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A previously unknown honeybee defence weapon against varroa and a potential new natural anaesthetic for humans.

Researchers have discovered that honeybees can bite as well as sting and that the bite contains a natural anaesthetic. The anaesthetic may not only help honeybees fend off pests such as wax moth and the parasitic varroa mite, but it also has great potential for use in human medicine.

The surprise findings discovered by a team of researchers from Greek and French organisations in collaboration with Vita (Europe) Ltd, the UK-based honeybee health specialist, will cause a complete re-thinking of honeybee defence mechanisms and could lead to the production of a natural, low toxicity local anaesthetic for humans and animals.

The natural anaesthetic that has been discovered in the bite of the honeybee and measured at the University of Athens is 2-heptanone (2-H), a natural compound found in many foods and also secreted by certain...

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