Doctor Frankenstein’s Honeybees

(Or, Utilizing “Reanimation” for Wintertime Bee-Sting Therapy)

[Editor’s note: the author thankfully credits Mary Shelly’s famous novel, but ultimately decided to explore characters that chose a different path. While fictional, this short story is interwoven with facts (and learned opinions) about honeybees, bee-sting therapy, and wintertime honeybee “reanimation”.]


Doctor Frankenstein’s Castle

The lightning flashed and illuminated, for only a moment, the cut-stone parapet of the castle’s turret. More lightning and more glimpses revealed, just beyond the parapet’s crenels, almost horizontal wind-blown snow. And, there was something else—a lone figure outfitted in a heavy parka and gloves, sweeping snow away from the foundation of a massive lightning rod assembly. Its base was composed of varying lengths of wrought angle iron assembled into an elongated pyramid of some ten meters in height, with the rod fastened at the apex. But, not even lightning flashes could penetrate the volume of snowflakes between the roof and the metallic peak. The icy flurry swirled about the structure as if to weave a cloak of invisibility.

“No thunder,” thought Dr. Frankenstein. “The discharges must be at least three kilometers away.”

Dr. Frankenstein pulled a lever, closing a switch that connected the tower to one end of a two-meter-long porcelain cylinder filled with disks of zinc-oxide varistors. The cylinder’s other end was already connected to ground. He left intact the large copper conductor that linked the lightning rod to the equipment far below in the great Hall of Experimentation.

The doctor carefully looked over his work. “Only one step remains,” he thought. He walked to the wall by the door that led downstairs and flipped a small switch.

A voice broke over the intercom, “It’s come alive! Victor, you’ve done it! Victor, can you hear me?”

“Yes, my darling. I can hear you. So, you’re saying that we have a positive result?”

“Oh my god, Victor! The picture is crystal clear! Now, get your butt down here! I have the popcorn ready! They’re showing The Bride of Frankenstein!”




The next morning, in the Creature Comforts Chamber, adjoining the great Hall of Experimentation, Dr. Frankenstein and his lab assistant, Igor, perused the glass cubicles containing test subjects, and reviewed experiment findings.

“So,” started Dr. Frankenstein, lifting a page from his clipboard and skimming through the contents of the next page, “the DNA-modified salamander cells transplanted to the mouse have begun to replicate?”

“Yes, Doctor,” replied Igor. “At the site where the original tail was surgically removed there is new growth. It appears to be mouse-tail cells.”

“That’s good.” Dr. Frankenstein continued to view additional pages. “And, mouse “A” with the severed spinal cord—the stem cells we harvested from its bone marrow and transplanted into the spinal cord separation have begun to conduct some nerve impulses?“

“Yes, Doctor, mouse “A” can now move one of its hind legs.”

“And, mouse “B” that received the stem cells plus our catalyst?”

“Mouse “B” is faring much better, having regained control of both hind legs.”

“Excellent! Igor, plan on preparing additional catalyst. Let’s make sure this procedure can be replicated.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

Flipping through his papers in search of a specific experiment and looking puzzled, the Doctor turned his gaze toward Igor. “Igor, I’m not finding the data on the percentage of honeybees that were reanimated.”


“Oh, Igor! You’re going to have to increase your dosages of ginkgo biloba and turmeric root. Don’t tell me you forgot!”

“I’m so sorry, Doctor! I beg your patience. Please explain the procedure again.”

Dr. Frankenstein smiled, “I’m just teasing you, Igor. It’s not actually reanimation—I just use that word because it’s so much fun to say, “reanimation”. Mrs. Frankenstein needs some bee-sting therapy for her knee and I’d like you to collect a batch of those poor little quiescent girls from the hive floor.”

Igor grinned. “Right away, Doctor!”

Igor donned his coat, hat, gloves, and boots and set out for the apiary. He lowered the drawbridge, proceeded through the main castle gate, over the moat, through the graveyard, along the melilot field, and finally arrived at the assemblage of the doctor’s beehives. Taking a long tree-leaf stem, he gently swept as many bees as he could reach through the larger opening in the entrance reducer. He also found a few on the top of the snow around the hive, where they had apparently landed and were overcome with cold before they could return home. Igor suddenly felt a pang of empathy. “I’d better head back to the castle before I’m overcome with the cold,” he thought.

Igor set the plate of motionless honeybees on the operation table by Dr. Frankenstein. A tremendously joyous smile appeared on his lips and his eyes widened with delight. With an exaggerated accent of his Romanian ancestry, Igor blurted, “Master, shall I crank the Van De Graaff generator and charge the capacitors?”

Dr. Frankenstein loved it when Igor had fun at work and, as always, wholeheartedly joined in the performance. “Igor! I’m going to have to transplant a brain into that empty skull of yours! Not for this! Some of these bees are not really dead. They have just exhausted themselves from vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat and fell from the main clump. The ensuing cold led to their now seemingly unconscious state. The relative warmth in our Hall of Experimentation will revive them.”

Staying in character, Igor sighed with melodramatic disappointment, “Oooohhhh!”




After their luncheon in the Sweet Air Conservatory (they loved their alcove among the three-meter-tall bamboo plants), Victor and Elizabeth Frankenstein retired to her atelier. Its glass ceiling panels provided excellent lighting, yet, the room’s relative succinctness facilitated the recapture of an escaped honeybee.

Elizabeth took a seat, bared her knee, and, when the sting was applied, let out a little shriek.

“I’m so sorry to cause you discomfort, Eliza,” consoled Victor.

She took hold of his hand and held it, oh so tightly, as she grimaced with pain, but said nothing. After about a minute, the pain had almost completely subsided and she softly replied, “I’ve learned from you that the bee venom stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol to reduce inflammation in the area of the sting, promoting healing. And, I believe that the pain is instrumental in the treatment—that it evokes the body’s endorphins to relieve the pain, replacing it with a feeling of euphoria.”

“As I well know my love, but your pain is my pain.”

She turned her head toward her husband and gazed into his eyes with the ardor of dreams, “I love you, Victor.”

Victor returned her passionate gaze, interrupting it only momentarily to raise her hand to his lips and caress it with a kiss. “My dear, there is not a day that goes by that I do not thank the Creator for sending you to me. It is as if, while working in His Grand Laboratory, He designed and created you especially for me, knowing full well that I could not help but love you. And, I am not the only one. My darling, your loving nature compels all your friends and even your acquaintances to adore you and to look out for your wellbeing.” One corner of Victor’s lips rose a bit. “Why, just today the doctor—you know how he gets—asked me to convey to you his urgent desire to give you a thorough examination—a very thorough examination.”

“Well, I do have that appointment for tea with the other ladies this afternoon,” she teased, “but—perhaps it would be most beneficial to squeeze him in.” A playful smile erupted on her face as she flung her arms around Victor.

They laughed together as they embraced. “Oh, Eliza!” Victor gushed softly in her ear. Then, he faced her, searching her eyes for the love that nourished his soul—the flame upon which he depended for his very existence. It was there—it was always there. He could feel the fervor flare within his chest. He could feel the welling in his eyes that mirrored hers. Ever so gently, he kissed her, and as their tears blended upon their cheeks, a wave of energy overtook them, flooding their hearts with rapture as it passed—and then another. But, the third wave swept them away with it. Suddenly, they were no longer in her workshop—they were—it was the meadow by the creek—it was spring—it was their first kiss…




References and Credits
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Health and the Honeybee by Charles Mraz
West Mountain Apiary
Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia (
Image appears through the courtesy of “@freepik”, at ‘‘.