Propolis is a resinous substance that honey bees collect from the buds and wounds of various trees such as birch, spruce, poplar, horse chestnut, etc. It is composed of approximately 60% natural resin and pollen balm, and it is used to seal the hive. After the bees process the resin with wax, pollen and essential oils from flower buds, it becomes sticky at the temperatures that are prevalent in the hive.
Given that the insects live together in close proximity in the confined space of the hive, at about 35° C, the resin is used primarily to protect the hive by killing any bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that may be introduced into the hive. The bees use the resin to coat the interior surfaces of the hive as well as the insides of the brood’s honeycomb cells with a very thin propolis film. Mankind has known about the unique benefits of propolis for thousands of years. Indeed, in Egypt as well as in ancient Greece and Rome, propolis was used for healing wounds. The Indians used propolis powder to preserve dried meat and fish, berries and roots for longer periods of time. In Japan, propolis is used to preserve frozen fish.