Apitherapy is a branch of alternative medicine which uses products derived from bees as treatments. They range from the relatively benign (royal jelly, honey, and pollen sacs) to the bizarre (sting/venom).
 Bee venom therapy
Most advertised "apitherapy" is bee venom therapy, which purports to cure or ameliorate diseases such as multiple sclerosis through application of the venom of bees. Application can take the form of a powdered venom, liquid, or plain old bee stings, which isn't very good for the bees as their barbs are ripped off when stinging thick-skinned creatures like mammals resulting in the death of the bee a few minutes later. Existing scientific studies have all come up as either inconclusive or clearly negative.
Bee venom therapy does include a serious inherent risk as well: roughly 2% of people are allergic to bee stings and could suffer from allergic reaction and anaphylactic shock. If it involves an actual bee sting, it also poses a danger to the bee (the bee dies). Small children are at risk from botulism spores in honey.
Though not especially "mainstream", apitherapy appears to have been around since ancient Egyptian times. Honey has a proven antibacterial effect if used externally, and was widely used to treat wounds before the advent of purpose-developed disinfectants. It can also be useful where other disinfectants can't be used, for example singers often drink honey (mixed with lemon juice) to sooth sore throats (although this is still a little controversial as to whether it works or is just a distraction to stop them getting drunk instead).
- ↑ Waikato University "Honey Research Unit"
- ↑ Wikipedia; everything you ever wanted to know about bee stings
- ↑ Ask a Biologist - Why do bees die after they sting?
- ↑ "No Beneficial Effect of Bee Venom in Study Using Animal Model for MS". Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. 1998-06-02.
- ↑ NHS:Your baby's first solid foods