This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Bee venom therapy is the most complex of the different types of apitherapy. Always have an allergy test before beginning a course of treatment and always consult a trained practitioner for the treatments. Because honeybee venom is not closely related to wasp or yellow jacket venom, an allergy to those insects does not necessarily rule out being able to have honeybee venom therapy. Nevertheless, careful testing and supervision is a must in all situations. (Eventually, you can learn to administer the treatments at home, either by yourself or with the help of a partner.)
In BVT, the venom is administered by injection, either by needle or by bee sting. Although some practitioners inject the venom with a hypodermic needle, your practitioner may place the bees, one at a time, directly on your skin with a pair of long tweezers and allow them to sting. The bees are typically placed close to the joint, muscle, or other body part that needs treatment.
Obviously, the bee sting can be a bit painful, but it's nothing to be anxious about. In fact, honeybee stings are much less painful than wasp or hornet stings. The degree of discomfort is basically in proportion to how you respond to pain. The first sting is always the worst because you don't know what to expect. Once you know what it feels like, the experience definitely gets easier.
Whether you receive BVT treatment by injection or sting, you can expect to feel some local discomfort--inflammation, stiffness, soreness, or itching--but the practitioner will usually place an ice pack on the affected area to reduce these symptoms as quickly as possible. If the practitioner is working with actual bees, the stingers will be removed immediately or within a few minutes.
For a relatively simple condition, such as tendinitis, just two or three sessions may be required, with two to ten stings per session. For a complex condition, such as multiple sclerosis, you may require up to three sessions per week (with two to three stings per session) for six months or more.
You do not need to consult a practitioner to try the other types of apitherapy. Bee pollen and royal jelly are available over-the-counter in capsules, powders, creams, and lotions for oral or topical use. Raw honey and propolis are available in health-food stores. Because an allergic reaction is always a possibility with bee products, you should proceed with care if you don't know whether or not you're sensitive.