When I was younger my Dad thought it would be special to begin a unique project with me and my sister. He decided that we should start up beekeeping! When we were beekeeping, the main thing we were looking to produce was honey; we would sell it by the bottle on our street like other kids had their lemonade stands. While most beekeepers work with bees in order to produce honey, there are so many other benefits to the hobby. Some people use honey to heal wounds, keep the wax to make candles, or collect pollen to sell, and some beekeepers even use their bees venom to reduce the symptoms of arthritis! One thing that most people don’t know about, and that many beekeepers do not monetize, is the production of propolis.
Bee propolis is a product formed by bees within their hive, but has nothing to do with the honey production process. Propolis is a mixture of beeswax, bee saliva, and certain resinous substances coming from flowers, plants, and the saps of trees. Because propolis can vary in how it is made, it can come in a bunch of different colors. Propolis is used to fill tiny gaps within the hive, cracks, or from the outside elements. Larger cracks are filled with beeswax which is formed through a separate process. The substance is important to the hive’s protection from outside elements and from predators. Most beehives maintain a large amount of propolis (up 1 one pound) within the hive for emergency repairs. Just like honey, propolis is thought to have antibacterial properties, and is also thought to discourage parasites from entering the hive, and also prevent fungus from growing. When looking more into it I actually found so many more interesting uses of propolis by the bees. For example, if a small animal like a lizard or large bug enters the hive and dies within the hive, it often is impossible for the bees to remove such a large object. However, without removing the decaying animal it could pose a danger to the bees, including sickness and attracting other creatures into the hive. Because of this, bees may actually encase the carcass in propolis in order to prevent decay and reduce odors from escaping. As propolis is used by bees for many practical reasons, it has also been used by humans in traditional medicine for centuries.
The effects of propolis have been evaluated through many scientific studies, and it has been found that there is insufficient evidence to support the claims that propolis can improve any health condition. However, many people claim that it can be used to improve the symptoms of cold and flu like conditions when administered through specialized solutions. Propolis is often applied for dermatological uses as well. Many people believe that propolis can be used in crying ways to reduce acne, heal wounds and treat burns and possibly reduce the scarring from these instances. Some people even go far enough to substitute propolis for real medicines to reduce the appearance of herpes outbreaks and other cosmetic issues. Propolis can also be administered in certain oral hygiene products to prevent caries and in an attempt to reduce the symptoms or occurrence of gingivitis.
Propolis contains high concentration of a substance called flavonoids, which are known to have concentrated antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are substances most commonly occurring in fruits, vegetables, and other substances that may be high in antioxidants such as red wine and green tea. Bee propolis, which is known to be one of most concentrated sources of flavonoids in the world, is thought to promote a healthy body in many ways. Flavonoids are often ingested in order to promote immune responses, decrease seasonal allergy symptoms, and may possibly even support a strong digestive system. However, scientific research on propolis is somewhat limited.
There are many ways that you can ingest or apply propolis. Propolis can come in capsule supplement forms, oral hygiene solutions, topical creams, dissolving lozenges, powders, and in various other products. While research is continuously being conducted in order to discern the true health effects of propolis, it is still used in many health and cosmetic products for its proposed health benefits and various other beneficial properties.