Bee sting therapy is a form of apitherapy, which is an alternative treatment using products from honeybees. Along with bee sting venom, apitherapy can include honey, propolis, bee pollen, beeswax, and royal jelly.
“This strategy has been used in alternative medicine for more than 5,000 years,” one study explains. “It consists of either indirect application, by extracting bee venom (BV) with an electric stimulus followed by its injection into the body or directly via bee stings.”
To apply bee sting therapy directly, bees are held with a tweezer and placed onto a particular part of the body. After it stings, the bee is removed, but the stinger remains in the body for a short period of time.
This treatment was recently featured in the Netflix docuseries (Un)Well, so many people around the world were exposed to the idea of apitherapy to help manage symptoms of Lyme disease. In the sixth episode of the show, the founder of Heal Hive, Brooke Geahan, calls bee venom an antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic, and an anti-inflammatory.
She then explains one property of bee venom, called melittin, which supposedly breaks into the cell walls containing the Lyme disease bacteria (B. burgdorferi) and causes them to burst.