Indicative of the rise in the number of people looking to the past for alternative healing methods, there’s been mounting interest across the world in apitherapy.
Traced back to thousands of years to Egypt and China, bee venom has been used in ancient medicine for centuries primarily as a treatment for arthritis.
Now celebrities such as Kate Middleton and Victoria Beckham are helping propel the trend into the 21st century.
Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow, known for her love of unusual and holistic treatments, recently revealed she used bee venom therapy to treat an insect bite.
In China, throngs of patients are also reportedly swarming to acupuncture clinics to be given bee stings to treat or ward off a variety of illnesses, disorders and pain, even though there is there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.
But what’s the buzz all about?
Melittin, the peptide found in the venom, tricks the skin into thinking it has been stung – but without any pain. The skin reacts by increasing blood circulation to the affected area, stimulating natural production of collagen and elastin, thus smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles.
In 2013, Washington University, in the US city of St Louis, published a study on the efficacy of milittine in countering the Aids virus.
In France, thousands of patients have benefited from bandages treated with honey at the abdominal surgery department of Limoges hospital.
Bee products are also infiltrating the cosmetics industry, used in skin-toning and anti-wrinkle creams. Part of the appeal rests with the natural and organic image of bee products.
“In Romania, we have the chance to maintain an unspoiled nature,” said Cornelia Dostetan, a member of the National Apitherapy Society.
Under communism, poverty meant that pesticides were rarely used and the country has never shifted to large-scale monoculture forms of agriculture. The result is that Romania retains a great diversity of flora, said Dostetan.
Certified organic, the Romanian brand Apiland, a specialist in raw pollen, has launched its products in France and Italy.
According to the last census in 2010, Romania counted 42000 beekeepers and more than 1.3 million colonies of bees.
Postolachi says she looks on the bees with gratitude. “These miniscule beings do wonders.”