“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.”
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I would never have imagined that healing breast cancer would involve stinging my own boob with live bee venom on a daily basis. Ever since my serious breast cancer diagnosis, it was necessary to make courageous decisions regarding my health. I now consider bees and their venom an integral part of my radical self healing journey.
In September of 2016, I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. I had spent much of 2015 by the side of my best friend, Deb, during her difficult journey with acute myeloid leukemia. She died within 22 months of receiving her diagnosis. I witnessed and supported her deeply, as she made difficult decisions related to treatment. It felt right to her to choose a conventional, allopathic route. After watching Deb endure the endless rounds of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant, I experienced the grit and trauma of standard medical treatment.
Deb’s courageousness was inspiring — but her end was tragic. So when facing cancer myself, I knew I could not follow the year of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and hormones prescribed to me. As I already had a deep distrust of conventional medicine, a natural route seemed the best option to honor my unique spirit.
Healing Breast Cancer Naturally With Bees
After an extensive amount of research, I created a healing protocol to follow over the next number of months. It consisted of the Gerson protocol (veggie juicing along with coffee enemas), supplements such as high dose Vitamin C infusions, Poly MVA, circumin (turmeric), pancreatic enzymes, and many more supplements (for the full list please see protocol). I also tried infrared saunas, a myriad of strange tasting liquids such as Chinese herbs, a fermented Chinese soy drink called Haelan, turkey tail tea, and so much more! Eight months into this natural route of healing, a friend mentioned bee venom therapy to me, and I knew it was something I had to try.
I’ve had a long-time fascination with bees. Back in 2007, I met the talented apitherapist, Tamara Wolfson, in Fairfax, CA. I attended one of her evening classes to learn about the properties of bee medicine. Years later I met the beekeeper, Jacqueline Freeman, author of Song of Increase. I spent several weeks studying horse Rolfing with her husband, Joseph Freeman, while Jacqueline would cook delicious meals for lunch. Jacqueline gave me a tour of her hive and a DVD about Top Bar hive beekeeping. The experiences I had while working with Tamara and Jacqueline became seeds for my future beekeeping adventures. I had no idea that a life-threatening illness would be the initiating circumstance for what has now become a profound relationship with the bees.
My first step in my apitherapy exploration was to book an acupuncture/bee venom session with Tamara Wolfson, who lives three hours away, to see how my body would react to this particular therapy. After only two visits with Tamara, I discovered my body loved the bee venom! I could feel the burning sensations of the venom healing breast cancer in a holistic way.
Tamara uses a unique and rare method of micro-dosing patients with bee venom. While holding a bee with tweezers, she is able to gently apply multiple stings with the same bee without the bee losing her stinger. Thus, the patient gets multiple doses of medicine while the bee keeps its life.
At the start of our treatment sessions, Tamara placed acupuncture needles on specific meridian lines where she felt my body needed healing. Then, she would use the live bee on acupuncture meridian lines to deepen the session. The result was powerfully cathartic. Once the initial shock of the stings had passed, I felt my body immersed in a new level of rest and relaxation. Some of the venom’s effects were mild swelling as blood rushed to the area and mild pain.
Hours after receiving the stings, I experienced an exuberant amount of energy where I could get a lot accomplished or go on long walks. Once that initial rush passed, I would feel tired and the need to rest. I often experience a high then a crash when I use powerful medicines for me. Please read my blog post, Bee Medicine, for more info about this experience.
Putting Bee Venom Therapy Into Deeper Practice
After my initial exploration of bee venom therapy with Tamara, I was fortunate to find Heather Luna, who lived nearby and could assist my healing journey with bee venom. Heather is a clinical herbalist, apitherapist, and director of the Acorn School of Herbal Medicine. I spent many months under Heather’s guidance, allowing my body to adapt to the full doses of venom, all the while strengthening my immune system. When I first started visiting Heather, I would start out with one or two stings around my breast. After months of seeing her twice a week, I was up to five stings a visit. Eventually, I felt confident to work with the bees directly, stinging myself. Heather patiently guided me in this process.
