Propolis is collected by the bees from the buds of trees to seal and sterilise the hive.
The buds are covered in a resinous layer that defends them against most attacks from bacteria, mycoses and viruses and can repel certain predator insects. The hive uses these complex resins as protection.
The bees collect the propolis, incorporate it into their pharyngeal secretions and use it to seal the hive at the same time as purifying it, and to cover any object or immobile intruder that might be found there. It adapts to the dimensions of the opening of the hive depending on the climate. This creates a sort of sterilisation chamber at the entrance to the hive.
There are many different kinds of propolis, depending on the geographical area and ecosystem around the hive. If there aren’t any plants nearby, bees can use more or fewer natural substitutes.
As a general rule, propolis is 50 to 55% resins and balms, 30% wax and fatty acids, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen and 5% organic and mineral substances plus some sugar, enzymes and amino acids.
It is used a lot in traditional medicine and is the subject of a lot of scientific research.
It is recognised, among other things, for its antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
*** source: Abeilles et Fleurs – Apitherapy special edition – January 2012