Produced by bees to protect the hive from the cold and diseases, propolis is a veritable treasure trove of beneficial compounds. Discover its secrets and how to get the most out of it.
What exactly is propolis?
Propolis is a substance produced by worker bees from wax and plant resins. Resin exuded around the buds and bark of certain trees and shrubs is collected by foraging bees and transported back to the hive for processing by worker bees (1).
They in turn mix the resin with wax and saliva in their mouths to make an extremely rich paste with close to 400 active ingredients crucial to the life of the hive.
Propolis is used by bees as a cement to repair the hive or to seal openings, and form a protected entrance. It also acts as thermal insulation against the winter cold and thus reduces heat loss from the hive.
In addition, propolis protects the hive from disease with its antiseptic and antifungal properties. These properties are used by the bees to embalm intruders: with the cadavers thus enclosed in antiseptic, insulated coffins, they dry out, so preventing the spread of disease in the hive.
The action of these properties within the hive has led a number of research teams to study the potential effects of propolis on human health (2).
And it is these same properties that have ensured propolis has been used for thousands of years, for example, as a balm applied to wounds (3).
* THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.