PROPOLIS: THE PHARMACY OF BEES
Bees produce this substance by processing resin from trees, their saliva secretions, pollen balms and essential oils from flowers. Not every bee produces the substance.
In the hive there is a strict division of labor and so it is only special worker bees that are responsible for the production of propolis. Depending on the size of the hive and the surrounding trees, a hive can produce up to half a kilo of bee resin per year.
The material not only serves bees as a building material, but it can be also used to prevent diseases and to keep people healthy. Within a hive, high temperatures and high humidity prevail, which makes it easier for pathogens to spread. Propolis has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties and can thus protect the bee colony from disease infestation.
The entrance of each beehive is lined with a kind of “propolis carpet“ on which the bees returning to the hive land. Due to the antibiotic effect, it acts as a kind of "foot bath", which prevents the bees from introducing pathogens from outside into the hive.
In addition, if a foreign body enters the hive, and it is too large or heavy to remove it, it is immediately covered with propolis to prevent the spread of disease. It has already been reported even whole rodent animals (such as mice) were found mummified in the hive by this substance called "bud resin".
EFFECTS AND APPLICATION OF PROPOLIS
Propolis works against fungi, viruses and bacteria. The efficacy was confirmed in many laboratory experiments. This knowledge was already known in ancient Egypt, so even Egyptians also used this substance for mummification.
Propolis contains many flavonoids and phenols, ie phytochemicals, which are said to have antioxidant properties. Its exact composition differs from region to region and is dependent on the plants growing around the hive. In total, up to 200 different substances were detected.
Propolis is also traditionally used to accelerate wound healing, although studies canot completely clarify the exact mechanisms behind it. Animal studies have even shown that it can inhibit growth of cancerous tumors. Traditionally, propolis products are also used to strengthen the immune system and against stomach discomfort.
In natural cosmetics, it is also occasionally used as a substitute for preservatives.
As a rule, fine-meshed grids are simply inserted into the hive, which are then covered with propolis by the bees as a foreign body. When you remove these grids, you only have to cool them down below 15 degrees, so that the bee's resin can peel off. The beekeeper usually dissolves the bee's resin in alcohol and filters the resulting propolis tincture to remove foreign bodies, such as wood fibers.
PROPOLIS AS TINCTURE, OINTMENT OR IN DROPS
Propolis is used to treat abrasions, sunburn, sore throats and inflammation, especially in the mouth and throat. For this purpose, various remedies are commercially available, especially alcoholic tinctures, propolis drops, lozenges and ointments. Propolis is also often used in natural cosmetics, for example for face creams, blemished skin or generally as a gentle preservative with dual benefits.
Propolis tincture can be used directly for wound treatment and also for the preparation of mouthwash or gargle solution. Propolis ointment is suitable for treating skin irritation, minor inflammation and helps the healing of minor skin lesions. Lozenges or candies can bring relief for sore throat or throat infections, for example tonsillitis. When buying, pay attention to how much of the substance is actually contained in the product.
Attention: Propolis colors intensely, so keep propolis products away from textiles.
ALLERGY AND SIDE EFFECTS OF BEE RESIN
Attention: not everyone can tolerate propolis! Reactions (allergies) to caffeic acid ester are possible! This means you should be careful when using propolis for the first time as you may be allergic to it. If you have so-called "atopic disposition" and your skin and mucous membranes are generally sensitive, you are more likely to be allergic to propolis.
Even those who are allergic to bee stings should be careful with propolis. They may also get an allergic reaction.
As propolis contains up to 10% pollen, caution is also required by pollen allergy sufferers.Those who tolerate one bee product very well doen't mean they'll be able to tolerate others. It depends a lot on which plants grow in the vicinity of propolis-producing bee colony, and which pollen is contained therein. For example, one propolis product may contain highly allergenic poplar pollen, but not another.