I had a fortuitous meeting with a Black Bumblebee. I was innocently walking along the ditch bank in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and she was innocently harvesting nectar from a flower on the path. As I purposefully strode past her, my ankle brushed against the flower she was on, and she fell between my ankle and the tongue of my shoe. Feeling attacked and threatened, she stung me, which led to a startled yelp out of me, as I came to a complete and sudden stop. My walking partner and I watched her fly away as I profusely apologized for screaming. I told my friend that I was not allergic, and we continued on our walk. We had to keep our pace as we were expected back at the office.
Black bumblebees are not aggressive, and do not sting often, the action of me brushing her off the flower she was harvesting caused her reaction to sting. She did not leave her stinger in me like a honeybee would, black bumblebees stingers are not barbed, and she very well could have continued to sting me had she been so inclined. When we returned to the office, my friend looked Black Bumblebees up on the internet. I think she wanted to know what I could expect as far as the sting was concerned. At this point, it was not very painful, I only had a small red area around the sting. What we found was that swelling and itching could be present at the sting site for a few hours up to a few days. It also seemed to indicate that it would hurt like crazy within a few hours. That it did! By the time I got home, I was ready to put ice on the site. Over the course of the next few days, I had much more swelling and discomfort at the sting site.
Despite the discomfort at the sting site, the most amazing thing happened over the next few days. For four to five days, I was pain free in all of my trouble spots. My back stopped hurting, my hips stopped hurting, my legs, my shoulders, my arms. All the widespread pain, that I had been dealing with for years, was blissfully relieved during the time that this lovely Bumblebees venom was circulating through me. What an interesting turn of events. The relief was incredible. By this point in 2015, I had been suffering more than ever, and was feeling so completely desperate. It was like someone opened a window to a dark room, and I truly felt there was going to be a change, that maybe I could get better. I was stung on July 2nd, 2015, and I still had 20 days before I would have my first visit with the Acupuncturist/Doctor of Oriental Medicine. This sting event would be one of the first things I mentioned to my Doctor, who promptly recommended I seek the treatment of a woman she knew who was practicing Apitherapy in Albuquerque.
My first Bee Venom Therapy or Apitherapy was on August 7, 2015. It began with a question and answer session, and I relayed my story of the black bumblebee sting. *June really enjoyed that story, and we talked about it often during my first few months of visiting with her. To begin therapy, June removes the stinger from the bee with tweezers, and then deposits the honeybee into a jar with water and honey. Knowing the bee has sacrificed her life for this therapy, June takes care to give them what comfort and nourishment she can in their final hours. When the stinger is removed from the honeybee, she will die from dehydration. June then did taps with a stinger on my stomach, to test my reaction. Obviously you don’t want someone going into anaphylactic shock while getting a treatment that is meant to help them. Once she was satisfied that I would not have an adverse reaction, she continued her treatment. June begins by taking my pulses, and determines which organs need a boost, and then she would focus on my aches and pains. Sometimes the bees would get so loud you could hear them buzzing in their containers. Some of her honeybees have been Africanized and are more aggressive then others. Some are Russian bees and are stubborn and escape artists. Often they would get out of the box, and fly around the room until they found the window. June truly has respect for her bees, and has four hives that she started and harvests for her patients and self therapy. If they do not have enough food, she will add honey to their hives to supplement what they have made for themselves.
After having multiple sessions that included tapping, and some sets of the stingers, June mentioned a full sting. Here I am lying on the table, thinking a set was a full sting. When I received a set, I would experience swelling in the area, but also relief from the pain and inflammation. I asked her what is the difference between a set and a full sting. June explained that a a tap delivers about 1 micrograms of venom, a set delivers about 10 micrograms of venom, and a full sting delivers about 100 micrograms of venom. After a few moments of silence I said, I’m a little scared now. June said we didn’t have to do it today. I needed time to absorb the idea of the full stings. I remembered the reaction to the sting I had gotten from the black bumblebee, and was a little freaked out that a full sting, offering so much venom would cause me some pain. To be honest, the sets up to this point were not painful, so I thought I was a total stud, then I hear from June, that I haven’t really experienced the full power of the bee venom therapy. So yeah, I was a little hesitant to consider multiple full stings.
At my next visit, June said she had been thinking about doing full stings. Considering my last visit with her, it was all could think about. The taps and the sets were helping with my pain, and inflammation, but I wanted to get even more benefit. I really wanted the full benefits of BVT so I had already decided to ask for the full stings. I told her I also had been thinking about full stings. And we were off. She started with my hips as they were huge, painful, problem areas for me. June used an ice pack, for a few seconds on the site, and then she lets the bee do her thing. Honeybees leave their stinger behind when they sting, and that is the delivery method of the larger quantity of venom. After using the ice the one time, we didn’t use it again. Knowing that a sting is coming it is not surprising, and although I can feel some of them “fire” up, I just breathe through the stronger ones. The effects of the stings were longer lasting, and in some way quite addictive.
Then we moved to my lower back. I think I have gotten as many as eleven full stings at one visit. And upwards of twenty bees for tapping and sets. Usually, I would get a set or a full sting in each hip, which she will sometimes surround with some sets. I think she called that the “Eye of the Dragon” and five or more full stings in my lower back. Occasionally I will ask for work on my arm, or my ankle, and she will also touch up my knees. Most recently having complained about an issue I have with my right ankle, June gave me a treatment which included a full sting on the ankle, some sets, and tapping. She did this on both ankles, and then also on my left arm that continues to be problematic. I felt so good afterward, for days, much less pain, much less annoyance with those areas.
I look forward to each visit, as this form of treatment causes me no side effects other than feeling good. June is able to tune up my organs as well, and she works in conjunction with my Doctor of Oriental Medicine in my treatment. Without these two incredible women in my life today, I can’t imagine how I would be coping. Certainly my husband would be bearing the brunt of my chronic pain. This alternative treatment has had a profound impact on my life. The honey bees are amazing little creatures with incredible healing properties.
*Name changed for purposes of this article.