Sometimes called "bee glue" this material has
many properties that the bees use and humans can make use of the
material as well.
The order in which these items appear does not indicate any
hierarchy of importance.
Draught proofing, sometimes associated with Caucasian or
Greek bees, but exists to a greater or lesser extent in all bees. In
some cases the entrance will be reduced to just two or three bee sized
holes, in other cases curtains of propolis may be placed about
25 mm inside the entrance.
in some cases multiple curtains will be started from both sides to
form interlocking baffles. The films or membranes may not be entirely
of propolis... There may well be admixture of beeswax and in some
cases beeswax may become the major component in the obstructing
Vibration reduction... By gluing adjacent parts together the
whole structure of the nest is strengthened, but in particular any
relative movement between parts that is caused by vibration is greatly
reduced and the frequency of any vibration that does still occur is
lowered due to the larger lengths and masses of the items that are
Hole filling is a natural response to the hole itself, but
there is a significant advantage to the bees in using propolis to do
this... The filled holes become smoother and less able to trap disease
spores and bacteria and any such spores or bacteria that are present
before the hole filling are effectively encapsulated by the antiseptic
material and thus sealed and isolated from the bees. This feature
alone would be a strong driving force in natural selection, which
would select positively for bees that filled holes.
Propolis is sometimes used as aromatic barrier by the bees
(this aspect is described on the
Antibiotic, Antiseptic and Antifungal properties are much
promoted by the followers of 'alternative medicine'. I have used
Tincture of propolis quite often myself as an agent to promote healing
and I have found it useful in restoring sore throats to normal. But in
the main I think that the medical properties of propolis are often
overstated particularly with regard to aggressive conditions like
cancer. There are
allergy issues with
propolis as well.
Propolis screens (sometimes called propolis grids) can be
used to collect the raw product. The commercially produced grid is
rather like a perforated sheet queen excluder, but is made of a
polyethylene material three or four millimetres thick. Short round
ended slots are of about four millimetres width are punched in the
plastic and it is these slots that the bees fill with propolis if the
screen is placed on the hive instead of a crown board.
If the screen is removed and frozen then a slight flexing
will release lozenge like pellets that are the same shape as the slot.
The punching action and the soft nature of the sheet material produce
sloping sides to the slots which aid the removal of the pellets.
Netting made from polyethylene yarn can also be used for
collection. The adhering propolis being removed by flexure after
freezing in a similar manner to the grid.
Humans have used propolis since stone age times when it was
used to secure flint arrowheads or spear points.