World Bee Day 2019

World Bee Day, May 20 of each year,  is not just about honey bees. Although the idea arose in Slovenia, a little country that’s really big on honey-bee keeping, it’s also a celebration of all the world’s bees. About 20,000 species – made up of several trillion individuals.

Bees of all sorts are the chief pollinators of the world’s flowers. The flowers that attract bees reseed meadows and forests with progeny that build soil, feed grazing animals, and provide us – the humans – with much of the beauty we see in nature and the food we eat.

The dogwood

Dogwood tree in full glory

From a practical, utilitarian perspective, we might wonder if we really need 20,000 kinds of bees. Aren’t honey bees enough? They pollinate our foods – almonds and apples and so on – while many important foods (rice, wheat, corn) are wind-pollinated. Yet we have a vast array of bees that are not honey-makers. Some of the many ‘extra’ bee species are specialists. For example, the dogwood tree, genus Cornus, are kept alive in part by three rare species of miner bees, the Andrena. Take away the dogwood, with its bold early flash of spring brightness, and the Appalachians would be a more dreary place. In the years when I drove truck loads of honey bees from Florida to Saskatchewan, white and pink dogwoods and yellow forsythia were harbingers of the birth of a new year’s honey cycle. The irony is not lost on me – I carted millions of honey bees (which originated in Europe) from Florida’s orange trees (originally from southeast Asia) to prairie alfalfa (a native of the Middle East). Yet, during my 4,000-kilometre migration, one of the most beautiful sights was the blossoming native dogwood, sustained by a tiny native bee.

We might dismiss the role of the other (approximately) 19,999 species of bees as long as we are keeping our favoured western honey bee functioning. But every species has a role to play in our ecology. The loss of a few kinds of bees (some species have recently gone extinct)  may seem trivial. They may pass unmourned, except by the plants which relied on them for transferring their pollen, and the animals which survived off those plants. The interconnection of the web reminds me of the centuries-old proverb which begins, “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost…” and continues until the entire kingdom was lost.

The BBC, in a little piece about World Bee Day, recounts the 17 bee species which have gone extinct in England’s southeast and the plight of 25 more species that are threatened. The article recognizes the interconnected state of biodiversity and ecology and illuminates the importance of a day for the bees.

So, on this year’s World Bee Day, I’m thinking of the ‘other’ bees as well as those two colonies of honey bees in my back yard.  Meanwhile, I’m ending this note with a bit more about bee day, including a bit (published over the past few years) about how World Bee Day came into existence.

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From 2019:  May 20th should be a big date on the beekeeper’s social calendar. It’s World Bee Day.  Why did I mention 1734? That’s the year Anton Janša was born. He was baptized on May 2oth, the closest date we know to his actual birthdate. Some say that Janša was the first modern beekeeper. You can learn more about him later in this blog post.

As an added bonus, May 20 is also another famous beekeeper’s memorial day.  Charles Dadant, the scion of the infinite Dadant and Sons progression of beekeepers was born in France in 1817. Dadant thought he’d be a revolutionary back in the day, in France, but he ended up in America.  (You can read his story in my piece celebrating his 200th year.) Charles Dadant, born on May 20, 1817, ended up in western Illinois where he wanted to grow grapes for wine. Lucky for us, his beehives did much better than his vineyards.

World Bee Day was initiated in Slovenia, Europe, and has been quickly catching around the world. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded a major speech Wednesday with a rousing endorsement of World Bee Day, telling members of the Bundestag to do something good for the bees:

“I want to finish with something that some may consider insignificant but is actually very important: on May 20 is the first World Bee Day. On this day we should really think about biodiversity and do something good for the bees.”

World Bee Day became World Bee Day after a successful campaign by the country of Slovenia (Anton Janša’s birthplace) to promulgate the message. Their petition to the United Nations was accepted in December 2017, so this year marks the first official World Bee Day.  I’ve been following (and promoting World Bee Day) ever since I heard the effort was underway a couple of years ago, so below you’ll see some of my earlier posts.

Well, a great big congratulations to the Slovenian promoters of World Bee Day. You made it happen on the world stage!  And beekeepers, it’s your job to go out and spread the good word and “do something good for the bees”. If you need some further inspiration, watch this World Bee Day video to fortify your resolve – it’s about the first hive of honey bees kept at the United Nations in New York City.

