What is Propolis Anyway?

What is Propolis Anyway?

Propolis, better known as “bee glue” by beekeepers, is a sticky, brown mixture that bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with resins that have antimicrobial properties, harvested from various botanical sources. Along with reinforcing the infrastructure of the hive, propolis is used by the bees to:

  • Reduce vibration
  • Make the hive more defensible by sealing alternative entrances
  • Prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive
  • Inhibit fungal and bacterial growth
  • Stop putrefaction within the hive. Bees usually carry waste out of and away from the hive. If a small rodent finds its way into the hive and dies the bees may not be able to carry it out through the hive entrance. So, the bees will seal the body in propolis, essentially mummifying it so that it is odorless and harmless.

Bees individually do not possess strong immune systems. And because members of a beehive are confined and in close contact with one another, illness in one bee can swiftly infect the entire bee population. To protect themselves, the bees act together as a superorganism - they manufacture propolis for the hive to prevent microbial infection or attack on their honey stores, combs, and larvae - like our immune system protects our entire body.

The composition of propolis can differ from hive to hive, region to region, and season to season. Normally, it is dark brown in color, but bees are opportunists, gathering what they need from wherever it is available, so propolis can also be green, red, black, or white, depending on the resin found in the area. Propolis is often made up of up to 50 different components, including resin and vegetable balsams, essential oils, pollen, and wax.  

Our Killer Bees Honey bar soap, body wash, liquid hand soap, and hand & cuticle salve, all contain propolis extract for its antimicrobial and mild antiseptic properties.