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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 475-479
Original Article

Apitherapy: Usage and Experience in German Beekeepers

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Justus Liebig University, Klinikstrasse 32, 35385 Giessen, Germany
2Medical Clinic and Policlinic 3, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Justus Liebig University, Rodthohl 6, 35385 Giessen, Germany
3Institute of Medical Psychology and Sociology of the Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany
4Institute of Music Science, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany

Received 28 October 2006; Accepted 4 April 2007

Copyright © 2008 Markus Hellner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study aimed to investigate the practice of apitherapy - using bee products such as honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom to prevent or treat illness and promote healing - among German beekeepers and to evaluate their experiences with these therapies. A questionnaire incorporating two instruments on beekeepers’ physical and mental health and working practice was included in three German beekeeping journals and readers were asked to complete it. The instrument included questions on the use of apitherapy. Simple descriptive methods, bivariate correlation, cross-tabulation and one-way ANOVA were used to analyze the data. Altogether 1059 completed questionnaires were received. The beekeepers reported the most effective and favorable therapeutic effects with honey, followed by propolis, pollen and royal jelly. The factors associated with successful experiences were: age, number of hives tended, health consciousness, positive experiences with one product and self-administration of treatment. Beekeepers were asked for which condition they would employ propolis and pollen. They reported that they used propolis most frequently to treat colds, wounds and burns, sore throats, gum disorders and also as a general prophylactic, while pollen was most commonly used as a general prophylactic and, less frequently, in treating prostate diseases. No adverse experiences were reported. The potential benefit of bee products is supported by the positive experiences of a large group of beekeepers who use some of these products to treat a wide range of conditions. The indications and treatments given here may be important in selecting bee products and designing future trials.