Can Bee Propolis Be Sustainable?


It is often hard to explain to new customers why we do not have some of the typical beekeeper products on our farmer’s market tables. Our farm, Mockingbird Meadows, has 35 hives as of this writing and they sit prominently above our farm pond. That is surely enough hives that we have plenty of pollen, honey, propolis, comb and royal jelly to go around.

Bee Propolis From Sustainable Beekeeping

Not Your Typical Beekeepers

We raise our bees sustainably. To us this means that we focus our practices on the health of the bees, above all else. We want our bees to be self-sustaining and healthy without heroic intervention from us. Our strict practices carry the theme that the bee knows how to do “bee” business better than we do. We stay out of her way, provide an environment in which she can be successful and remove all stressors that we can control.

To this end, there are some bee products we simply will never carry on our farm in any significant quantity. Propolis is a product I see gaining momentum in natural health circles. While I do not refute the research that propolis is healthy for humans, I disagree with “farming” it per se.

All-Natural Antibacterial For Whom?

Propolis is a compound that the bees make, combining the resin on leaf buds, bark, and flowers with their own mix of enzymes. The resulting product is often called “bee glue.” If you are a beekeeper, you have encountered the changeability of propolis. It is the texture of chewing gum, stretching to impossible lengths, in the summer when you pry off an inner cover. It is the texture of cement, requiring a chisel maneuver to crack and break, in the middle of a cold snap. Very simply, the bee uses this compound as one would use mortar between stones or bricks in a building. It strengthens their hive structure and stops the wind and light from entering the inside of their home.

We humans are capable of seeing that propolis has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties in relation to its healing effect in our bodies. We all too often overlook the fact that it is used in exactly the same way by the creature that made it in the first place.

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