Apitherapy can help with almost all ailments


by: Maša Tamše Pungartnik, project manager & Matic Matjašič, development manager, Beep Institute

Humans and bees have a long history of coexistence, as humans have been raising their own bees since prehistoric times to obtain honey, pollen and bee larvae. Apitherapy, an alternative medicine based on treatment with bees and their products, developed in ancient China and Egypt.

Today, apitherapy is recognized and available in many countries, including Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Germany, Switzerland, Nigeria and Slovenia. It can be used to treat various diseases and symptoms such as arthritis, infections, multiple sclerosis, pain, wounds and burns. 

The most studied effects of honey are its antioxidant properties

She confided in us more about it Mojca Anzeljc, beekeeper, herbalist and apitherapist, who has been intensively working with apitherapy for the past 6 years, and also teaches his knowledge through various workshops and trainings.

In her answer, she relied on one of the definitions of apitherapy, ie the use of bee products for the prevention, treatment (therapy) and recovery of a person who has one or more diseases or medical conditions. "I think this definition says it all - with bee products we can help with almost all ailments."

In his work, he observes that more and more people are aware of the importance of returning to nature and, as a result, more and more people are using natural products. Honey herbal ointment, which contains a combination of medicinal plants and bee products, is used to relieve pain of various origins (rheumatism, pain in muscles, joints, sprains, bumps). The gift of the bee, a mixture of honey, pollen and royal jelly with a high energy value, helps with exhaustion, supports the immune system and anemia, and thus often serves as a support for patients who want to recover after completing treatment for various forms of cancer (especially leukemia) back in shape.

Benefits of hive air and buzzing bees

In addition to the use of bee products, therapies with inhalation of aerosol (air) that comes directly from the bee family from the hive and listening to the bee's buzzing for relaxation are also interesting.

"Inhalation of hive air (aerosol) has a beneficial effect on respiratory problems, as the aerosol contains essential oils, flavonoids, honey, pollen, propolis, wax and many other medicinal substances found in the hive. Bees in the hive create ventilation with their wings, and so all these medicinal substances are dispersed into the air. In our apicomora - this is the space in the apiary intended for apitherapy, we have two beds installed, one of them is placed directly on the hive. The four beehives, which are located right next to the bed, have been equipped with special openings through which the aerosol spreads throughout the room and with which we can regulate its intensity by opening or closing it. At the same time, the hum of bees in the hives can be heard through the openings, which has a calming effect. Therefore, the microclimate in the apicomora also has a beneficial effect on psychophysical well-being and thus alleviates stress and stress-related illnesses." the interlocutor shared with us.

He also shared his experience with us Slavko Drev, who has been actively involved with bees and beekeeping for 20 years. Although he is not an apitherapist, in his work with bees he observes the effects they have on his health and well-being. He shared with us that he feels comfortable and calm when working with bees, especially when he sits by the apiary, watching them and listening to their buzzing. "I think that working with bees affects my immune system, because I rarely get sick. During the illness, I do not use any special approaches, as I consume bee products regularly." he also said.

Ancient wisdom and modern potential hand in hand

Traditional knowledge about the use of bee products is extremely valuable, as it offers insight into their usefulness and methods of preparation in the treatment and prevention of diseases. However, the chemical composition of the samples varies greatly depending on the plants, geographical regions and climatic characteristics of the ecosystems. Mr. Drev emphasized, among other things, that "Slovenian honey contains pollen from our environment, to which our organism is accustomed".  This is also probably why it is difficult to compare the effectiveness of bee products, and there is also a lack of uniformity between materials, processes and production conditions. This highlights the need to standardize the production, identification and preparation of formulations based on bee products. Studies have shown that the combination of bee products with conventional drugs can lead to positive results, allowing lower concentrations or doses of drugs, with the same effectiveness and fewer side effects

Inhaling hive air (aerosol) has a beneficial effect on respiratory problems, as the aerosol contains essential oils, flavonoids, honey, pollen, propolis, wax and many other medicinal substances found in the hive. 

