What is Propolis?
Propolis originates from the sap of coniferous trees. Worker Bees collect the resin from the trees and carry it to the hive on their legs where other bees assist in removing beads of it from the worker bees legs because it is too sticky to preform this task as a solo job. They then combine this resin with honey, wax and stomach enzymes to convert this resin into "bee glue" or sealant in the hive of which we call Propolis. Propolis is used to seal cracks and patch up holes to protect the hive from weather and outside threats. Honey bees keep a very controlled environment inside the hive, and this is part of what makes honey and its moisture content so specific before the bees cap the honey at about 17-18% moisture. Honey Bees also use Propolis to fight off harmful pathogens, bacteria and fungus with its antimicrobial properties making it known in the community as "Bee Penicillin".
How is Propolis Harvested?
Propolis is a sticky substance and is not always a smooth material to harvest. Beekeepers will often utilize a special screen that is used in place of a top cover temporarily. This screen has wide holes similar to those the size of a queen excluder. (See Below - Brushy Mountain Bee Farm Propolis Trap $8). The bees fill in these holes with Propolis because it is in their nature to seal up unwanted openings. In fact Bees have a preferred space allotment of which they call "Bee Space" that entails about 3/8 of an inch and will often fill in spaces of the hive that are larger than 3/8 inch with Propolis and honeycomb. After this frame is full, the beekeeper can remove and freeze this screen. Make sure to replace the screen with a top cover, as the bees need to be secure and dry. After the screen has frozen, extract the Propolis like ice cubes by twisting the screen so shards of Propolis come to. Try this recipe below!
Propolis Infused Oil Recipe:
Double Boiler (Pyrex measuring cup and a saucepan will do)
Cheesecloth or Coffee Filter
1/2 TBS Propolis
3 oz Olive oil or Sweet Almond Oil
Small Mason Jar
-Use a double boiler to mix the propolis and the oil together.
-For a double boiler system you can use a pyrex measuring cup over 2 inches of hot water on the stove.
-Do not let the heat of the mixture rise above 120 degrees.
-High temperatures can destroy the nutrient benefits of bee products like propolis and honey.
-Keep stirring the mixture for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
-Take your cheese cloth or coffee filter and place over a mason jar, secure with rubber band.
-Pour your mixture through your filter system into the jar and let it cool.
-May have to double filter if you find that you have solid propolis in your jar.
-Store in a dark space or in an amber jar - not in direct sunlight.
Skin Benefits or Propolis
- Aids in healing minor burns and cuts
-Natural sealant for skin to retain moisture
-Reduce redness of skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties
-Helps fight acne due to its anti-microbial properties