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FROM 2017:  May 20 is World Bee Day. Seems an appropriate day to celebrate the bee. (So was yesterday; tomorrow would be good, too.) It’s spring north of the equator. I don’t want to neglect our friends south of Earth’s belt, but honey bees began their world-wide conquest by expanding from the northern hemisphere. For most of us in the higher (positive) latitudes, May is a fantastic bee month. Colonies expand, swarm, and maybe even make a little honey.

Portable apiary in Slovenia. (Photo by David Miksa)

Portable apiary in Slovenia. (Photo by David Mikša)

May 20th is also the celebrated birthdate of Anton Janša (1734-1773), the first teacher of modern beekeeping. (It’s ‘celebrated’ on May 20th, which was his baptism date. We don’t know the exact day of his birth.) Anton Janša was Slovenian (hence the funny little squiggle over the ‘s’ in his name). He was so talented that Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa appointed him headmaster at the world’s first beekeeping school, which she built for Janša in Vienna. It’s remarkable that he chose to be baptized on the same day that we would pick centuries later as World Bee Day. That date was chosen and promoted by beekeepers in Janša’s native Slovenia – do the coincidences never end? Now here I am, Ron Mikša (anglicized to Miksha), a bee blogger with grandparents who were born in that part of the world, encouraging you to do a wiggle dance in celebration of World Bee Day this Sunday. Get out and do something beely.

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FROM 2016:  There’s a small country in Central Europe, a very beautiful alpine country, called Slovenia. Slovenia has only two million people, but this tiny country is very big in beekeeping. Tucked between Italy and Austria, it has both mountains and Mediterranean sea coast, creating enticing niches for bees and beekeepers.

Every Slovene family has at least one beekeeper. I think beekeeping might be enshrined in their constitution. I visited before Slovenia adopted the Euro and I paid for a Laško with coins that had images of bees, not presidents or queens. Beekeeping is taken so seriously that the nation’s unofficial motto is “Land of the Good Beekeepers“. The country produces gourmet honey, offers beekeeping tourism, and likes to point out that the Slovenes – the wealthiest Slavic nation in the world – takes its work ethic from the honey bee. On top of all this, I’m proud to say that two of my grandparents were born in Slovenia!  What a remarkable place, eh?

Slovenia convinced the world to recognize World Bee Day, a day for the bees, on the presumed birthday of their most famous beekeeper, Anton Janša.

Janša (pronounced YAN-shah) is a Slovenian national hero and a beekeeper. We don’t really know his birth date – his parents were illiterate farmers and probably wouldn’t have even known (or cared) what year it was. But their church kept track. He was baptized on May 20 in 1734.

Beehive entrance plate, painted by Jansa.

Beehive entrance plate, painted by Janša.

The Janša family was impoverished, but three Janša brothers built an art studio in a barn, got noticed by the village priest, and were whisked off to Vienna, the capital of the Hapsburg Empire, which controlled Slovenia at the time. One of the brothers became an arts professor. Another became a beekeeper. The royal beekeeper.

Anton Janša was the beekeeper. Empress Maria Theresa recognized his skill and appointed him as the queen’s own bee man. Janša created the world’s first beekeeping school, wrote a couple of important beekeeping books, and introduced modern apiary management. He championed expanding hive boxes to hold extra honey and he encouraged migratory beekeeping, moving hives toward the foothills in the spring to collect acacia (black locust) honey, the Alps in the summer for honeydew from the pines, and into lower pastures in the fall. He was among the first to realize that drones are not water-carriers, but instead mated in the air with queen bees. This latter discovery pre-dates Francois Huber’s similar observation by a few decades but was not generally known when Huber rediscovered it. Janša did all this before he turned 40 – he was only 39 when he died suddenly from a fever, likely the result of an infection.

An image from the Slovene World Bee Day promotional video.

An image from the Slovene World Bee Day promotional video, visible below.

Here’s a lovely, short video of what the Slovenes want you to know about World Bee Day:

World Bee Day is a great idea. The exhibition “Save the Bees” will be opening at the historic Ljubljana castle, on May 20. The Slovene embassy in Washington DC had a big party. Elsewhere, awareness and round tables on “Bees and Sustainable Development” and bee memorials abound. World Bee Day is intended as a day to reflect upon the much maligned and threatened bees. A delegation of the European Union is also meeting May 20 with luminaries of the American bee world at a World Bee Initiative, which you can read about here.

