Biochemistry: How to Milk a Bee

The easiest way to obtain bee venom is to get stung. But the method is plainly neither pleasant nor practical. Scientists anxious to gather the poison usually settle for a more cautious approach. They collect live insects, grab them one at a time with a pair of tweezers, then deftly slice out the venom sac; or else they persuade the stinging insects to discharge their poison through a rubber membrane.

Either system is wasteful: the bees are destroyed. But now. Dr. Rod O'Connor and a team of Montana State College chemists have developed a bee-milking method that allows not only the...

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