Any time I find an aspect of beekeeping where a yield can be realized I try to maximize it. Financial viability of a bee operation by honey alone seems like it could be difficult. Wax is a common product that people think about when they think BEES, but propolis is one of the products most new beekeepers may have never heard of. You definitely know what it is after you rip some top-bars off some frames that are glued in a box, or get it on some clothes that will forever afterwards have a dark resinous stain on them. Many beeks have the typical beekeeper response. They scrape it, put it in a container and then store it somewhere….. forever…… Others scrape it off and discard it. If you aren’t utilizing it as a marketable product it is a waste. I didn’t really know what to do with it the first several years I kept bees. My wife will attest…. I had one common “beekeeper tendency” way before becoming a beekeeper. I DO NOT throw things away!
For several years I have been scraping propolis off of equipment and putting it into empty coffee containers (See Fall Cleanup ). The containers have been accumulating in the deep freezers around here. This time of year freezers get defrosted and cleaned. We are adding meat so inventory and organization is occurring. There was a comment made about all these coffee cans full of frozen propolis. Something along the lines of … “Jason…. What is the plan for THIS STUFF?”
I have been messing around with propolis for the last couple years looking for something to do with it. In 2014 extracts of propolis in alcohol were made. Making extracts appeals to my nerdy inner pharmacist, but I view it as expensive and too much like my day job. You have to come up with high proof ethyl alcohol to make the extract. I have read where some people use brandy, but I just used Everclear from the liquor store. There are some who can and will distill their own alcohol for this, but that requires a lot of energy and time. You need to be able to weigh out a known mass of propolis and add it to a known volume of a known proof alcohol to make an extraction of a known percentage. 10%, 20%, and 30% propolis extracts were made at our house.
I have concerns about using these extracts. First off there are MANY potential active ingredients in propolis and an ethanolic extract will only contain compounds that are soluble in ethanol. If there are active compounds that are NOT soluble they won’t be in the product. Complicating this even more is that propolis from different geographic regions may contain different proportions of resins or even totally different resins all-together based on the species of plants found. Fascinatingly even propolis made from different species of plants can have similar properties though the active ingredients can be different. So…. unlike my normal job, you know what properties the propolis will likely have, but no IDEA which active ingredients are present.
I figure why make an extraction at all. If whole propolis is good enough for my bees why not just take it as is? As a result I have been putting it in my wife’s (only) coffee grinder and making powder out of it. Holly has more patience than anyone else in the world when it comes to my antics so make sure it’s OK before you do the same because it will discolor the grinder. Afterwards I keep the powder frozen until it is time to pack it into capsules. Propolis is actually pretty easy to work with while frozen.
I purchased a capsule machine and empty “00” capsules from e-bay. It’s not really mechanical, more what I would call a JIG, but in any event it allows me to make 50 caps at a time. Since getting the thing I have made over 2000 capsules. Currently I have been giving these to people that I know suffering from specific conditions that I’m curious about. Since I don’t have a pharmaceutical company budget my trials will be considerably smaller. No double blind studies as of yet. I am primarily going to focus on giving it to people who have problems with frequent cold-sores to see if there is a daily dose that decreases the frequency of outbreaks. Due to reports of increased circulation I have been providing some to a friend that has Raynaud’s disease. I have a friend with prostate cancer that is taking some as well in addition to his other therapy.
Just a disclaimer here: I am in NO WAY advocating at this time that anyone forego currently accepted treatments in favor of propolis alone. I’m merely investigating here and trying to be safe about it. ALSO – Just like almost any product of the hive, propolis has the potential to cause allergic reactions. The risk is low…. but proceed with caution.
Propolis has many purported beneficial properties and has been used since ancient times for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral effects. From healing wounds, burns and skin infections when used topically to reports of treatment of open sores, ulcers, inflammation, fever and increasing phagocyte activity, propolis has an amazingly LONG list traditional uses. I must admit, being involved in medicine the way it is practiced today these reports even make ME a little skeptical. It was part of my “formal” education that Quackery’s Hallmark is that no matter the condition THIS PRODUCT WILL CURE IT!!!!
Is propolis quackery? I don’t think so, but there’s only one way to find out for sure….. My favorite thing in the entire world! EXPERIMENTATION!
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What have you been doing with YOUR propolis?
Have you been ingesting it or using it topically or in some other way?
Some of my reading list lately:
Oral supplementation of diabetic mice with propolis restores the proliferation capacity and chemotaxis of B and T lymphocytes towards CCL21 and CXCL12 by modulating the lipid profile, the pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and oxidative stress – Al Ghamdi et al. BMC Immunology (2015) 16:54
Caffeic Acid phenethyl ester as a potential treatment for advanced prostate cancer targeting akt signaling – Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14, 5264-5283; doi:10.3390/ijms14035264
Study of the effect of a propolis solution on the macrophage cultures: A cellular analysis – International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences ISSN: 2319-7706 Volume 3 Number 6 (2014) pp. 277-287
Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester, a Promising Component of Propolis with a Plethora of Biological Activities: A Review on its Anti-inflammatory, Neuroprotective, Hepatoprotective, and Cardioprotective Effects – 2013 International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Volume 65, Number 8, August 2013, Pages 699–709
Possible molecular targets for therapeutic applications of caffeic acid phenethyl ester in inflammation and cancer
journal of food and drug analysis 23 ( 2015 ) 11e18
Polyphenols as Key Players for the Antileukaemic Effects of Propolis – Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2014, Article ID 371730, 11 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/371730
Topical Application of Propolis Enhances Cutaneous Wound Healing by Promoting TGF-Beta/Smad-Mediated Collagen Production in a streptozotocin-Induced Type I Diabetic Mouse Model – Cell Physiol Biochem 2015;37:940-954