WBDWorld Bee Day is immensely important. Maybe that’s why there are two world bee days. A group of Americans petitioned the USDA to create a World Bee Day of their own – on August 20th. While the Americans worked their idea through the US Congress, the Slovenes asked the United Nations to recognize May 20th as World Bee Day. I’m not sure how all this will play out, maybe the two world bee days will merge and be observed sometime in June or July. But I suppose both world bee days will persist, one on a world-scale, the other in the USA. As they say back at the bee lodge, “You can’t have too many World Bee Days, eh?”

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Posted in Ecology, History, Native Bees, Outreach, Save the Bees | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The reason we don’t raise April queens in Alberta

It snowed again. After weeks of sweet weather, balmy enough for T-shirts, the bees quit hauling pollen and focused on hibernation.  This is the reason so few queens are bred in Canada.  We can do it, but freaky weather gets in the way. Someday, I’m sure, there will be a big dome over my hometown of Calgary. Inside, there will be banana bushes and fig vines. Somewhere in our dome, a Drone Congregation Area will develop and our young queens will find their way to it.  Meanwhile, we are dealing with fresh snow and chilly temperatures. I’m glad that we weren’t expecting mating weather.

Coincidental to the April 28 blizzard, a few hundred honey bee packages arrived in Calgary from New Zealand. A large group of bees went to our neighbours at Tsuut’ina Nation, the rest (over 200 packages) are going to some of Calgary’s 400 active beekeepers, via the Calgary and District Beekeepers’ Association.  Regardless the snowstorm we had overnight, packages being installed now will do just fine.  In a few days, pollen will be flowing and all the snowflakes will melt into water for future flowers’ nectar.

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Bees learn to drive tiny cars

“Are we there yet? You know, we could have flown.”

I wouldn’t believe this if I had seen it with my own eyes! Sam Droege, bee scientist extraordinaire, has a USGS Flickr website populated with great bee photographs. Last week, somewhere around April first, Sam posted the results of some clandestine bee training going on in a secret lab in the USA. They are teaching bees to drive tiny cars!

The scientists reward successful drivers (“Keep it between the ditches, ladies!”) with a sweet treat. Eventually, I guess, the bees get good at driving and take their car out for a spin, just for fun. I understand that they . . .  well, let Sam’s group tell the story:

Bees Learn to Drive Very Small Cars.

Scientists capitalized on recent revelations that bees are a lot smarter than previously thought. In addition to being able to count and solve simple puzzles USGS scientists at the Patuxent Native Bee Lab have taught bees to driver miniaturized automobiles. Using rewards such as flower smoothies and honey laced with addictive pollens, bees were gradually induced to drive in order to continue receiving their rewards. The study came to an unfortunate ending when one of the lab assistants was overwhelmed by angry bees who felt that the researchers were holding back on their pollen loads. Future plans are in the work to use less coercive methods and talks are in progress with several bee advocacy groups. For release on April 1, 2019.  Photography by Brooke Goggins.

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Comb on demand

There’s a reason that this comb looks nearly perfect. Credit: BREAT

Here’s something that I never thought anyone would manufacture. It’s fully-drawn comb, just the way bees would make it, if bees were machines.

I’m impressed with the technology, but I’m not sure how marketable these manufactured combs will be. Perhaps beekeepers who operate in regions with cool, short seasons (like Iceland?) would want ready-made new comb so their bees wouldn’t need to draw out foundation.  Also,  beekeepers who are starting packages on all new equipment or those expanding their hive count might become customers of the artificial beeswax drawn combs. It would depend, of course, on how much the combs cost.

The manufacturing company, a Spanish outfit called BREAT says its motivation is

“…to focus on the renovation of honeycomb without any chemicals, which translates into a much healthier beehives. One of our main concerns is to preserve the environment in order to allow the bees to produce an exceptional honey.
“Our challenge has been to invented a machine that make honeycombs like bees and we have achieved that. The benefit of using these honeycombs is absolutely unbelievable, as it improve productivity of bees. Now they don’t have to making wax for building honeycombs and they dedicate more time and resources to honey production. Bee colonies also benefit into a better environment for brood nest where our honeycombs provide epitome conditions cycle growth of bee.”

BREAT, which engineered this system, is trying to sell the machinery, not necessarily the finished combs.  You would buy a big machine that looks like this:

To see the system in action, BREAT has released this video:

Posted in Beekeeping, Hives and Combs, Strange, Odd Stuff, Tools and Gadgets | Tagged | 8 Comments

Good Neighbour Beekeeping

It’s worth repeating. Especially at this time of the year. Be a good neighbour beekeeper.  I wrote the following post last March. If you missed it, here’s your chance to miss it again….

