How do bees prevent hive infections? The antimicrobial properties of propolis
H. Fokt1, A. Pereira1, A. M. Ferreira2,3, A. Cunha1,4, and C. Aguiar1,5
1 Department of Biology, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
2 Department of Chemistry, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal
3 CQVR (Chemistry Centre of Vila Real), 5001-801 Vila Real, Portugal
4 CITAB (Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences), Campus de Gualtar,
4710-057 Braga, Portugal
5 CBMA (Molecular and Environmental Biology Centre), Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
Propolis is a wax-like resin produced by honeybees from substances collected from plants, which are mixed with beeswax and other compounds of bee metabolism. Its chemical composition depends on the specific local flora at the site of collection and also of climatic characteristics, resulting in a striking diversity of constituents. Propolis is a mixture of balsams and resins, waxes, essential oils, pollen, and other substances which is used by bees in the construction, repair and protection of their hives, mainly due to its mechanical properties and antimicrobial activity. Because of the broad spectrum of biological activities and medicinal properties, propolis has been used by man since ancient times. Nowadays it is still used in traditional and alternative medicine, but also in the modern biocosmetic industry and in health foods. The renewed interest in this natural product is due to its antimicrobial, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, and other properties. Here we review the current knowledge about propolis diversity (geographic, compositional), its biological activities with emphasis to antimicrobial activity, and its potential therapeutic applications. Propolis ecological functions are also discussed.
* THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.