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What is Propolis?

Meaning of the word
Propolis, comes from the Greek words, "PRO" and "POLIS" meaning "in front of city".
It refers to the guards that stood in front of the city gates to protect the city against unwanted visitors.

Origin
Propolis (bee glue) comes from a sticky resinous substance from leaf buds, twigs and tree bark.

Our honeybees collect these resins as a basic material from poplars, birches, pine trees and carry it to their hives, the same way as they carry pollen.
After the resin is chewed by the honeybee and mixed with their salivary secretions, wax flakes and other substances.
The final product is called propolis and it is the strongest desease fighter in nature!

The colour of propolis ranges from yellow to dark brown depending on the origin of the resins.
But, even transparent propolis has been reported by Coggshall and Morse (1984).

The use by honey bees
The honey bees use this material for two very specific and important purposes:
The main role of propolis is the protection of bees against disease.
Bees coat every inch of the internal walls of their hives with a thin layer of propolis to sterilize the comb and keep their hives free of bacteria.
The hive is an enclosed unit, it is hot and moist, the perfect breeding ground for microorganisms.

Because of the propolis, the hive is virtually free of bacteria, mold and mildew.

Also to protect the young larva, bees use propolis as an antiseptic lining in breeder cells before the Queen lays her eggs.
Propolis has also been shown to kill American foulbrood (Bacillus larvae), the most important bacterial disease of bees (Mlagan and Sulimanovic, 1982).
Therefore propolis is of vital importance for the survival of the bees.

The bee is the only insect ever to have been found to be bacteria free, due to the action of the propolis.
It is said that the interior of a bee hive is many times more sterile then the operating room of a modern hospital.

The second role of propolis is to reinforce the hive by sealing , cracks and crevices to protect the hive against climatic changes, such as wind, cold and rain, as well as for building fortifications and < narrowing
the entrance of the hive making it easy to defend the hive against intruders.
Any intruders that get into the hive, such as mice, are stung to death and then embalmed with a protective coating of propolis.
This coating guards against bacteria and viral infections generated by the deterioration of the intruder.

Because of these properties, the ancient Egyptians also used Propolis in the embalming process of deceased loved ones.
Anthropologists and scientists have found remains of propolis on the skins of mummies and came to the conclusion that the oils used in the embalming process contained a certain amount of propolis.
Propolis worked as an exellent preservative to keep the bodies intact for the after-live.