Bee Propolis: Make Use of Medicinal, Misunderstood ‘Bee Glue’


Pink Bee Propolis Crystals


Honeybees collect nectar and pollen from plants as sources of food. They also collect water to drink and an incredible substance called propolis. Propolis is made from a resin-like material honeybees gather from poplar tree buds, as well as buds from conifer trees. In our area of Western Massachusetts we have many poplar trees, in other parts of the country and the world honeybees collect resin to create propolis from other types of trees. Bees then create a mixture of this resin, pollen, wax, and natural enzymes to make propolis.


Inside the hive, honeybees use propolis to fill cracks, smooth out rough surfaces, and coat hive entrances. A few years ago, we observed hives in our apiary with more propolis were stronger, more populated, and had better overwinter survival rates through the long and variable winters in Massachusetts. These observations led to research about this natural substance bees seemed to be using as medicine: Could it have benefits for humans too?


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