discovered that Ecocert will no longer award their Greenlife natural and organic cosmetic standard to products containing Bee Venom. Let’s hope that other certifying bodies follow their lead.