The American Apitherapy Society, Inc., a 501(c)(3) membership organization, was formed in New Jersey in 1989 as a reorganization of the North American Apiotherapy Society. Founded in 1978, the NAAS had contributed much to bee venom therapy research and education. However, in the years leading up to 1989 it became inactive as a result of inadequate funding, poor communication, and other limitations. As a result, a new organization was formed: the AAS. Officers and directors and advisors were Christopher M. Kim, M.D., president; James Belliveau, Ph.D., vice president; Harold Lenz, D.Sc., treasurer and acting secretary; Charles Mraz and Bradford Weeks, M.D., directors at large; and Ann W. Harman, advisor. The AAS’ mission was to promote and teach “the use of honeybee products to maintain and improve health, and to alleviate pain, suffering, and disability.”
The new Society developed a constitution and by-laws and was granted tax-exempt status by the IRS. Members were solicited and a newsletter was planned. Several directors attended the 1990 meeting of the Eastern Apitherapy Society, where Charles Mraz and Christopher Kim presented formal talks on apitherapy. The group held several workshops and regular board meetings during 1989–1991 and began sending a Newsletter, Bee Well, in 1991. In July 1992, with Brad Weeks as the new president, the AAS held its annual meeting and a scientific symposium. During the meeting the Charles and Margaret Mraz Foundation was founded—an event marked by sadness, as Margaret died suddenly that month.
By 1993 nearly 600 members had joined the Society. At that year’s annual meeting and scientific symposium, which drew more than 200 attendees, Pat Wagner described the role of apitherapy in treating her MS and credited Charlie Mraz for her astonishing improvement. Not long afterwards Pat appeared on CBS television (Connie Chung’s program), which, with other news stories, directed greater public attention to apitherapy. That year several AAS members traveled to China. In addition to attending Apimondia in Beijing, they visited clinics where apitherapy was practiced and met with local apitherapists. In 1994 the AAS held another annual meeting and symposium and continued sending the quarterly newsletter, Bee Well.
Under Brad Weeks’ presidency, membership in the Society grew from 40 to more than 1,600, including residents of all 50 states and of 40 other countries. Members who were particularly active included Kate Chatot, who served as office coordinator; Dick Johnson, who to this day stays informed about apitherapy developments and regularly updates the AAS; Michelle Mraz, who edited the newsletter; Michael Broffman, who served as secretary; and Michael McCullough, the AAS’s treasurer.
In 1994 a new board was elected by the membership at large. Theodore Cherbuliez, M.D., who developed the AAS’s scientific symposia and had served as vice president, was elected president, a post he went on to hold for 10 years. Jim Higgins and Kate Chatot served as treasurer and, secretary, respectively. During Theo’s early tenure, Michael McCulloch edited the newsletter, now called Bee Informed, which provided first-rate information about apitherapy. Scientific symposia continued, a website was created, and Theo and the board developed an annual apitherapy training course, called the Apitherapy Review Course. The first course, organized by Louise Estupian, was held in July 1998.
1999 was a significant year for the AAS. At the training course in July, speakers included AAS legal advisor and board member Donald Whitehead, Pat Wagner, Wally Blohm, Jim Higgins, Vetaley Stashenko, and Theo Cherbuliez. In September Amber Rose and Theo Cherbuliez attended Apimondia in Vancouver and participated in a panel discussion; Theo, now president of Apimondia’s Commission on Apitherapy, moderated the discussion. The major event that year was also the saddest: the death of Charles Mraz, who died peacefully on September 13, while many people were attending Apimondia. The news reached the public during the apitherapy program’s plenary session, and approximately 400 participants joined in paying tribute to Charlie.
The composition of the AAS board changed as new members joined and former ones retired or relinquished their position, among them vice president Wally Blohm. The years 2000–2002 marked the arrival of several new members who remain on the board: Andrew Kochan, M.D., Don Downs, Frederique Keller, L.Ac., DOM, Glenn Perry, and Vetaley Stashenko, Ph.D., N.D. In 2003 Patsy McCook became editor of the newsletter (now called the Journal of the American Apitherapy Society). Frederique has offered expertise based on her experience with acupuncture and apipuncture and her training in homeopathy. Don and Jim continue to contribute extensive practical experience with apitherapy for a wide variety of conditions. Vetaley’s scientific knowledge of the properties of the hive and his experience with honeybee products have benefitted all who hear his presentations at the AAS’s training course, which became known as the Charles Mraz Apitherapy Course, or CMAC. Glenn has brought to the AAS his deep knowledge of propolis and his experience in using apitherapy to treat animals.
In 2001 Susan Cherbuliez succeeded Jim Higgins as treasurer. In 2003, Don Whitehead died, leaving the AAS without his wise legal advice. (The first members to join the AAS’s advisory board, created in 2007, were legal specialists, who continue the service that Don had provided.) Ina Abercrombie, who had joined the board in 2002, served as secretary for several years until 2008. A new website was established in 2004, and a new logo was created for the AAS. The Network, which had previously been listed only in the Journal, was added to the website, with access offered to all members of the public.
At the suggestion of Andrew Kochan, in 2006 the AAS’s training course was supplemented by a conference, and CMAC became CMACC: the Charles Mraz Apitherapy Course and Conference. The new format consisted of a one-day basic apitherapy course and exam, followed by a day and a half of more-advanced conference material. To expand the topics and achieve Theo Cherbuliez’s aim of providing a thorough, scientific examination of apitherapy, presenters now included people from outside the AAS. Most attendees registered for the full meeting, demonstrating that the advanced material was of interest to people with all levels of apitherapy knowledge.
In 2005 Andrew Kochan was elected president, and Frederique Keller was elected vice president. In addition to continuing to oversee CMACC, Andrew brought his wisdom and experience with pain management through apitherapy. Frederique became president in 2008, with Theo Cherbuliez assuming the vice presidency; Andrew remained on the board as past president. At the 2008 CMACC, organized by new board member Kate McWiggins, the Society had the good fortune to be joined by two AAS veterans: Brad Weeks and Wally Blohm. Other new speakers, who provided innovative ideas about apitherapy, were John Gibeau of the Honeybee Center in British Columbia and Chris Kleronomos, DOAM, R.N., of Seattle. Chris later joined the board, becoming an active member and providing an infusion of energy.
At the start of 2009, the AAS updated its website, integrating modern technology, in the effort to educate about and promote apitherapy to the general public, to health care professionals and other scientists, and to our members. The 2009 CMACC was held Dec. 4-6, in NY. It was a rich program, including a new presenter—longtime AAS member Moises Asis—and had several new sessions, including one on cancer and apitherapy.
The 2010 CMACC was held in Los Angeles, in early November.