Propolis or bee glue is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered 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 (0.24 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 °C (68 °F). At lower temperatures, it becomes hard and very brittle.
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:
- reinforce the structural stability of the hive;
- reduce vibration;
- make the hive more defensible by sealing alternative entrances;
- prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive, and to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth;
- 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, finds its way into the hive and dies 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.
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). "Typical" northern temperate propolis has approximately 50 constituents, primarily resins and vegetable balsams (50%), waxes (30%), essential oils (10%), and pollen (5%). Propolis also contains persistent lipophilic acaricides, a natural pesticide that deters mite infestations.
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 been 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 sinapinic acid, isoferulic acid, caffeic acid, and chrysin, with the first three compounds demonstrating antibacterial 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. Other flavonoids commonly present include galangin and pinocembrin. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is also a component of some varieties of propolis from New Zealand.
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, or from another sample in the same hive.
The National Institutes of Health rates propolis as "possibly effective" for treating cold sores, genital herpes, and post-surgery mouth pain. Propolis is also used to make cough drops for cough and throat irritation. Currently, there is "insufficient evidence" to rate the effectiveness of propolis in treating other conditions.
Propolis is being researched for the potential development of new drugs focusing on a variety of its properties, including those for possible immunomodulatory, anti-diabetic and anti-ulcer applications.
Propolis is used by some string instrument makers (violin, viola, cello and bass) as a varnish ingredient. Some workers use it to seal the surface of newly made bridges. Propolis was purportedly used by Antonio Stradivari in the varnish of his instruments.
Propolis is used by some chewing gum manufacturers to make propolis gum.
- Discussion of bee space in the beehive article.
- R Krell 1996. value-added products from beekeeping FAO AGRICULTURAL SERVICES BULLETIN No. 124 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome
- Simone-Finstrom, Michael; Spivak, Marla (May–June 2010). "Propolis and bee health: The natural history and significance of resin use by honey bees". Apidologie 41 (3): 295–311. doi:10.1051/apido/2010016.
- Walker, Matt (23 July 2009). "Honeybees sterilise their hives". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- Toreti VC; Sato HH; Pastore GM; Park YK (2013). "Recent progress of propolis for its biological and chemical compositions and its botanical origin". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013: 697390. doi:10.1155/2013/697390. PMID 23737843.
- Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Meeting (2008: Geneva, Switzerland). Evaluation of certain veterinary drug residues in food: 70th report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. (WHO technical report series; no. 954)
- Mesquita, R. C. G.; Franciscon C. H. (June 1995). "Flower visitors of Clusia nemorosa G. F. W. Meyer (Clusiaceae) in an Amazonian white-sand Campina". Biotropica 27 (2): 254–8. doi:10.2307/2389002. JSTOR 2389002.
- Tomás-Barberán, F. A.; García-Viguera C.; Vit-Oliviera P.; Ferreres F.; et al. (1993-08-03). "Phytochemical evidence for the botanical origin of tropical propolis from Venezuela". Phytochemistry 34 (1): 191–6. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)90804-5.
- Scott Armbruster, W. (September 1984). "The Role of Resin in Angiosperm Pollination: Ecological and Chemical Considerations". American Journal of Botany 71 (8): 1149–60. doi:10.2307/2443391. JSTOR 2443391.
- Bankova, V. (February 2005). "Recent trends and important developments in propolis research". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2 (1): 29–32. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh059. PMC 1062152. PMID 15841275. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
- Montenegro G; Mujica AM; Peña RC; Gómez M; et al. (2004). "Similitude pattern and botanical origin of the Chilean propolis". Phyton 73: 145–154. ISSN 1851-5657.
- Trusheva, B.; Popova, M.; Bankova, V.; Simova, S.; et al. (2006). "Bioactive Constituents of Brazilian Red Propolis" (PDF). Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 3 (2): 249–254. doi:10.1093/ecam/nel006. PMC 1475931. PMID 16786055.
- Park, Y. K.; Alencar, S. M.; Aguiar, C. L. (2002). "Botanical Origin and Chemical Composition of Brazilian Propolis". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 50 (9): 2502–2506. doi:10.1021/jf011432b. PMID 11958612.
- Qiao Z; Chen R (August 1991). "[Isolation and identification of antibiotic constituents of propolis from Henan]". Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi (in Chinese) 16 (8): 481–2, 512. PMID 1804186.
- Silva, B. B.; Rosalen, P. L.; Cury, J. A.; Ikegaki, M.; et al. (2008). "Chemical Composition and Botanical Origin of Red Propolis, a New Type of Brazilian Propolis". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 5 (3): 313–316. doi:10.1093/ecam/nem059. PMC 2529384. PMID 18830449.
- Cushnie TPT; Lamb AJ (2005). "Antimicrobial activity of flavonoids" (PDF). International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 26 (5): 343–356. doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2005.09.002. PMID 16323269.
- Demestre M, Messerli SM, Celli N, et al. (August 2008). "CAPE (caffeic acid phenethyl ester)-based propolis extract (Bio 30) suppresses the growth of human neurofibromatosis (NF) tumor xenografts in mice". Phytother Res 23 (2): 226–30. doi:10.1002/ptr.2594. PMID 18726924.
- Fearnely J. (2001) Bee propolis. Souvenir Press Ltd. London.
- Gavanji, S; Larki, B (2015). "Comparative effect of propolis of honey bee and some herbal extracts on Candida Albicans". Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine: 1–7. doi:10.1007/s11655-015-2074-9.
- Example of Cough Drops: Casa de Apicultor C. 38 No. 220 B x 49 y 51 Col San Juan. C.P. 97780 Valladolid. Yucatan, Mexico
- "Propolis:MedlinePlus Supplements". U.S. National Library of Medicine. January 19, 2012.
- Sforcin JM, Bankova V (2011). "Propolis: is there a potential for the development of new drugs?". J Ethnopharmacol (Review) 133 (2): 253–60. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2010.10.032. PMID 20970490.
- Gambichler T; Boms S; Freitag M (April 2004). "Contact dermatitis and other skin conditions in instrumental musicians". BMC Dermatol. 4: 3. doi:10.1186/1471-5945-4-3. PMC 416484. PMID 15090069.
- "Landau Carriage of 1743". Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- "Pete’s 53’ contains Propolis". Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- "GuruWax blend of propolis". Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- "Propolis when heated cause the wax to set-up". Retrieved 2011-03-08.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Propolis.|
|Look up propolis in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|