What Is Propolis And What Are It's Uses
As a new beekeeper you go into your hive to check on things and find this sticky, brownish colored substance all over everything! The inner cover is practically glued shut, the frames are stuck to each other and either the super or brood box, and if you have a super or queen excluder it’s stuck down to the brood box. You have to pry everything apart just to get in to check on your honeybees. This “glue” is called propolis and the bees make it. It would seem they put it everywhere, and to a beekeeper it feels like they’re trying to keep you out.
So, where does propolis come from? Honeybees collect substances from tree buds, sap flows, and other botanical sources to make a resinous mixture. Usually propolis is a dark brown color but can vary depending on the plant source and region your bees are in.
Why do honeybees propolize their hives? Resin is in trees to seal wounds and defend against bacteria, fungi, and insects. When honeybees gather this to use in their hives they get the same benefits as the trees. Propolis also reinforces the stability of the hive and reduces vibrations from outside causes. I’m sure you’ve also noticed that propolis fills every crack and hole in your woodenware. Having all possible alternate entrances sealed, the honeybees are defending their hive using the propolis. One more use for propolis that isn’t too pleasant to think about is honeybees use it to mummify the carcass of an intruder, like a lizard or mouse that may have found it’s way in the hive. Since the bees aren’t able to remove such a heavy object from the hive they attempt to seal the carcass to make it odorless and harmless.
What are the medical uses of propolis? Some health food stores sell propolis for consumption, and it can be found in traditional medicines as well. Various medical conditions can be treated with propolis such as: inflammations, viral diseases, ulcers, superficial burns or scalds, promotion of heart health, strengthen immune systems, and reduce chances for cataracts. It is believed to have antibiotic and antifungal properties as well as anti-tumor growth properties.
Although propolis can be aggravating to a beekeeper trying to get into a beehive it seems there are many advantages to propolis not only for the honeybees but us humans as well. Read more detailed information at wikipedia. It is a good idea to scrape off the excess propolis from surfaces that we attend to frequently. I suggest that you save the propolis and make a ball of it or put it in a container for you to use later. Keep in mind that if your propolis gets cold it will become brittle, so just warm it back up or keep it at room temperature.
If you know of any other good uses for propolis, or have any other questions please leave a comment.