Bee venom (apitoxin) is a complex mixture of biologically active components such as proteins, enzymes, and amines. It is light-colored, non-odorous with a bitter, acidic taste liquid. The collected venom dries quickly at room temperature, turning into a yellow-brownish powder crystalline mass.
Bee venom is secreted by a gland that is present in the abdominal cavity of the bee. The baby bees start producing bee venom after three days old, but its amount reaches a maximum after 2-3 weeks old and then decreases upon aging. In general, the amount of bee venom production reaches a peak value in the spring and summer. However, it is challenging to obtain the venom from each bee as its amount is minute. Therefore, an electroshocking method is commonly applied by the beekeepers to harvest more substantial amounts. In that method, there are various tools used together; equipment composed of battery, inverter, and impulse current regulator, harvesting frames with a wire screen that is capable of transferring electricity, glass plates, and finally a thin polyethylene membrane that can be stretched in those pieces of equipment. Those tools can be placed in front of the flight zone of the hive or inside of the hive.
Bees sting and release their venoms as a spray onto the surface of the glass plate when they are exposed to the electricity by touching the wire screen. Then, glass plates are removed from the hive and left in a clean room for about one day. As the venom dries quickly, it can be scraped from the surface using a putty knife and stored in an amber-colored container at -4 oF for a couple of years without any quality deterioration.