Propolis: Defending Honeybees, and Humans Too!

Propolis: Defending Honeybees, and Humans Too!

In 2013 60% of all the honeybees in the United States died. Honeybees were leaving healthy hives and not coming back. With no one able to pin down a single simple reason for the problem it came to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Basically, the bees gave up. The complex and mysterious glue that kept the colonies together lost its power and the superorganism that is the beehive fell apart. Colony Collapse Disorder is a symbol of what happens when you push nature to its limit. Eventually it gives up.

Propolis: The Bees’ Immune System

For human beings it’s our immune system that makes sure that everything works in harmony and steps in when there is imbalance. For the honeybee its propolis that performs this function. Propolis, a word coined by Aristotle, means ‘Defender of the City’.

Honeybees makes propolis from plant and tree resins. The resins produced by the poplar tree are a particular favourite for the bees in temperate climates. They process the resins through their enzymatic system and add wax. The result is propolis, a complex blend of around 300 biochemicals which the bees use to defend their colonies.


How The Bees Use Propolis

The bees build the entrance to the hive with propolis, creating an antibacterial tunnel through which all the bees must pass. Propolis supports every cell the honeycomb, without it the comb would not be able to carry its own weight. Every cell is lined with refined propolis, sealing out moisture and creating an antimicrobial environment.

But propolis is not antimicrobial in the same way as pharmaceutical antibiotics. Pharmaceutical antibiotics are designed to destroy bacteria, whereas propolis has a group of chemicals called flavonoids which work more by preventing single bacteria from collecting to form dangerous bacterial battalions called biofilm. Recent research has shown that propolis can disarm harmful biofilms, such as MRSA.

How You Can Use Propolis

Propolis works in a similar way for humans as it does for the bees. Propolis is an adaptogen. It creates balance in the body, supporting our whole immune system. As well being able to disarm bacteria it keeps you well by supporting your body’s own ability to fight infections.

Propolis works as an antiviral by sealing up the protein coating of the virus preventing it from invading the cells it is in contact with. Coughs and colds are helped by propolis, as is fever and inflammation.

Its anti-inflammatory properties make propolis the gardener’s friend. Propolis capsules can be taken to treat inflammation, such as short or long-term joint problems. Propolis creams and gels can help heal those everyday gardeners’ cuts and bruises, as well as stopping hands from cracking. Propolis soap can revive and repair the most stubbornly hardened skin.

Propolis Skincare Range

Propolis truly is one of nature’s most remarkable substances, protecting honeybee colonies from infection and disease. The naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of propolis make it the perfect natural remedy for dry, sore, and irritated skin – as well as supporting your entire immune system.

About the Author

James Fearnley has been researching the properties of propolis for over 30 years working with universities round the world, publishing two books:

James has travelled the world collecting propolis samples to analyse back home in Whitby, North Yorkshire, contributing to over 30 peer review journals exploring the many ways that propolis can help with human health.

BeeVital produce the largest range of  high quality propolis products in the UK, backed up by decades of research managed by their own trained chemists and researchers in their own laboratories.

Apiceutical Research Centre was founded by James in 2010 and has built an international community of researchers looking at how propolis works for both the honeybee  and for man.

The IPRG (International Propolis Research Group) which James founded in 2016 runs international conferences of  this now global research community and provides a platform for information, research collaboration and online conferences via its own unique online communication platform.

James’ BeeArc Project planned to open in 2025 will create a threefold exploration of ways in which the honeybee can inspire our social, economic and cultural life through a combined Discovery Centre, Research Centre and Sustainable Village

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