Covid: Do your bees have the cure?

Well, I hope you enjoyed your break away from my blog. I did. Sometimes its nice to hit that big fat reset button in the middle of the desk. I hit it when my head fell on my desk one afternoon and just stayed there. I’m feeling a little better now.

You must be tired of all the Covid-19 stuff by now, but that’s exactly where I’m picking up my blog today. I just read a paper written by someone in Wuhan, China – the place the virus began. I have limited confidence in their study because it has grandiose statements and is a one-off. But it was allowed on the US government’s National Institute of Health website, so maybe it carries some truth. I’ll leave it to you to decide, but I still don’t fully trust it. The paper makes bold claims about the extreme effectiveness of bee stings as protection against Covid-19. In short, it seems too good to be true.

However, as a matter of general interest, here’s an excerpt from the study (read the full piece here) that relates how beekeepers in the Wuhan area seemed immune to Covid-19 during their epidemic:

“In Hubei province, the epicentre of COVID-19 in China, the local beekeepers association conducted a survey of beekeepers. A total of 5115 beekeepers were surveyed from February 23 to March 8, including 723 in Wuhan, the outbreak epicentre of Hubei. None of these beekeepers developed symptoms associated with COVID-19, and their health was totally normal.

After that, we interviewed five apitherapists in Wuhan and followed 121 patients of their apitherapy clinic. These patients had received apitherapy from October 2019 to December 2019, and all the five bee apitherapists have the habit of self-apitherapy for their own health care (apitherapy means making use of bee venom from the honeybee’s sting to treat or prevent certain diseases). Without any protective measures, two of the five apitherapists were exposed to suspected COVID-19 cases and others were exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases, but none of them were infected eventually. None of the 121 patients were infected by SARS-CoV-2, and three of them had close contact with immediate family members who were confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection cases.”

There have been other claims that apitherapy (bee stings) will prevent or cure the novel corona virus. I don’t follow unproven, untested medical advice. Bee sting therapy may be effective in relieving some ailments, but the newness of Covid-19 has not allowed proper and thorough testing. And, as always, we need to remind ourselves of the potential fatal impact of bee stings on hypersensitive people. Further, practicing medicine without a licence is a serious offence.

However, this whole thing is intriguing. Bee stings can stimulate the immune system. If you get stung regularly, please comment below. Have you been tested for C-19? Did you have the virus? Whatever your answer – or thoughts on this story – be sure to let us know.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ron has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with the blog at badbeekeepingblog.com. Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site: miksha.com.
This entry was posted in Apitherapy, Science, Stings, Strange, Odd Stuff and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Covid: Do your bees have the cure?

  1. Well, that would be wonderful if it turned out to be true. All the locals who object to apiaries would be lining up for stings at the beeyard…
    It is important to note that that doctor was posting because he wants someone with more resources to do a proper study of this matter. He admitted his sample size was small and that other factors may be at play. I wonder if perhaps some of these exposed persons may have had very mild cases of COVID and did not think they were sick? One possibility. But….fingers crossed!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mteresalisi says:

    I’m a beekeeper in Italy. I haven’t been tested for Covid 19 and haven’t had any symptoms of the disease. Bees sting me very often (perhaps they don’t like me very much) and I’m in good health.
    Thank you Ron for letting me know about this study, even if it’s a bit difficult to believe. I was missing your blog very much…hope to hear from you soon!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      I didn’t get stung from October until April, so I didn’t have regular bee venom exposure. In mid-March I was rather ill with some sort of virus. I didn’t get tested, but had Covid symptoms at the time. If apitherapy helps, I suspect one has to be getting honey bee stings almost daily to keep the virus down – if bee venom has any beneficial effects against it at all.

      Thanks for the kind words about this blog. I enjoy writing it, but I need to make blogging part of my schedule again!

      Ron

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Granny Roberta says:

    Sorry you were sick. Glad you’re better.
    I’m always happy to let people believe any hive products are good for whatever they want to believe, but apitherapy is supposed to be good for arthritis and bee stings have never cured mine.
    Also, haven’t been tested for Covid19, haven’t had symptoms, and I believe I’ll continue to rely on public mask-wearing rather than my bees’ kind attentions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Apiarist says:

    Hello Ron
    Welcome back. Whether it was Covid or not it’s good you shook it off to blog another day …
    I’m highly sceptical about that report. I’m not sure if figures from Wuhan have been published, but in Europe ‘exposure’ measured by seroconversion seems to be quite low (around 5% in Germany I think). With low level exposure and relatively small sample sizes there’s a good chance the entire thing is statistically insignificant. If 95% of the population seroconverted and the beekeepers all remained fighting fit I’d want to look at it in more detail.
    And of course all we’re told is that the beekeepers were healthy, not that they hadn’t had an asymptomatic infection (which I now see has already been suggested).
    With the upturn in cases (here in parts of the UK, and in several US states) it’s clear we’re nothing like out of the woods yet. My bees aren’t aggressive enough (thankfully) to regularly boost my immune system, so I’m going to rely on handwashing, a mask and a healthy dose of social distancing.
    Take care
    David

    Liked by 1 person

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