Bee propolis, a natural resinous substance produced by bees to safeguard and mend their hive, is commonly known as "bee glue". Its medicinal properties have been utilized for various purposes since ancient times.
How Bee Propolis is Made & How it Protects the Hive
The process of making bee propolis starts with the bees collecting sap from various nearby plants. They then mix the resin with enzymes from their saliva and wax flakes from their bodies to create a sticky and highly antimicrobial substance. The bees use their mandibles to shape and spread the propolis throughout the hive, sealing gaps and strengthening the hive's structure.
Beekeepers will encourage propolis production using specialized propolis mats that contain many small holes. The mats are placed in the hive (they typically replace the inner cover) and are removed again once the honey bees have covered it with propolis. The mat is then frozen to make the propolis more brittle and easier to remove. Raw propolis is unsuitable for most human applications due to the presence of wax. Therefore, the next step in creating a usable bee propolis product is to dissolve the raw propolis and remove any wax. Any debris (plant matter, bee parts, etc.) is also removed at this stage. The dissolved extract can now be used in a tincture or throat spray, or added to a variety of other products like salves or soaps.