What is propolis I hear you say? Put simply, propolis is the material that bees make and use as a sort of glue or ‘no more gaps’. The bees make this wonder substance by mixing saliva and beeswax with sap, tree buds and other botanical elements. They use it as a sealant to fill gaps in the hives – this helps with their ever important climate control inside the hive. The bees can use this product to seal small gaps of less than 6mm across. This wonder gap-filler reinforces the structural stability of the hive, helps with temperature control and acts as a physical barrier against intruders.
One very interesting fact that I learnt while researching for this blog entry is that is an intruder makes its way into the hive and dies there, the bees may not be strong enough to remove it from the hive themselves. An example of this could be a mouse or lizard. So the bees seal the dead creature in propolis, which essentially results in mummification and preventing it from bringing disease into the hive. How fascinating!!
Another fun fact that I have just learnt is that propolis is used by some string instrument makers as an element of their varnish. It is used as a surface sealant or in the instrument maintenance. Have you learnt something new today like I did?
Like many bee by-products, propolis has been used in traditional ancient medicines for thousands of years. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that consumption or topical application of propolis is beneficial to modern humans.