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Chinese patients swarm to bee sting therapy clinic

August 16th 2013 / Judy Johnson Google+ Judy Johnson

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Bee sting therapy is creating quite the buzz in Beijing for treating disease - but what about the bees' health? Judy Johnson reports

You couldn't pay us Glossies to voluntarily be stung by a bee (ouch!), but over in China thousands of people are actually paying for the privilege.

Bee sting therapy has been around for years but it seems more and more people are bee-lievers (sorry) as it's reported that more than 27,000 people have undergone the treatment at Wang Menglin's clinic in Beijing.

The acupuncturist uses 'apitherapy' - a painful technique where patients are stung by bees, often multiple times - to treat illnesses and claims it also works as a preventative measure.

"We hold the bee, put it on a point on the body, hold its head, and pinch it until the sting needle emerges," Wang explains outside his practice.

Wang uses an imported Italian variety of the creatures for his treatments, which die as soon as they release their venom.

While we're all for alternative medicine - the treatment has been used for years in traditional Chinese medicine - there's no scientific evidence to support the use of bee stings in treating ailments, other than to help prevent allergic reactions to the stings themselves. That seems a lot of pain for what might be no gain.

What's more, we can't help but worry for the bees. It's well known that the bee population is fast diminishing around the world - and in Britain they're disappearing even faster than in the rest of Europe.

Albert Einstein famously said mankind would become extinct without bees, and though that may be an overstatement it's certainly cause for concern. Bees are key to food production as they pollinate so much of our crop food species - their existence is necessary for anything from nuts to berries, apples, citrus fruits and more. Without them food prices would soar as farmers find other ways of growing their crops.

Bee venom has been widely touted in the beauty world as 'an alternative to Botox', too, while honey has long been loved for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and is now in plenty of skincare - yet usually without harming our beloved bees in the process.

In fact, brands such as Neal's Yard Remedies launched their Bee Lovely range alongside their Save the Bees campaign, donating £10,000 a year to the Help Save the Bees project. Now that's something we can get behind; especially as we won't get stung.

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