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Tired of irritating your neighbours with your pesky bees? Help is on the way. A very bright professor at Oregon State, Andony Melathopoulos, has co-authored a guide which you should read:  Residential Beekeeping: Best-practice guidelines for nuisance-free beekeeping in Oregon.   It was written in Oregon for Oregonians but the advice will help urban and suburban beekeepers everywhere.

The manual is a colourful, user-friendly booklet that should keep you from looking like the guy in the picture above.  The best-practice guidelines manual begins by describing why beekeeping is important:

“While residential beekeeping can prove extremely rewarding to the beekeeper (a single colony can produce more than 40 pounds of honey, as well as other valuable products such as pollen, propolis, and wax), it also provides considerable benefits to neighbors and the city as a whole. 

“Honey bees play an important role in the residential community, providing pollination for the beekeeper’s property and for properties up to two miles away. As cities and towns encourage residential beekeeping and it becomes more established, the benefits increase and become integrated into a number of public services, such as educational projects, income opportunities for under-employed populations, and personal and community-building activities.”

The booklet then gives you the nuts’n’bolts of doing it right.  Topics include flight path, water for the bees, swarming, defensive behaviour, prevention of robbing, locating the apiary, proper number of hives to keep, stings, allergies, good neighbourliness, and lots more. It doesn’t cover a few things which every beekeeper should know (diseases and mites, for example) but that’s not the purpose of this guidebook. Instead, the clear focus is on being a good citizen backyard beekeeper and not a nuisance. There are a few paragraphs about legal stuff, town ordinances, and apiary registration which won’t be completely transferable everywhere, but the rest of the manual generally is applicable for most community beekeepers.

This is a well-organized, well-written, and well-illustrated manual. For example, here’s a simple figure showing how to reduce pedestrian contact with your bees. As most beekeepers know, honey bees very rarely sting when they are away from their hive (unless you bare-footedly step on one or try to pick one off a flower – then, I’m sorry, but I’ll side with the bee on this). Close to their nest, however, bees can become rudely defensive. Foot-traffic along a pathway in front of a hive entrance almost always causes trouble for the bees and for pedestrians. Thus, this simple but appropriate drawing:

From Best Practices:   Illustration by Iris Kormann, © Oregon State University

There are a few things missing from this 17-page manual (for example: how to stop robbing once it has started; how to carry a hive of bees into your back yard without discommoding the neighbours) but this guidebook doesn’t pretend to cover everything.  There’s a lot more you need to know before you start beekeeping – things you should learn at a two-day beginner’s bee course taught by your local bee club. For those extra details, the authors recommend that you participate in a bee course, learn from a good neighbour beekeeper, or at least seek out good practical advice.

Further, the authors suggest, “…the Best Practices are guidelines only, and are not intended nor should they be considered as hard and fast codes, rules or ordinances that must be followed and enforced. Rather, the Best Practices are to be used to foster nuisance-free residential beekeeping.” This manual provides the closest thing I’ve seen to best practices for backyard beekeepers. This guidebook isn’t just for beginners. Even if you have been keeping bees for a long time, you will pick up a few things and maybe adjust some of your unintentionally mistaken habits.

By the way, some of you will remember meeting the principal author, Andony, on my blog – he hosts a popular bee talk podcast, PolliNation, produced at Oregon State University.  I’ve written about it a few times. If you haven’t caught some episodes by now, give it a chance. A lot of good bee science is chatted about on that podcast.

Meanwhile, download your own copy of the best practices guidelines for residential beekeeping at this link. It’s a well-written, practical, helpful manual that will help keep hobby beekeepers from being nuisance beekeepers.

Posted in Bee Yards, Beekeeping, Books, Outreach | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Comb honey euphoria?

Three million people have watched this 12-minute video of a person eating honey comb and fried chicken. Every nuance of the first stage of digestion is clearly visible and audible. Microphones focus on noisy chewing and slurping sounds.

Why would anyone, let alone 3 million folks, watch someone eat honey comb? It has to do with ASMR, something I didn’t even know existed until today.  Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, is a thing. It refers to a tingly, exciting euphoria that some people spontaneously experience when they are exposed to particular everyday events that the more callous of us don’t recognize as stimulating. These are everyday events like gum chewing, whispering, or, better yet, eating comb honey.

