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What is it ?
Propolis, as you can imagine, comes ... from the hive. But its origin is much more complex than that, because this material is not directly produced by the Bee.
Propolis is a resinous substance collected by a small number of bees: field bees (oldest and most experienced bees of the hive). They perform only the activity of unusual and tedious harvesting. Their mission is confined to collect the resin located at the apical buds of various plant species (such as poplar, birch, alder, elm, beech and some conifers.
The field bee, with its mandibles, will take and shape resins before putting them on trays of its hind legs. The bee will take several hours to develop his ball of propolis and will return to the hive, to refuel. At the end of harvest, it goes and comes to stay where propolis should be used.
Therefore, the workers will take the necessary quantities of propolis by stretching wire until it breaks. Because of the viscosity and tackiness of propolis, it is rare that it is used in this condition. Thus, to avoid sinking, which would be fatal to other bees of the colony, the workers will incorporate the wax by pharyngeal pummelling to give malleable texture, but enough rigid for the product: the final result of this work is Propolis!
Become malleable, Propolis is used according to the needs of the Hive:
- Cement to glue the different parts of the hive, to block cracks in wood, to reduce the hive entrance to better control the passage of intruders such as mice.
- Antiseptic treatment of waxy cells before the laying of the queen who performs in a clean environment.
- Biological fight, by covering the inside of their habitat with a thin film of this resin, the bees are free from diseases. Thanks to its adapted and complex composition, it protects the colony against many microbial infections, viral and fungal that threatens constantly. With this glue, for example, it mummified body of hungry honey predators ( Death's-head Hawkmoth, small rodents...) that enter the hive and are too heavy to be evacuated once killed. Once covered with the resin, the biological body of the predator is no longer rotting and do not gangrene the colony!
First, the beekeeper must harvest it: for this he can either use specific grids that bees coat with Propolis or scrape his hives regularly to recover it.
In the end, it is a complex substance containing many impurities, which is recovered from the hive. Raw propolis contains wood scrap, dead bees, plant residues, and sometimes studs ..., it is also absolutely necessary to purify it. After several complex steps, there remains only the active ingredient. This material will be unchanged used or processed by laboratories to make extracts and finished products.