Apitherapy: Usage and Experience in German Beekeepers

Markus Hellner; Daniel Winter; Richard von Georgi; Karsten Münstedt


Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008;4(5):475-479. 

In This Article


Study Questionnaires

As there have been no previous studies on this subject, we had to develop a suitable instrument for gathering information—this was the Questionnaire for the Assessment of Beekeepers' Health (QABH). The questionnaire was based on previous research in other fields of medicine and on reports of various disorders in beekeepers.[8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17] The questionnaire assessed several aspects: The beekeepers' sociodemographic data, her/his current health status with a focus on bee-related health problems, her/his experiences with the therapeutic effects of bee products (tried out on themselves, friends, family and/or others) and the motivation for beekeeping. Bee venom allergy was classified according to Müller.[18] The intelligibility of the questionnaire was tested beforehand in 10 volunteers. The QABH was combined with the Inventory for the Measurement of Bodily Negative Affectivity—trait version (INKA-h) questionnaire which provides validated and robust evidence of emotional instability such as neuroticism, negative affectivity or stress-reactivity.[19] However, the underlying hypotheses for the use of this questionnaire do not relate to the topic of this analysis.


In Germany, some 81 818 beekeepers are members of the national Deutscher Imkerbund (DIB; German Beekeepers Association), an organization which is structured into regional groups. According to the association, only 5-10% of German beekeepers are not members. Most members subscribe to journals informing them of regional news. The Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag GmbH (German Agricultural Publishing Company; www.dlv.de) publishes three of these journals - Die Biene, Der Imkerfreund and ADIZ. Journal readership is particularly high in the following geographic areas: Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Rhineland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Saarland. The QABH and INKA-h were incorporated into one questionnaire and included in the May 2006 issues of the three Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag beekeeping journals sent to subscribers in the areas mentioned above. The survey, therefore, reached approximately 35 000 beekeepers (Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag GmbH, personal communication). Readers were asked to complete the printed questionnaire and to return it by mail or fax or to complete the electronic questionnaire on the internet. A copy of the questionnaire is available from one of the authors (KM).

Reference Group

Members of the beekeeping association in the Giessen region were asked to serve as a reference group in order to detect or rule out any potential biases between beekeepers who responded to our journal survey and non-responders. The Giessen association has 181 members: 178 individual members and 3 institutional members. Concurrently with the distribution of the questionnaire in journals, individual members of the Giessen association were asked to complete the questionnaire and return it using a postage paid envelope.

Statistical Analysis

SPSS version 10.0 (SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA) was used for data management and statistical analysis. Various statistical methods were used in the study, including simple descriptive methods, bivariate correlations, cross-tabulation and one-way ANOVA. A P-value of < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Ethical Approval

The study was submitted to and approved by the ethics committee of the Justus-Liebig-University.


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