World Bee Day at the initiative of Slovenia

Many people in Slovenia do not know that the initiative to declare World Bee Day came from Slovenia. What's more, the date of birth of the great connoisseur of bees from the 18th century, Anton Janša, was chosen. The latter was the first beekeeping teacher at the court of the Habsburg empress Maria Theresa. By enforcing beekeeping methods that were used with advantage by the Carniola beekeepers, he caused a real revolution in beekeeping at the time. Among other things, he introduced bee grazing, redefined the role of trotters, and described everything in two books, which are still a welcome handbook for many beekeepers today. More about him here: Anton Janša, May 20, World Bee Day, Žirovnica, Janšev apiary (visitzirovnica.si)

Interesting fact: dr. Filip Terč was a pioneer of modern apitherapy in Slovenia. As a doctor, he started trying to treat rheumatic diseases with bee stings as early as 1879. He helped about 700 patients with this type of treatment, which brought him great recognition in the history of medicine and beekeeping. Today, this method is used all over the world. At the Congress of Apitherapy in 2006, world apitherapists declared March 30, the birthday of dr. Filipa Terča, for the International Day of Apitherapy.

What can we do ourselves?

1. Let's help with planting

Mojca Anželjc points out that at a time when, due to weather conditions, intensive agriculture, planting monocultures, intensive use of sprays and early mowing, there is less and less pasture in nature, any flower that provides at least a little food to bees and other pollinators is welcome. At the same time, he shares some advice for anyone who would like to help bees:

  • If we don't have our own garden, we can plant some plants on the balcony or on the windowsill. Every flower counts and the bees are grateful!
  • For planting, we choose plants that bloom at different times to provide grazing throughout the year, but especially in the non-grazing period, when there are no longer many flowers in nature and meadows.
  • It is wise to choose at least a few pieces of each plant to form groups, as bees collect honey or pollen from only one type of plant at a time, making their work much easier.
  • It is best to plant honeydew perennials, as this saves a lot of work, but of course some annuals are beautiful and also quite honeydew.
  • To make it easier to choose, many seed bags have a bee drawn on them, indicating that this is a honey plant.
  • Let's not forget the various berries, which are just as good honey, and at the same time give us a healthy harvest.
  • Fruit trees also provide quite a bit of grazing, but care must be taken to choose species that do not require spraying.
When buying propolis, be careful that it will be collected from the nets intended for this purpose and at a time when the bee is not being treated.

2. Caution when buying and using bee products

Both beekeepers we spoke to emphasize the importance of caution when buying and using bee products. We share some of their tips with you:

  • There is a lot of fake honey on the market, which you can avoid by buying from a nearby beekeeper.
  • Fresh pollen should be stored exclusively in the freezer, and dried pollen is an excellent alternative.
  • Store other bee products at room temperature.
  • Do not heat the honey to more than 40 degrees Celsius.

3. Work environments and bees go hand in hand

On this occasion, we also share some good practices of Slovenian organizations that advocate for the empowerment of employees in helping bees. Perhaps you can find inspiration for your work environment in one of them!

In the future, apitherapy, with a combination of ancient wisdom and modern scientific discoveries, could become a more important part of holistic treatment and prevention and contribute to improving the quality of life of people around the world. Therefore, we kindly encourage you to continue actively caring for our bees, so that we can enjoy the fruits of the labor of these hardworking little creatures for many years to come.

Did you know?

- Bees pollinate more than 170 types of plants. - Every third tablespoon of food in the world depends on pollination. - Bees are also excellent biological indicators of environmental cleanliness. - For a kilogram of honey, a bee has to visit 4 million flowers and fly four times the distance around the world. - Bees recognize different human faces. - They express emotions such as fear, joy, frustration. - Maybe they're even dreaming.
Honey herbal ointment is used to relieve pain of various origins (rheumatism, pain in muscles, joints, sprains, bumps).


Abd El-Hakam, FE, Abo Laban, G., Badr El-Din, S., Abd El-Hamid, H. and Farouk, MH (2022). Apitherapy combination improvement of blood pressure, cardiovascular protection, and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory responses in dexamethasone model hypertensive rats. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 20765. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-24727-z

Beekeeping Association of Slovenia. (2021). Beekeeping Association of Slovenia. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from website https://www.czs.si/index.php.

Weis, J., Wilson, D., Ripari, N., Lopes Conte, F., Honorio, MDS, Sartori, A., Matucci, R. and Sforcin, J. (2022). An overview of apitherapy and its clinical applications. Phytomedicine Plus, 2, 100239. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phyplu.2022.100239.

Shin, SH, Ye, MK, Choi, SY, and Park, KK (2017). The Effects of Melittin and Apamin on Airborne Fungi-Induced Chemical Mediator and Extracellular Matrix Production from Nasal Polyp Fibroblasts. Toxins, 9(11), 348. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins9110348

Buchmann, S. (2023). What a Bee Knows: Exploring the Thoughts, Memories and Personalities of Bees. Island Press.

World Bee Day and beekeeping tradition in Slovenia I feel Slovenia

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