From November 2004 issue of the Catskill Mountain Beekeepers Club newsletter

Editor’s note: This testimonial has been adapted from an article published in the November 2004 issue of the Catskill Mountain Beekeepers Club newsletter ( The author, who is vice president and webmaster of the club, has been keeping bees for ten years and has seven hives near his house.

I was more surprised than anyone when I was diagnosed with an early form of arthritis. I was told time and time again that beekeepers don’t get arthritis. When I started experiencing a dull pain and loss of strength in my hands and wrists, I went to a doctor who gave me the bad news. My doctor prescribed a month of occupational therapy, which included paraffin baths for my wrists. I enjoyed the sessions but found that they did not really fix the problem. Rather, the therapist told me that this was something that I would have to get used to for the rest of my life. A few weeks after my therapy ended, I continued to have the dull and steady ache.

After rebuilding a shed on our property (carrying heavy loads, hammering nails, etc.), I started having a lot of pain, to the point where it was difficult to do my regular 9-5 work on a computer. I called my neighbor, Dick Johnson, and asked him about bee stinging for arthritis. For as long as I have known Dick, I have been interested in apitherapy and the magic of bee stings. I even took the first online apitherapy course taught by Dr. Stefan Stangaciu. But I had never seen stinging done and knew only a few people who had experienced it firsthand. All my experience and knowledge about apitherapy was academic.
Dick spent 10 minutes and told me everything I needed to know, lent me an observation hive as a bee source (the bees were going to die over the winter anyway), showed me how to set up a jar, gave me some books and pamphlets, and then sent me on my way. That night I gave myself the first two stings. I continued stinging myself every day with two or three bees right on the spot where it hurt most. The pain went away! It wasn’t just reduced, it actually went away. I was really surprised. Even though I understood how everything works biologically, it was a whole new experience to feel the pain get alleviated so fast and so completely, too.

I read in Charlie Mraz’s book Health and the Honey Bee how tests had been done on dogs and cats with bee stings, and then I looked over at my 18-year- old cat. Champagne had been suffering for many years with arthritis. Over the years I have watched him slow down more and more, to the point where it might take him several minutes to go up or down stairs and more than a minute to get up from a lying position. He would hiss and bite at the slightest touch on certain parts of his back. I began stinging him with one or two bees on his back and legs. Within a day or two, his movement altered dramatically. He did much better than he had in a long time. He walked much more easily, and I even saw him run from one room to another (of course, this was in response to a bee sting). He has since died, but the bee stinging did wonders to make his last few months more comfortable. I wish I had started stinging him years ago.
I feel that we, as beekeepers, have a tremendous resource available to us. Apitherapy is not just bee stinging or bee venom therapy; it also includes pollen, honey, propolis, and royal jelly. Adding these items to your diet is necessary to get the full benefits of BVT, but they also contribute significantly to your overall nutrition and health. For next year, you might consider adding a pollen trap to your apiary or maybe a propolis screen, so you can start harvesting some of these treasures of the hive. If you have some arthritic pain, try placing a bee there and enticing it to sting by rubbing its abdomen in that spot. You never know how much these little doctors can do for you!

- John Sturman
January 07, 2009