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Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is used for small gaps (approximately 6 millimeters (0.2 in) or less), while larger spaces are usually filled with beeswax. Its color varies depending on its botanical source, the most common being dark brown. Propolis is sticky at and above room temperature (20° Celsius). At lower temperatures it becomes hard and very brittle.
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Propolis is a sticky resin that seeps from the buds of some trees and oozes from the bark of other trees, chiefly conifers. The bees gather propolis, sometimes called bee glue, and carry it home in their pollen baskets. They blend it with wax flakes secreted from special glands on their abdomens. Propolis is used to slickly line the interior of brood cells in preparation for the queen’s laying of eggs, a most important procedure. With its antiseptic properties, this propolis lining insures a hospital-clean environment for the rearing of brood.
For centuries, beekeepers assumed that bees sealed the beehive with propolis to protect the colony from the elements, such as rain and cold winter drafts. However, 20th century research has revealed that bees not only survive, but also thrive, with increased ventilation during the winter months throughout most temperate regions of the world.
Propolis is now believed to :
1.reinforce the structural stability of the hive
3.make the hive more defensible by sealing alternate entrances
4.prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive, and to inhibit bacterial growth
5.prevent putrefaction within the hive. Bees usually carry waste out of and away from the hive. However if a small lizard or mouse, for example, found its way into the hive and died there, bees may be unable to carry it out through the hive entrance. In that case, they would attempt instead to seal the carcass in propolis, essentially mummifying it and making it odorless and harmless.
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Constituents: Chemically speaking, propolis is a very complex mixture. Its chemical elements vary according to its source. Colors range from golden brown to brownish green to reddish brown to blackish brown. A broad analysis reveals approximately 55 percent resinous compounds and balsam, 30 percent beeswax, 10 percent ethereal and aromatic oils, and 5 percent bee pollen. Many flavonols contribute to propolis. Other components include cinnamic acid, cinnamyl alcohol, vanillin, caffeic acid, tetochrysin, isalpinin, pinocembrin, chrysin, galangin, and ferulic acid.
The composition of propolis varies from hive to hive, from district to district, and from season to season. Normally it is dark brown in color, but it can be found in green, red, black and white hues, depending on the sources of resin found in the particular hive area. Honey bees are opportunists, gathering what they need from available sources, and detailed analyses show that the chemical composition of propolis varies considerably from region to region, along with the vegetation. In northern temperate climates, for example, bees collect resins from trees, such as poplars and conifers (the biological role of resin in trees is to seal wounds and defend against bacteria, fungi and insects). Poplar resin is rich in flavonoids. “Typical” northern temperate propolis has approximately 50 constituents, primarily resins and vegetable balsams (50%), waxes (30%), essential oils (10%), and pollen (5%). In neotropical regions, in addition to a large variety of trees, bees may also gather resin from flowers in the genera Clusia and Dalechampia, which are the only known plant genera that produce floral resins to attract pollinators. Clusia resin contains polyprenylated benzophenones. In some areas of Chile, propolis contains viscidone, a terpene from Baccharis shrubs, and in Brazil, naphthoquinone epoxide has recently isolated from red propolis, and prenylated acids such as 4-hydroxy-3,5-diprenyl cinnamic acid have been documented. An analysis of propolis from Henan, China found sinapic acid, isoferulic acid, caffeic acid and chrysin, with the first three compounds demonstrating anti-bacterial properties. Also, Brazilian red propolis (largely derived from Dalbergia ecastaphyllum plant resin) has high relative percentages of the isoflavonoids 3-Hydroxy-8,9-dimethoxypterocarpan and medicarpin.
Occasionally worker bees will even gather various caulking compounds of human manufacture, when the usual sources are more difficult to obtain. The properties of the propolis depend on the exact sources used by each individual hive; therefore any potential medicinal properties that may be present in one hive’s propolis may be absent from another’s, and the distributors of propolis products cannot control such factors. This may account for the many and varied claims regarding medicinal properties, and the difficulty in replicating previous scientific studies investigating these claims. Even propolis samples taken from within a single colony can vary, making controlled clinical tests difficult, and the results of any given study cannot be reliably extrapolated to propolis samples from other areas.
Properties : Propolis is another medicinal marvel from the beehive. Research shows it offers antiseptic, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, and even antiviral properties. Propolis is Nature‘s premiere preventive. It is so powerful in action, it is often called Russian penicillin in acknowledgement of the extensive research the Russians have mounted on this wonder worker from the bees. Propolis demonstrates strong antimicrobial properties against various bacterial and fungal infestations. Even streptococcus bacteria have been shown sensitive to propolis.
Nature’s Preventive Medicine : Propolis has been justly called Nature’s premier preventive. The immune system is supported and strengthened by the ingestion of propolis. Modern scientific studies indicate that those who take propolis regularly escape winter colds and sore throats and seem to develop a natural immunity to common viruses, including the various strains of flu.
Chemical antibiotics destroy all bacteria in the body, both the friendly, (necessary flora required for healthy functioning in the entire gastrointestinal tract) and the bad intestinal flora. An individual who constantly takes prescribed antibiotics for one condition after another soon learns to his sorrow that the drugs may no longer work as well as they once did. As invading bacteria get “smarter,” the drugs become less and less effective.
Propolis, the natural antibiotic, works against harmful bacteria without destroying the friendly bacteria the body needs. Propolis has also been proven effective against strains of bacteria that resist chemical antibiotics.
The field of influence of propolis is extremely broad. It includes cancer, infection of the urinary tract, swelling of the throat, gout, open wounds, sinus congestion, colds, influenza, bronchitis, gastritis, diseases of the ears, periodontal disease, intestinal infections, ulcers, eczema eruptions, pneumonia, arthritis, lung disease, stomach virus, headaches, Parkinson’s disease, bile infections, sclerosis, circulation deficiencies, warts, conjunctivitis, and hoarseness.
Propolis helps regulate hormones and is an antibiotic substance that stimulates the natural resistance of the body. Propolis may be used by everyone, sick or healthy, as a means of protection against microorganisms. Propolis is also efficient against conditions caused by bacteria, viruses, or different fungi. Propolis cures many diseases because it is a special natural substance with strong effect.
You may use it as part of your daily program of supplementation. It has helped the bee society survive and thrive for over 45 million years. It may well help you survive … for a long time!
In musical instruments
Propolis is used by certain music instrument makers to enhance the appearance of the wood grain. It is a component of some varnishes and was reportedly used by Antonio Stradivari.
Propolis is used by some chewing gum manufacturers to make Propolis Gum.
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- Fall Maintenance (topics.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Sustainable Organic Farming in Prague: An Interview (bethstedman.com)
- Buzz about U professor is ‘genius’ – Minneapolis Star Tribune (startribune.com)
- Symptoms and Treatment Options for Honey Allergy (brighthub.com)
- Two experiments: Slow and sustainable (energybulletin.net)