Kate Middleton may have been using venom from New Zealand bees as a face treatment ahead of her wedding.

The royal bride is reported to have taken the beauty tip from Prince William's stepmother, the Duchess of Cornwall.

The Bee Venom Mask, supposedly an alternative to botox, was credited last year with making Camilla, 63, look years younger.

The cream, which is sold online and in specialist boutiques, is said to work by gently stinging the skin, leaving a tingling sensation and causing the body to direct blood flow to the area.

It claims to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which reduce wrinkles by relaxing and strengthening the muscles.

Beauty therapist Deborah Mitchell, who runs the Heaven salon in Shropshire, in the West Midlands, sources the venom from organic hives at Nelson Honey, in Tapawera, 30km south of Nelson.

The company was last month ordered by Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) to stop selling pots of honey, which includes the bee venom, in the UK.

The FSA ruled there was not enough evidence to prove that eating the venom was safe - triggering a Europe-wide ban.

To extract the venom, a pane of glass is placed alongside the hive and a small electrical current is run through it, which encourages the insects to sting the surface.

Tiny quantities of the venom are then collected and sent to Britain.

It costs £27,000 ($55,200) an ounce but the venom is diluted, to make it less painful to apply, to just 1 per cent of the mask. A 50ml jar costs £55 ($112).

The cream is also mixed with New Zealand Manuka honey, shea butter and rose and lavender oils.

Used twice a day for 20 minutes, the bee treatment can apparently knock up to 10 years off facial appearance.

Ms Mitchell is also reported to treat other celebrities such as Dannii Minogue, Michelle Pfeiffer and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Ms Mitchell has said: "The bee venom completely changed Dannii Minogue and my other clients love it so much that we have waiting lists."