Tag Archives: bee facts

Propolis

Bees collect the sticky resinous sap from the bark of conifers and other types of trees. They take this back to the hive and mix it with wax and their saliva to create propolis. Propolis is chemically very complex and contains more than 150 compounds, including terpenes, caffeic, and phenolic acids. It also has a high flavonoid content.

Propolis is generally brown in color, but can ranges from red to yellow depending on the particular sources of resin. In hot weather, propolis is soft and pliable, but when cold is hard and brittle.

Bee keepers harvest propolis in a number of ways.  During the extraction of honey, the frames of honey must be separated since they are usually glued together with propolis. After honey extraction the propolis is scraped off the frames  and ground to a powder.

Another method is the use of flexible plastic traps. These are basically special plates with small holes placed on the top of a hive below the cover lid.  Bees try to fill the holes and thus fill the trap with propolis.  The average production of propolis in a hive is 300 gms per year, although it can be considerably higher depending on the  climate, the forest resources and  the type of trapping mechanism used.

photo credit beepothecary.wordpress.com

Medical research has shown  that propolis is a powerful, natural antibiotic, and has notable antioxidant and anti-microbial properties. Hippocrates prescribed it for the treatment of sores and ulcers and Romans used it in poultices in the first century A.D. The Hebrew word for propolis is Tzori and the therapeutic properties of tzori are mentioned throughout the Old Testament.

Propolis is a strong allergen and can cause a rash in susceptible people.

One might question why bees would have need of a substance with broad antibacterial and antiviral properties. Since bees are very susceptible to bacterial and viral infections that can destroy their hives propolis (Pro – before, Polis – City = defense of the City) is used to disinfect the beehive.  This is sometimes done by using propolis as a thin coating on the inside walls of the hive.  Larger amounts are used to block cracks in the hive and reduce the entrance. Of more importance is the use of small amounts of propolis mixed with beeswax to seal brood cells. This  takes advantage of the antibacterial and antifungal effects of propolis in protecting the colony against diseases.

Propolis is a natural antiseptic which has been used by humans since the times of ancient Egypt.  It has historically been used as an anti-viral treatment against colds and sore throats; an anti-inflammatory treatment that accelerates healing in minor burns, bruises and cuts; and to ease pain and relieve symptoms of sinusitis and tonsillitis.

Other medicinal uses of propolis include treatment of the cardiovascular and blood systems; ear infections; and gastro-intestinal problems.

Raw propolis can be used in chunks, fine powder, paste, liquid extracts, tablets or as an additive to other medicinal preparations.

The most common application technique is a tincture either in alcohol or water in varying percentages from 10 % to 35 % propolis.  Usage is  2 to 10 drops in a small glass of water once or twice daily.

Time to Plan Your Bee Garden!

Spring is peeking around the corner, with the warm weather and sunshine everyone is probably planning their gardens! When planning remember our friends the bees! Attracting bees will not only help our bee population but also make your garden flourish! Here is a collection of ideas and plants to help grow a bee garden even in the smallest place.

David Suzuki suggests the following plants:

Early Mid-season Late
Blueberry Blackberry Aster (perennial)
Cotoneaster Cat mint Beggar’s tricks
Crabapple Catnip Borage
Cranberry Chives Coneflower
Crocus Dahlia Cornflower
Foxglove Hyssop Cosmos
Heliotrope Lavender Goldenrod
Hazelnut Raspberry Pumpkin
Heather Sunflower Sedum
Primrose Yarrow Squash
Willow

He also suggests making a bee bath out of a shallow dish with rocks and water for the bees to drink.

The honeybee conservancy suggests the following tips:

  • Replace some of your lawn with flowering plants
  • Select single flower plans (daisy, marigold) and not heavily hybridized varieties as they produce more nectar
  • Use only natural herbicides and pesticides
  • no garden? even a small rooftop or window garden is helpful to the bees!

Many retailers offer wildflower or bee mixes to augment your garden, not only are they beautiful but they will attract bee friends

Resources and information from:

Globe and Mail http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/what-you-can-do-in-your-garden-and-yard-to-help-bees-and-butterflies/article30101793/

David Suzuki – What you can do http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/create-a-bee-friendly-garden/

Bees matter – http://Beesmatter.ca

 Bring Back the Bees (from Honey Nut Cheerios) https://bringbackthebees.ca/

The honeybee conservancy http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/act-today/plant-a-bee-garden/

Seed retailers online:

West Coast Seeds – Plant flower seeds for bees https://www.westcoastseeds.com/garden-resources/articles-instructions/plant-flower-seeds-for-bees/

Verseys Seeds Bee feed mix Wildflowers http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/store/flowerseed/wildflowersap/beefeedmix

All about Bee Pollen

What is Bee Pollen and what is it is good for? That is the most common question we get at shows.

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Bee pollen is pellets containing over 2 million grains of pollen collected by bees from flowers. They have been compressed together with a little honey. The bee flies flower to flower carefully collecting the pollen and putting it in the pollen baskets on her legs. While flying between flowers she can clean the pollen that has stuck her fuzzy body and legs to put in the baskets as well. This pollen on the bee’s body is what is cross pollinating over 80% of the world’s green plants. One teaspoon of pollen is the work of one bee working 8 hours a day for a month.

Bee pollen is like the bread of the bee colony. It is used to feed the young bees. Bee pollen cannot be synthesized, bees cannot survive on bee pollen made in laboratories .

Bee pollen is around 40% protein, it contains all the essential vitamins and minerals as well as fatty acids, amino acids and carbohydrates. It can be considered a complete nutrient. Bee pollen can help boost energy, calm allergies, aid digestion and help nutritional deficiencies.

Sprinkle it on cereal, or granola or blend it up in your smoothie.

Morning Buzz Smoothie

½-1t Heavenly Honey Bee Pollen
1/2 banana
½ cup milk, milk substitute, juice, water or combination
1t Heavenly Honey Creamed Honey with Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly (or to taste)
Handful of mixed frozen fruit (try mango, peach & strawberry)
Splash of pure vanilla extract

Optional:
½ cup yogurt
1T chia seed
1T flax seed

Blend all ingredients in a blender or with a stick blender until smooth. Enjoy!

All of Heavenly Honey’s honey products contain bee pollen, try creamed honey with bee pollen or creamed honey with bee pollen and royal jelly (all about royal jelly is a future post!) which have 4%/2% by weight pollen added for an extra pollen kick or use our bee pollen to supplement your everyday routine.