If somebody asked you to describe a bee, I bet the first thing you would mention is it’s stinger. For most people, the honey bee is either loved or feared.
They love the bee for it’s wonderful contribution to the environment and our gardens, thanks to the vital pollination service it gives. And let’s not forget the delicious raw honey that they share with us too. But it’s feared equally, as it carries a punchy sting in its tail to ward off unwanted attention.
For most of us, we won’t often encounter the fierce defensive nature of the honey bee, unless we are provoking them or invading their hive, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway unless you are a beekeeper.
If left alone, a honey bee will go about it’s daily business in a gentle, peaceful way. There really is no need to fear them.
Now what if somebody suggested that you should voluntarily be stung by a bee? Not just once, but multiple times. You’d probably think that they were crazy for saying such a ludicrous thing. Well, here is the thing – bee venom is considered by many a natural painkiller.
Bee venom therapy
Thousands of people around the world each year choose to receive multiple bee stings on various parts of their bodies. These people are not necessarily sadistic, although I can’t rule that out for some of them, but the vast majority are hoping to reap the benefits of bee venom therapy. It’s not a new thing either. In fact, apitherapy or bee venom therapy as it’s commonly known has been used for well over a thousand years and was included in the medical writings of Hippocrates (c.460 – 359 BC).
Who can benefit from bee venom therapy?
Although the idea of enduring quite a few bee stings in one go may not be everyone’s cup of tea, many arthritis sufferers swear by its pain relieving benefits.
Bee sting therapy is also thought to help ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis , tendonitis, and fibromyalgia.
Does it actually work?
Pain it seems is a very subjective thing. Bee venom therapy may work for some people and not so well for others. But let’s add a little bit of science to the mix. Bee venom is made up of 88 per cent water, fructose and phospholipids. It also contains pharmacologically active elements, enzymes, peptides and amines. Melitten, which causes the pain during a sting, is one of those peptides and stimulates the production of cortisol, which is an anti-inflammatory. It is this anti-inflammatory response that provides the natural relief from arthritic pain.
Numerous clinical trials indicate the possibility that bee venom therapy works, but more controlled research is needed.
Can a beekeeper give me bee venom therapy?
It is not in the realm of a beekeeper to administer this kind of service. Only trained therapists should administer modern day bee venom therapy from a direct bee sting or by a bee venom injection.
What are my own thoughts on bee venom therapy?
Well, as a beekeeper and a nature lover, my job is to look after my bees, keep them safe and give them the ideal environment to let them make as much honey as they can. For my efforts, they kindly share it with me.
But I do get my fair share of stings whilst tending to my hives. Fortunately for me, I do not yet suffer from any ongoing aches or pains that arthritis would burden me with. Maybe in another 20 years I’ll be able to tell you if my own bee stings have helped me in that department.
Beware – Allergic reactions!
DO NOT attempt to get stung in your garden by a flying visitor and certainly DO NOT harass a honey bee colony by plonking your hands into the depths of a hive. That won’t end well that’s for sure.
My advice to anybody reading this who is considering bee venom therapy to treat arthritis or other conditions, is to seek the advice of a trained therapist first. They will invite you along, have a chat with you, and ensure you will not run into any allergic reactions.
It comes as no surprise that most stings occur in curious young children and our pet dogs. Read my post on how to treat a bee sting to keep tears and pain to a minimum this summer.