Bee propolis

Hello everyone, this is a follow-up post on part one of this topic that I provided in an earlier post.

Today we are going to briefly look at Propolis and royal jelly as part of primary bee products. In an earlier post, we looked at Honey, pollen, and beeswax.

In laying the foundation for further discussion about the bees it is important that fundamental basics are addressed to provide a foundation for further engagement.

The purpose of this post is, therefore, to bring to you a brief introduction of the primary bee products as they will be focused on more deeply going forward

so without any further delay lets get on with the topic of the day

Bee propolis

Bee propolis is the resinous/gummy substance found in a beehive. This substance varies in color from dark to brown and sometimes even yellow.

The variation in color is based on the floral source and so this color variation should be expected across regions and seasons of the year owing to differences in floral resource bases.

Propolis has been shown to have many medicinal properties with some referring to the substance as natural wholesome medicine. Scientific studies have found that propolis is antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-fungal and even anti-parasitic (nematodicidal)

This has led to extensive use of propolis in alternative medicinal use throughout the centuries across many cultures. Various communities have found uses for propolis and have innovated many ways of its utilization

We will in this post give a brief overview of some of the sources of propolis, its components, and health properties.

Where do bees get propolis?

In their natural foraging, bees have been observed to scrap protective resins from the tender parts of flowers and buds of different plants.

They collect this resin and take it back to the hive to be used in various ways in the hive. Some uses to which bees put propolis in the hive are:

  • to line the nest cavities
  • to seal crack and loopholes in the hive
  • to reduce the hive entrances and keep away predators
  • to repair combs
  • to seal off in the hive any dead organism that is too heavy for them to carry out of the hive
  • they mix it with beeswax and use it to seal brood combs

These uses are of significant value to the bee colony as they leverage the antibacterial and anti fungal properties to protect the hive from infection.

During the collection of resins from plant parts, bees masticate the resins thus they get mixed with bee saliva. Propolis is thus partially digested which gives it some of its unique properties.

What is important to note here is that some bees have better propolis collection disposition than others. Generally, Apis mellifera is the only known honey bee species that collect propolis, Apis cerana and other Asian bees do not collect propolis.

Even among the Apis mellifera, some colonies are more ardent at propolis collection than others making propolising quality a clear observable trait that can be used in selection.

What is propolis made of?

There are several compounds in propolis, but these are variable depending on the type of tree bees source it from. It is therefore expected that the precise propolis chemistry will vary between different regions and across different seasons of the year.

However, as a general reference, scientific analysis of propolis reveal a number of compounds in various quantities in propolis:

  • Resins – flavonoids, phenolic acids, and esters
  • waxes and fatty acids
  • Pollen
  • Other organic materials – ketones, lactones, quinones, steroids, benzoic acid, Vitamin B3 and sugars

Health benefits of bee propolis

Bee propolis has bee use over the centuries to mitigate myriad health conditions. Some effects of propolis on human health as demonstrated in various pieces of literature include:

  • anti-diabetic activity
  • anti-rheumatic effects
  • anti-asthmatic effect
  • tissue regeneration
  • support of the pulmonary system
  • inhibition of melanoma and carcinoma cells

Propolis also has a range of anti-oxidants and is though to be irradiation protective.

I invite you post comments or question below, and don’t fail to contact me should you require any further help with the content of this post or any issue concerning beekeeping.

Thanks you

David Palla