By Janee Law
When a new customer walks into Frederique Keller’s BeePharm Apitherapy & Acupuncture in Northport, she makes a point to take a second to talk to them about the benefits bees can yield.
She might ask, “Do you want to see my bees?”
Although some are hesitant, for those who are willing, Keller shares her knowledge of the insects and fills them in on how their role in nature is one that can be appreciated and respected.
Keller, who was born in France and now lives in Northport, learned this early on in life as she would watch her grandmother use bee stings to relieve pain.
“Natural medicine was normal there and my grandmother used to sting herself for arthritis of the knees and then wrap her leg in cabbage,” Keller, 59, said. “I thought this was normal.”
Her grandmother used to also teach her how to make beauty products using natural and local ingredients. ”Food is your medicine,” she said.
Keller immigrated to Boston when she was 12 years old, and eventually moved to Northport, where she graduated from the high school in 1976. She went on to earn a master’s degree in oriental medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado in 1995.
Along with owning BeePharm, Keller is a licensed acupuncturist, medical herbalist, president of the American Apitherapy Society and hobby beekeeper for the past 27 years.
Although she opened the 491 Main St. store in April, Keller said she’s been running BeePharm for 15 years. But she’s still getting started with the new space; she planned to open the retail portion of it for last weekend, and expects to continue opening it on weekends moving forward.
From her 11 beehives, Keller extracts honey, beeswax, bee venom, propolis, royal jelly, pollen, and bee bread to develop into products that she’ll sell at the store, such as candles, raw honey, bee venom eye drops, bee venom face cream, bee venom balm, propolis chap stick and soap. She also uses these materials for her beauty product line, Beauty & the Bee.
This season, Keller said, her hives are thriving.
As an acupuncturist, Keller treats sports injuries, pain and women’s health issues, and also administers bee stings through apitherapy, which is a form of therapy using bee products. Through apitherapy she helps treat arthritis, Lyme disease, skin conditions, multiple sclerosis and other conditions, according to the American Apitherapy Society.
Depending on the condition, Keller said, she sees clients three times a week and administers 8-12 bee stings per session.
As she does with bees in general, Keller also wants to inform her customers about apitherapy.
She said she loves seeing how her treatment helps others.
“Bees give life. To see the light go on in somebody’s eyes that never would have thought of this and to see how it transforms their lives, that’s why I do it,” Keller said. “That happens a lot and it never gets old. It’s part of who I am and I can’t imagine ever retiring.”