Harvey’s bees are buzzing to help bolster a one-of-a-kind study into the quality of their venom and the benefits it can have to human health. Venom from honeybees is sold for as high as $300/g and is used as effective treatment for degenerative and infectious diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Curtin University researchers have assessed how ecological and behavioural factors can influence the quality of the venom produced, and hope further research will help beekeepers collect a standardised quality of venom. Honeybee venom was collected from 25 Harvey-based hives in the South West’s marri ecosystem during the marri, or red gum, flowering season. For the first time, the research analysed protein diversity in the venom, studying effects such as the activeness of the bees, ecosystem temperature, and geographical location. Lead researcher Dr Daniela Scaccabarozzi said the research would be of substantial benefit to both human health and the lucrative beekeeping business. “We found there are 99 bee venom proteins, of which about one third had been formerly identified,” she said. “To understand the protein diversity of bee venom and find out what drivers impacted this, the multidisciplinary research team looked at a range of factors. “Interestingly, we discovered that the ‘angry bees’ that reacted intensively to our stimulating devices produced a richer, more protein-dense bee venom. “Of the 25 hives tested, we discovered that the sites with higher temperatures recorded lower venom production.” Bee Industry Council of WA representative Stephen Fewster said bee venom production was usually carried out commercially and used in the healthcare and medical industry. “Usually the red gums are very good at producing bees, and if you get a lot of bees you get a lot of bee venom, particularly in the Harvey area,” Mr Fewster said. “Extractors use a landing pad they put in front of the hive, and the bees are electrocuted but don’t die.” The study was funded by the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries Regional Development Export Competitiveness Grants and the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre.