The bees use propolis as a sanitizing sealant and waterproofing agent. It is the perfect material to repair combs and to make the entrance of the hive weathertight and easier to defend. The so-called “bee glue” is even used as an “embalming” substance to cover the carcass of a hive invader which the bees have killed but cannot transport out of the hive.
Bees keep their hive from being infected by coating the inside of the hive with propolis, thus preventing the spread of bacteria and fungi that would be detrimental to the well-being of the colony.
An ancient folk remedy
Propolis is one of the few natural remedies that has maintained its popularity over a long period of time. In fact, it has been used as a folk medicine since 300 b.C., leveraging its multiple properties and activities.
The pharmacologically active molecules in the propolis are polyphenols: dewaxed raw propolis contains more than 50% and more than 300 different polyphenols in different propolis. There are hundreds of studies supporting the healthy properties of propolis. These propolis properties are ascribed to three main activities: antioxidant, anti-fungal and antimicrobial.
Richness and variability
The plant origin of propolis determines its chemical diversity. Bee glue’s chemical composition and quantity of the actives depends on the specificity of the local flora at the site of collection and thus on the geographic and seasonal weather characteristics of this site.
Even if propolis samples analyzed from many different parts of the world (and with different chemical composition) have demonstrated they are active to the same indications but with differences related to the chemical composition, propolis diversity is quite a challenge to its use as nutraceutical and pharmaceutical ingredient…