The Buzz on Bee Products

Promote your health with honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis.

| May/June 2005

  • Worker bees are fed royal jelly for their first three days of life, and have a lifespan of about 40 days. Queen bees are fed royal jelly throughout their lives and live for 4 to 5 years.

  • Honey, the most widely used bee product, can be applied to the skin to help heal cuts and burns.
  • Apitherapy is the use of all bee products - honey, propolis, bee collected pollen, beeswax, drone larvae extract and royal jelly.

My father’s the kind of guy who does things for himself. He tills his own garden, cuts his own wood and makes his own mulch. When he wanted new kitchen cabinets, he built them. A new house? He built that, too. Now, that’s not an outlandish project for a master carpenter. But when he started doctoring his arthritis with a pair of tweezers and a jar of bees, I worried.

I shouldn’t have. A man who reads widely, with a keen interest in natural healing, George Allison knows a lot about alternative medicine. I’m supposed to be the health writer in the family, but Dad knew the buzz on bee products way before I did. He knew about bee pollen before bee pollen was cool — he’s been taking it to keep allergies and sinus trouble at bay for 20 years now. So when his knees began hurting so much it was difficult to work, it seemed natural to treat them naturally. Once he read Charles Mraz’s book on relieving arthritis pain with beestings, he decided to give bee venom therapy a go.

Sting Operation

Dad’s not alone. It’s difficult to estimate the number of people Mraz’s book, Health and the Honeybee (Queen City, 1995), has benefited, but thousands of readers have purchased a copy. A Vermont beekeeper who pioneered the use of bee venom in the United States, Mraz was convinced that it worked wonders on all forms of arthritis, as well as on the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis. Mraz, who died in 1999 at age 94, ran a small clinic in Vermont and traveled the world advocating apitherapy (from the Latin name for the honeybee, Apis mellifera) for more than 40 years.

Physician and beekeeper Théodore Cherbuliez, M.D., met Mraz two decades ago at a conference. They soon established a friendship and met often to discuss apitherapy. For the past 20 years, Cherbuliez has consulted approximately 150 patients a year on the benefits of bee venom therapy, and he affirms its positive results.

All About Apitherapy

Cherbuliez is quick to point out that the honeybee’s sting isn’t the only aspect of apitherapy. Apitherapy is the use of all bee products, including those from the hive, such as honey, propolis, bee-collected pollen, beeswax, drone larvae extract and royal jelly.

Cherbuliez, who is president of the Apitherapy Commission of Apimondia, an international federation of beekeepers’ associations, says that bee products work best in combination and that each individual will respond according to his or her own bodily needs. The idea behind apitherapy is the basis of natural healing itself: that we can increase health by encouraging the body to combat illness.

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