Propolis Experts

James Fearnley the founder and CEO of BeeVital has been researching the medicinal properties of propolis for over 30 years. He has published the principal work in English on the subject: Propolis – Natural Healing from the Hive as well as a Propolis and Oral Health along with Dr. Munir Ravilia and Dr Philip Wander. He has contributed to over 30 peer reviewed scientific papers. Below is a summary of the research BeeVital has been involved in, establishing our position as leading propolis experts.

Collaboration with University of Strathclyde

Much of his scientific work over the last 15 years has been with a team of researchers at the university of Strathclyde led by Dr. Dave Watson. Some 25 papers have been produced by this team.

BeeVital builds its own research team

Over the last 5 years  BeeVital has built a small team at Nature’s Laboratory’s own facility in Whitby, North Yorkshire UK.  

The Team includes Dr Shankar Katekhaye (Research Director).

This team published its first paper in 2019 entitled Gaps in Propolis Research. It was published in the Apiceutical Journal.

The Apiceutical Research Centre

In 2010 James established Apiceutical Research Centre to research both the medicinal properties of propolis and sustainable beekeeping.

ARC staged the first UK conferences on Apiceuticals: Medicines of the Future in 2011 and in 2016 the first international conference Propolis in Human and Bee Health at the University of Strathclyde.

Global BeePharma Project

Following a discovery which related the chemistry and biological activity of propolis to disease prevalent in particular geographic areas, we undertook a 2 year research project visiting 5 African countries. We were looking primarily at why it is that propolis from areas where there was sleeping sickness in the population contained  an anti-trypanosome chemical. We explored areas where Leishmania and Malaria were present.

Global BeePharma is an ongoing project exploring the concept of geographic medicine i.e. that the honeybee in collecting propolis to support the colony is at the same collecting the local plants immune response to local challenges.

The International Propolis Research Group

Research into propolis took a significant step forward  when in 2016 James, along with international colleagues from Italy and Bulgaria formed the International Propolis Research Group.

The group’s first conference was held in Sofia in 2018 hosted by the Bulgarian Academy of Chemical Science and Professor Vassya Bankova. Vassya is the world’s leading authority on the chemistry of propolis and has  published over 200 scientific papers , many in collaboration with international research groupings.

IPRG online conference 2021

The IPRG held its first online conference in May 2021 Propolis: Medicine for Our Time  with over 400 attendees and nearly 40 scientific papers presented. The conference marked a significant increase in global and pharmaceutical interest in propolis with clinical trials data presented on the use of propolis in treating COVID  19, Metabolic Syndrome and Upper Respiratory Tract disease. Videos of the talks presented can be seen here.

IPRG Online Conference 2022

IPRG’s next online conference in May 2022 will focus on  Propolis : A major contribution to sustainable medicine . The conference will deepen an exploration of the sustainability issues that follow a medicine produced directly from a living being. Find out more at

Global Bee Medicine Group

The Global Bee Medicine Group grew out of a successful international collaboration and conference with International Federation of Apitherapists. This group is focussing on developing a community of researchers who are engaged in exploring the whole range of potential medicines  and therapies from the beehive including honey, pollen, bee venom, royal jelly and of course propolis.

Representation on International Standards Committee

James has represented the UK on the ISO (International Standards Organisation) Bee Products Committee which is setting standards for all bee products. He has been particularly active in helping to steer through a workable standard for propolis a substance which varies widely in chemical content by climatic zone.

Building the BeeArc

30 years researching both medicines from the beehive and the meaning and role of the honeybee have led James to develop an ambitious project, BeeArc, inspired by the honeybee. This three dimensional project will build a unique Discovery Centre a Research Centre and a model of a sustainable village community. The 7-million-pound project is planned to open in the summer of 2026.

University Collaboration

BeeVital has collaborated with many universities and research facilities in the UK including:

  • University of Oxford: Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory work and work with burns
  • John Moors University Liverpool: Chemistry of propolis
  • University of Birmingham: Efficacy of propolis mouth wash
  • University of Strathclyde: Chemist and biology of propolis
  • University of Bradford: Formulation and Patents
  • University of York: Green Extraction and Leishmania
  • Leeds Becket University Leeds: Synergistic activity of Propolis and Antibiotics
  • BDC Bio Renewables Development Centre: Refining Technology and in house Microbiology

Key Research Collaborators

University of Oxford  & Oxford Propolis Research Group

BeeVital began its  research effort in Oxford back in 1997 with the publication of two papers illustrating the antibacterial and then the anti-inflammatory properties of propolis .

Oxford Propolis Research Group

Through our collaboration with Oxford, we established the Oxford Propolis Research Group which included Professor Philip Calder, (Antibiotic and Anti-inflammatory research) Professor Eric Newsholme, (burns), Dr Philip Calder (Dentistry), Dr Peter Mansfield (Propolis Information Bureau) and Peter Berry Ottaway (Propolis Standards).

The University of Strathclyde

Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences has been a key collaborator for 15 years. Dr. Dave Watson has over the years built a team of researchers focussed on propolis publishing 30 peer review papers and has made a number of significant discoveries.

University of Bradford

BeeVital has had a highly successful collaboration with Professor Anant Paradkar (Director of Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering Science) at the University of Bradford. Through this collaboration we have undertaken several key researchers helping in the development of novel products and patents including our ground-breaking oral gel, B-Gel.

University of York

A 5-year collaboration with University of York (Department of Green Chemistry and Department of Biology) has involved work on green refining solutions for propolis and work with the Department of Biology on ways in which propolis may be able to help with Leishmania. This work has developed out of our Global BeePharma Project.

Leeds Becket University

A three-year collaboration has led to exciting research which fundamentally addresses the problem of anti-bacterial resistance. When propolis is combined with antibiotics which have essentially become ineffective as a result of resistance we found that they became active again.

Bio Renewables Development Corporation

We have worked with this organisation for around 7 years. They have been instrumental in guiding significant pieces of development work looking at the inhouse development of microbiology facilities to  green extraction.