Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Propolis: the Glue of the Hive


A honey bee with tree sap for propolis in her pollen baskets

I’d like to introduce you to one of the amazing products of the beehive--propolis! Propolis is sticky glue that bees make by collecting sap from the buds of trees, then mixing it with beeswax and some of their own special secretions to create a glue. The color and makeup of propolis changes from one part of the world to another, and even from beehive to beehive.  


Bees made this entrance smaller by filling it with propolis
Have you heard that beehives are cleaner than a hospital? That’s because bees like a clean home and because propolis is antibacterial, so it helps to stop disease and bacteria in a beehive!

With more than 180 different compounds, propolis is the hive's chemical weapon against harmful pathogens and diseases. Propolis is antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, antiviral, and antibiotic. It helps kill all the bad bacteria and keeps the hive healthy.
Scraping propolis off of the propolis trap

Honey bees have many uses for propolis inside the hive. It’s used to coat the whole inside cavity of the hive, smooth out any rough surface, and seal up cracks or holes in the hive. They even use it to imprison small hive beetles (a beetle that likes to hang out in beehives and eat honey) and to embalm (cover) dead animals like a mouse that might happen to die inside the hive.

In ancient times propolis was used to treat wounds
It’s not just the bees who find propolis useful, it has been used by humans for a very long time! Beekeepers harvest propolis from their beehives by using a propolis trap. In ancient times, propolis was used for its medicinal properties in treating wounds and tumors to fight infections and promote healing. The Egyptians even used it to embalm mummies!


Propolis is just as effective today as it was back then, and it is still used for medical purposes for fighting infection, boosting the immune system, healing cold sores, treating skin injuries, and healing the mouth after dental surgery. It can also be found in beauty and skin care products, cough syrups, and healing ointments. Propolis is even used in agriculture to fight plant viruses in certain crops! 
 
Raw propolis from a beehive


Propolis is another incredible product from honey bees that is important to the beehive and useful to humans. You can find propolis and many propolis products online, at your local health food store, or from your local beekeeper. 

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