I can almost imagine people developing an elevated state of well-being from eating comb honey. But to feel that way by watching and hearing someone else eat honey? Excuse me, but really? Really? Have we become a world of watchers instead of doers?

According to a New York Times’ piece, How A.S.M.R. Became a Sensation, the “psychological oddity” [0f witnessing someone eat comb honey] is a powerful sensation among those lucky enough to get a charge out of uncommonly common stimuli. It sounds harmless, like a form of transcendence far healthier than the tingle of opioids. As the Times reported, it can arrive “in a wave, like a warm effervescence, making its way down the length of [the] spine and leaving behind a sense of gratitude and wholeness.” Read the article if you must know more.

Personally, I don’t get it. But apparently many of the three million people who have watched the noisy demolition of a large chunk of comb honey and several hunks of chicken receive some pleasant benefit. I’m just pointing you towards a cultural phenomenon that’s new, and (I think) rather odd. But as we used to say in the old days, whatever floats your boat.  At least the video will likely boost comb honey sales for the Savannah Bee Company.

Posted in Comb Honey, Culture, or lack thereof, Strange, Odd Stuff | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Beekeeping goes Global

Global TV interviewed me at noon today. Our chat went OK. I covered most of what I wanted to talk about in the five minutes allotted. I’d like to give a special thanks to Liz Goldie, who helped immeasurably with the preps and props. Liz is the most active member of our local bee club, the Calgary and District Beekeepers Association. Also a warm thank you to my friend Bert Blouin, a past bee club president, for loaning his observation hive. Of course, there is also gratitude to Global TV for inviting me and the bees. Finally, thanks to the station’s great staff for pushing all the right buttons – thanks, Heather, Tiffany, and Sarah.

Please take a look and tell me what you think. What you would do differently if you were on this show?

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A bit of pollen

The bees have found lots of little bits of early pollen.

Today’s high was only 12 ºC (53F), but the bees had discovered pollen. It’s surprising how small the pollen pelts are, and doubly surprising that nearly every bee is carrying some. Both of our backyard colonies are weak, but coming along. Both have sealed brood and enough bees to nurse their young. Although pollen is flowing, we still gave both hives a pollen cake to help them help themselves.

Pollen supplement, placed on top bars, over pearl brood.

The better hive has four frames of brood. That’s not much, but there were plenty of young adults emerging. With all the fresh pollen, the bees may be on their way to the big league. Should you feed supplementary pollen when the bees are gathering pollen? Well, it’s only April 3rd.  Here in Calgary, it can turn cold in a hurry at this time of the year. The last of the spring snowstorms is still in our future. The pollen supplement will help the bees through the bad weather that’s surely coming.

I see adults emerging from the brood!

This was only our third look at the bees for the year. On a mild day in mid-January, we gave them a bit of fondant. They were very weak and were already up in the second brood chamber. I’m glad we fed them because it turned really cold for the next six weeks. Then, on March 22, we dropped the hives to single-story and gave the bees their first pollen supplement and some liquid stimulation-syrup. Today, it was more pollen and an inspection of the brood nests. I was happy with what I saw.

If you work bees in cool weather, expect them to hang on to your clothes and face. It’s what they do.

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Polar Vortex Insurance: Extended to Beekeepers!

Our local Auto Club (Alberta Motor Association) is offering Polar Vortex Insurance. This is a great new feature (for members only) – if the temperature stays at -25C, or colder, for any 14 consecutive days, each paid-up member gets to file a claim with the insurance company and collect a 14-day tropical holiday.

I have heard that they are considering a special insurance clause to also replace any dead overwintered honey bee colonies at the same time (for members only). They will replace them with tropical bees, as long as a ‘clean health’ certificate shows that there was never any nosema, dysentery, starvation, viruses, varroa mites, chalk, European, or American foul brood present at any time in the past.

This special offer from AMA Insurance was announced today, April first. Once again, our motor club is a trend-setting organization. Nice work, folks!  Read the details here – it’s worth your time.

Posted in Climate, Humour, Save the Bees, Strange, Odd Stuff | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

March 30: World Apitherapy Day

Today is World Apitherapy Day. And it’s my birthday.  Coincidence? Maybe.

