Bees collect propolis on the buds and bark of various plants. It is therefore a substance of origin and composition that varies according to the type of gems and bark from which it was taken. Once then transported inside the hive, it is processed.
Propolis is a source of protection for plants against harmful microorganisms, in particular fungi, bacteria and viruses present in the environment. Its consistency can change and varies from season to season, it is composed of rubbery, resinous and balsamic substances. Once the bees have collected the resin, they then mix it with their saliva with a very particular technique, that is, kneading the mixture and forming small balls which are then transported to the hive.
Propolis is very sticky as it is resin based; therefore, once they arrive in their colony, the bees left in the hive help the harvesters to remove the propolis balls from their legs and use it where it is needed!
Bees use propolis mainly for:
- Embalming intruders and foreign bodies: to defend themselves, when an animal that bees perceive as large manages to enter the hive, it is killed using the sting;
- To avoid possible dangers caused by decomposition, bees cover it with propolis so as to preserve the body from decomposition and become a health problem for the hive;
- Disinfect the hive: They use propolis to clean the cells before the queen bee lays her eggs;
- Seal the entrances: All small spaces are sealed in order to prevent the entry of other animals, air and humidity that would damage the hive.
In general, we can say that propolis contains:
- organic and mineral compounds;
- wax and fatty acids;
- essential oils and volatile substances.
It is also particularly rich in flavonoids, polyphenols, copper, zinc, calcium, iron, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 PP, vitamin E, vitamin C.
Propolis has numerous beneficial properties, it is used as a food supplement to solve various problems:
- It is useful for healing
- It helps the healing of damaged tissues and the healing of wounds, grazes, sores and burns.
- Contrasts respiratory tract infections such as colds, pharyngitis, sore throats, tracheitis, etc.
- It helps fight flu and parainfluenza viruses, as propolis is a natural antibiotic that inhibits the growth of viruses by preventing multiplication.
- It helps to improve the immune defenses, in fact it stimulates the immune system
- It treats infections of the mouth such as gingivitis, inflammation of the mouth and palate
- Helps disinfect wounds thanks to the high content of flavonoids, carrying out a profound antimicrobial and antibacterial action
- Contrasts mycoses as it has an antifungal action, especially against Candida albicans and mycosis of the skin and nails
Curiosities about propolis
The color can vary greatly in shades of yellow, red, brown and black. Depending on the plant from which it is drawn, the aroma of the smell changes. The collection of propolis is possible only by detaching them on hot days, so as to allow the bees to take bits of resin from the tree branches, becoming more malleable. By varying the harvesting period, the type of vegetation and the resin consequently also the chemical composition of the propolis varies, as well as the color, aroma and flavor.