I learned of a wise woman named Cheyanna Bone through my conscious community of Grass Valley, who mentors others in the shamanic practice of beekeeping. After meeting her, I knew she was the perfect person to guide me in this sacred art. I knew I wanted a hive to work with, and caring for a wild swarm sounded more appealing than buying mass-produced commercial bees. Near the end of the swarm season, Cheyanna serendipitously found a small, delicate swarm that had gathered in a tree in our community, and she collected it for me. I had a very profound experience as the guardian of this swarm. My first steps of the process are documented in my blog post, Life, Death, and the Power of the Bees. It’s been one year since I have had bees, and I now have two Top Bar hives. With Cheyanna’s guidance, I confidently spend time with the bees without a veil, as trust is inherently present within our connection.
Stinging Myself With Bees
A question I frequently get is, “How do you sting yourself with bees?”
Well, I very gently take a bee from her abdomen with tweezers, and hold her up to the area where I want to be stung. By allowing her stinger to pierce my skin, the bee venom is administered directly to the breast tumor tissue. I usually sting myself three to five times around the breast, like a bull’s-eye. The stinging does hurt a bit, but my body has adapted to the venom.
Often times, I am asked if the bee dies after I am stung. The answer is yes; to get the full effect of the sting, the bee does indeed die. I have found a healthy collaboration with the bees based on respect, vulnerability, and trust. Each time I visit the bees to use their medicine, I ask permission. Then I see, intuitively, which bees want to help me with my healing. I know they are sacrificing their lives for me. After I sting myself, I thank them each for giving their life. I am gentle and loving with my bees and give them a safe, healthy space to live. In exchange they give me their medicine for my sacred journey of healing breast cancer.
The Endurance Of Bee Medicine
Bee medicine such as bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis, bee venom, and pure, raw honey have been an integral part of traditional medicine practices in ancient Egypt, China, and South America. As far back as 500 BC, bee venom therapy was written about in the ancient Chinese text, Huangdi Neijing. In 300 BC, Aristotle referred to the healing property of bee venom in his book, History of Animals. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used bee venom therapy for joint pain and arthritis. He described it as Arcanum, a mysterious substance whose curative properties he did not quite understand.
Today, many bee products are used in a therapeutic manner, in regards to cancer. I found myself voraciously studying Bee Venom in Cancer Therapy from Nada Orsolic, of the University of Zagreb. Orsolic teaches in detail how bee venom works in the die-off of cancer cells. In the abstract for this study, Orsolic states, “The cell cytotoxic effects through the activation of PLA2 by melittin have been suggested to be the critical mechanism for the anti-cancer activity of BV [bee venom].” In layman’s terms, melittin is toxic to cancer cells. As the melittin comes into contact with a tumor, it causes the tumor to pull back from the venom. Renal, lung, breast, liver, prostate, bladder cancer as well as leukemia cells have had success with the application of BV peptides. Studies show how bee venom inhibits cancer cell growth,
Blessed By The Bee Journey
There have been many gifts on my journey of healing breast cancer naturally, and time with the beloved bees has been a highlight. It has been two years since my diagnosis. I am still focused full-time on my healing, which requires patience, faith, and dedication. I use an alternative blood test called the ‘RGCC’ or ‘Greece’ test to chart my progress. Every few months, my blood is sent to Greece to check the amount of circulating tumor cell counts in my blood. For more info about this test and other great alternative healing cancer info, please check out my resource page. You can also checkout this podcast.
Test results show that I am definitely healing, and the cancer is contained. My biggest challenge is to face the fears that can creep in on a daily basis when living with this life threatening diagnosis. I find it takes a huge amount of courage to believe in my ability to heal myself with my 100 percent natural route of healing. My bees are a force of strength on my journey. I know I am tapping into an ancient channel of wisdom by being present with them and using their medicine. I feel vibrantly alive and recognize how precious each day is as I care for my bees, who have contributed so significantly to the strength of my immune system.
I am so grateful to these magical insects for the recognition into what is truly sacred in this life, as well as bringing deep healing for me and many others, both physically and personally.
Tara Coyote resides in Northern California on her 10 acre ranch Wind Horse Sanctuary with her four horses, beloved bees, dog, and gorgeous guy. She teaches Equine Facilitated Learning helping humans gain awareness through the power of the horse. She also offers coaching to cancer patients choosing a natural route to healing cancer. When not scooping horse shit and tending to her land, you can find her happily hanging out with her bees!
Tara sends a special thanks to Janice Sandeen for editing help with this article.
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