Entries in Bees (3)


Bee Venom May Provide Protection Against HIV

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A toxin contained in bee venom may have the ability to prevent HIV infection when packaged properly.

Researchers at Washington University in Saint Louis, tested a specific delivery system of the toxin, called melittin, in lab dishes and found that "super-tiny blobs" of the bee venom component can attach to and destroy the HIV virus, according to Science News.

The nanoparticles of melittin selectively attached to the HIV virus and poked holes in its protein coat. The result, according to the study, was sharply diminished amounts of the virus.

The researchers also tested the toxin on cells from vaginal walls, due to the frequency of HIV entering the body through the vagina. The treatment being studied did not have any negative impact on the human cells because of protective structures attached to their outsides. According to Science News, the structures prevent the nanoparticles from attaching to healthy human cells.

The study, published in Antiviral Therapy, has a long way to go before a functional drug can be developed, but is exciting nonetheless. According to Science News, the nanoparticles must still be proven able to be produced in a uniform manner and would require adhesive properties to prevent the toxin from entering the bloodstream.

Nonetheless, Antony Gomes from the University of Calcutta in India told Science News, "There are very few reports available on venom-based treatment against viruses. This type of research has the potential to proceed further for product development.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Bee Attack Sends Two Californians to the Hospital

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIO, Calif.) -- Angry bees swarmed two people in Indio, Calif. Tuesday morning, sending them to the hospital with almost 200 stings in all.

Dr. Wesley Burks, who chairs the University of North Carolina’s pediatrics department and has a 30-year career that involves working with skin allergies, said an attack like that is rare. If fact, he’s never seen one firsthand.

“Generally, you see somebody stung once or maybe five to ten times, but not 80 or 100,” Burks said. “I’ve talked to people that have seen them … but it’s less than a handful.”

A gardener in Indio, whose name was not released, was trimming a palm tree just before 7 a.m. local time, when he apparently irritated the bees and prompted them to swarm around him, said Matt Kotz, a Riverside County firefighter, in an interview with ABC News. The homeowner, an elderly woman, came out to help, but the bees attacked her as well.

When Kotz and the other firefighters arrived, the bees were still attacking the victims on the ground, Kotz said. He said he watched as another crew sprayed the bees with water to fight them off.

The bees stung the woman more than 100 times, and they stung the homeowner more than 80 times, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Burks said a large number of stings like this can often lead to anaphylactic shock -- even if the patient is not allergic to bee stings.

Each sting releases proteins into the victim’s body, causing swelling and eventually resulting in a histamine reaction -- as if the body were reacting to an allergy. Sometimes, that swelling can even affect the victim’s ability to breathe, Burks said.

Burks said bee stings generally affect people the same way, regardless of age, but conditions like hypertension and diabetes can make it harder to respond and recover.

No firefighters were injured because they wore gloves and bee hoods in addition to their helmets, Kotz said.

Although firefighters are trained to kill bees with the same foam they use to put out fire, Kotz said the bees were left alone after the attack.

“We didn’t want to kill the swarm,” Kotz said. “Obviously bees do good to the environment … and they weren’t actively stinging.”

He said the bees were on private property and posed no risk once the attack ended. The fire department left it up to the homeowner to decide whether to remove them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bees Drink Human Sweat, Tears

Illustration. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Though they’re not as popular as their honeybee cousins, sweat sucking and tear drinking bees are making a buzz in cities across the country.

“They use humans as a salt lick,” John Ascher, who oversees the a database of 700,000 species of bee at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told the Wall Street Journal.

Ascher discovered Lasioglossum gotham, New York City’s very own sweat bee, while walking through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The tiny insects rarely sting and might even go unnoticed on a sweaty arm or leg. But researchers in Thailand went one step further, allowing bees to sip from their eyes.

“On landing, automatic blinking with the eye often prevented the bee from getting a firm hold, causing it to fall off the eyelashes,” the researchers wrote in a study titled, “Bees That Drink Human Tears.” “If so, the bee persistently tried again and again until it was successful, or finally gave up and flew off.”

When the odd bee did latch on, the researcher was often unaware. But when several bees set up shop, it was a different story.

“The experience was rather unpleasant, causing strong tear flow,” the authors wrote in the 2009 study published in the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. “Once a bee had settled and more were approaching, these tended to settle near each other in a row. Closing the eye did not necessarily dislodge bees but some continued to suck at the slit. They were even able to find and settle at closed eyes.”

Sweat suckers and tear drinkers favored bodily fluids over smoked fish, fresh meat, gruyere cheese and the chocolaty treat Ovaltine, according to the study. The researchers suspect salt or other proteins and sweat and tears provide vital nutrients for the tiny workers — something to keep in mind on those hot summer days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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