Author Topic: Propolis in the hive  (Read 10790 times)

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Offline Bakersdozen

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Propolis in the hive
« on: November 12, 2023, 10:57:29 am »
I just returned from the state organization bee meeting.  We had two different speakers talk on the subject of propolis.  I was appreciative as propolis is seldom the topic of a presentation and authors don't write much about it.
The first speaker was Dr. Laura Stan, who is working here temporarily and is from Romania.  We all know that Propolis is a combination of plant resins, beeswax, and gut enzymes.  The quality and quantity of propolis in the hive depends on honey bee genetics, the environment, and colony strength.  The chemical composition of the propolis depends on the plant source.  Plant sources she referred to were poplar, chestnut, plum, cherry, birch,  In the past, I heard Dr. Marla Spivak sing the praises of cottonwood resin.  Like nectar, honey bees will seek out the best resin sources to collect.  If choices are limited, they will settle for whatever they can get including sources that resemble tree resin, like asphalt.  Like pollen, resins can contain pesticides.  Honey bees use varying amounts of beeswax to mix with the resins depending on what they are doing with the propolis.  Bees reducing the entrance of the hive are creating a method of disinfecting their bodies as they come and go.  They rub their bodies against the propolis as they leave and enter the colony.  In short, they are immunizing the colony.  Honey bees use around 30% to 50% beeswax mixed with resins to seal cracks in the hive. 
Dr. Stan's recipe for Propolis tincture:
Collect and freeze propolis.
Break frozen propolis into chunks.
Grind propolis with a coffee grinder.
In a glass jar combine a mixture of 1:30 (w:v) propolis and 70%ethanol.  Or, 1 gram propolis to 30 grams ethanol.
Keep 7 days at room temperature.  Stir or shake occasionally.
Filter the suspension and bottle the tincture.
This tincture can be used to mixed with honey to eat, mouthrinse, lip balms, .and bee stings.
For sore throats mix tincture with honey and cinnamon.
Resins are collected by old bees (aka foragers).  When collecting resins, foragers are not bringing in nectar.  So, if the beekeepers goal is to use propolis traps for harvesting propolis, the beekeeper will see a drop in honey production.
Never dehydrate the pollen as that will destroy the benefits. 

I will add to this thread soon the 'pearls of wisdom' I received from the second speaker and his research at the USDA Bee lab in Baton Rouge.
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Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Propolis in the hive
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2023, 10:59:06 am »
This is Dr. Laura Stan's recipe for an Immunity and Energy Boost:

Use an 8oz glass jar:
add 1/2 honey, raw and unheated
1/2 bee pollen, fresh or frozen no dried
10 ml propolis tincture
Store at around 4C or 39F, adapt the recipe to your needs.
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Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Propolis in the hive
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2023, 06:55:22 pm »
As I mentioned in my original post, we had two guests speak on the topic of propolis.  The second was Dr. Frank Rinkovich, USDA Bee Lab, Baton Rouge, LA.  The title of his presentation was Propolis and Honey Bees.  Honey bees use propolis to seal and regulate the weather.  Propolis helps the bees regulate brood temperature and is antimicrobial.  It will increase antioxidants and allow for a longer life of individual bees.  (Probably no coincidence that bees begin sealing up the hive with propolis in late summer and fall as the winter bees are being reared)  Propolis also helps reduce chalk brood.   If chalk brood is present, honey bees will increase resin foraging.

A first year colony that is small will produce less honey in favor of gathering resins for propolis.  Propolis is an investment the colony makes as apposed to producing lots of honey.  This is not true with a large colony.  A large colony will still produce a large honey crop.

Like wax, propolis can accumulate pesticides and herbicides although pesticides in propolis seems to have little effect on honey bees.