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  • Norbert Klose

Propolis the ultimate gap filler and wall liner in bee colonies

Propolis is a substance which bees use to fill holes-, cover unwanted objects-, cover anything which is difficult to remove or to reach. It's the stuff that keeps the internal space within the colony clean and super hygienic. No bacteria or fungi will grow on Propolis! But spores from AFB bacteria (https://afb.org.nz/what-is-afb/) and spores from other bacteria may survive in a dormant state on Propolis.

See how the bees are trying to fill the mesh with propolis to make it more hygienic. Because of so many anecdotal references, there have been extraordinary claims about what Propolis can be used for. Here a detailed writeup through history what Propolis was used for https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3655583/ The conclusion says: "Propolis is a natural product that has been known and used by man for centuries. It is mainly because men/women learned relatively early to exploit the products of the domesticated honeybee. Recorded use of propolis dates back to c. 300 BC and continues today in the form of home remedies, toothpaste, creams, ointments, drops, and dietary supplements. Its numerous properties have been appreciated for a very long time. However, despite numerous studies conducted all over the world so far, the constitution of propolis remains largely unknown. It requires further research that may lead to new discoveries of its composition and possible applications." The bullet point is: There have been no decent clinical studies performed so far unless I am unaware of it. And it's very hard to actually do clinical studies on Propolis because the chemical makeup in propolis varies from colony to colony, from area to area and country to country........... it's so incredibly difficult to get the chemical makeup homogenous. And also there are many people having allergic reactions towards propolis. A beekeeping friend of mine did develop an allergy towards propolis and had to give up his whole beekeeping career. And I have heard of quite a few cases like that. Contact allergies towards propolis are quite common. Patch tests on skin show about 1% to 6% of people are allergic to Propolis. Here a link to more detail: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/contact-allergy-to-propolis/ I have been exposed to propolis for over 40 years and I found it helpful to use an alcohol propolis tincture on wounds and that same tincture diluted with water to gargle against sore throat. I have also met lots of people who use propolis tincture for the same purpose. But all of this is anecdotal. I would always recommend being careful when you want to use Propolis products on or in your body. Try a little first and observe for some time. There is a whole industry trying to make money on propolis products. When there is an opportunity to make some money with a product, often the producer does not care if the product works or not. And they also don't care if there is science-based evidence or not. Anecdotal evidence will just do fine as long as the product sells..........so be careful! My personal opinion is, from what I have been reading and from all the research I have done over the years, there are antibacterial and antifungal properties in propolis for sure. And our bees make use of these properties in using propolis for their home to keep it hygienic. But what is good for bees is not necessarily good for us. So it will be good to remain critical and see if some good peer-reviewed clinical studies come up to reveal some potentials about Propolis. I certainly will keep my eyes open. So before you make a decision to use any products with Propolis, don't trust your friend, better do your homework for a couple of hours and decide then. The next topic will be about Pollen............

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