Apitherapy, which means using bee stuff for health, can include eating pollen, propolis, wax, royal jelly, bee larvae, and honey – or rubbing them on your face. But for many, apitherapy is bee sting therapy. Stings are sometimes promoted as a treatment for autoimmune disorders, like MS and rheumatism. Less frequently (but with more notice), bee venom is an ingredient in skin creams  – as you can read here. (And here, here, and here.) However, a recent death due to a bee sting administered as apitherapy is newsworthy.

Just winking?

I don’t want to deflate the World Apitherapy Day balloon, but if you’re not careful, bee sting therapy can be fatal therapy. Most long-time beekeepers have been stung thousands of times. (That’s not an exaggeration.) We may forget that, for some people, a bee sting can be much worse than a bit of swelling, redness, and pain. A single bee sting can kill. Although bee sting therapy may work wonders on some auto-immune syndromes, stings might send a patient into systemic shock. That’s what reportedly happened in Spain.

A 55-year-old woman was undergoing bee sting therapy to treat stress and muscle fatigue. Her fatal sting was not her first bee sting – she had reportedly been getting sting therapy monthly for two years. Her fate is really unusual. If a severe reaction occurs, it is usually within the first few treatments. Sadly, although she had at least 20 previous sting sessions over many months without incident, the woman suddenly developed a “loss of consciousness immediately after a live bee sting,” according to the Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology:

During an apitherapy session, she developed wheezing, dyspnea, and sudden loss of consciousness immediately after a live bee sting. An ambulance was called, although it took 30 minutes to arrive. The apitherapy clinic personnel administered methylprednisolone. No adrenaline was available. When the ambulance arrived, the patient’s systolic pressure had dropped to 42 mmHg and her heart rate had increased to 110 bpm.

The woman never regained consciousness and later died from organ failure at hospital. Such bee-therapy fatalities are rare. Only one other treatment is known to have ended a life. However, a meta-analysis of several hundred studies showed that a significant number of therapies have caused serious reactions. The figure given in the analysis (Risk Associated with Bee Venom Therapy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) indicated that 12% of people undergoing bee venom therapy from live stings (as opposed to physician-administered controlled injections of bee venom) experience serious reactions.

In two of the courses which I help teach – Making Money from Honey and Beginner’s Beekeeping, We always show a slide about bee sting therapy. For the beginners’ group, I mention it because many new beekeepers know the health benefits of a jab of bee venom, as seen on YouTube. We try to be sure that they understand the risks involved. For more advanced beekeepers, I mention bee sting therapy as something they may have considered as a source of income (and a way to help people). In both courses, I strongly advise against stinging anyone. Intentionally inflicting bee venom so that a client may gain health benefits might be considered “practising medicine without a license.” And you could kill someone.

I don’t want this blog posting to be an anti-apitherapy diatribe. I think that there is a lot of evidence that bee sting therapy can help some people some of the time. I’ve met people who claim that they are alive and active today because of bee stings. But I still refuse to get involved in administering the treatments myself – I’m not a trained first-responder. If something goes very badly wrong, the patient needs to be in the hands of someone with proper emergency experience.

Filip Terc apitherapy

Filip Terč, Father of Apitherapy 1844-1917

That’s my soap box speech for apitherapy caveats. You may wonder why March 30 is World Apitherapy Day. Today is not only my birthday, but it’s also the birthdate of the most important early promoter of healthy bee stings, Filip Terč, whom you see glaring at you adjacent to this sentence. Terč practiced medicine in Maribor, Slovenia, over a hundred years ago. As a young man, he suffered badly from rheumatoid pain until, at age 22, he was accidentally stung by an defensive mob of irritated honey bees. It changed his life. His pain was gone.

Terč began a serious study of the effects of bee venom therapy. He published the first clinical trials of the therapeutic effects of bee stings in the 1888 publication “Report on the Peculiar Connection between Bee Stings and Rheumatism”. He presented the results of treating 680 patients with the collective application of 39,000 stings. (An average of 60 stings/patient, administered over several months.)  He claimed that 82% experienced a complete cure, 15% had partial recovery, and just 3% had no relief from their rheumatoid condition. Although his work was published over a hundred years ago and his results have not been disputed, the medical profession is still cautious about the link between rheumatism, auto-immune dysfunctions, and some of the elements of bee venom. With immune disorders ranging from multiple sclerosis to allergies on the rise, the use of apitherapy treatments are finally becoming more accepted and generally more widely available. So, with cautious caveats, celebrate World Apitherapy Day. (And send regards to all those beekeepers with birthdays today).

Posted in Apitherapy, Culture, or lack thereof, Outreach, People, Stings, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments