Benefits and extraction of propolis

Benefits and extraction of propolis
Propolis is a sticky mixture of resins that bees collect from plants, particularly leaf and flower buds, and beeswax. Bees use it to line the inside of their nests, to close cracks and reduce hive entrances, and to line or repair brood combs. It’s also used in a mix with wax to seal brood cells. All these applications take advantage of the antibacterial and antifungal effects of propolis and help the hive against diseases.
The appearance of propolis changes according to the resin sources, but in general the color ranges from yellow to dark brown. At temperatures between 25ºC and 45ºC propolis is soft and very sticky. At temperatures from 15ºC and lower, it becomes hard and brittle, especially around freezing point.

Uses of propolis

Antibacterial; Propolis is best known for its use against a range of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms.
Cosmetics and dermatological applications; especially because propolis helps to regenerate and renovate tissue.
Medicine; for treatment of the cardiovascular and blood systems (anemia), infections of the respiratory apparatus, dental care, dermatology (tissue regeneration, ulcers, eczema, wound healing incl. burn wounds, mycosis, mucous membrane infections and lesions), cancer treatment, immune system support and improvement, digestive tracts (ulcers and infections), liver protection and support, and many others applications.
Traditional uses; for many years now, medicinal preparations with propolis have been described to treat mouth and throat infections, as well as caries. Propolis is also used as a swarm attractant.
Raw propolis can be chewed in chunks (note that large quantities can upset the stomach). Powders or small pieces can be taken as capsules or mixed with food and drinks.
Liquid extracts are the most common form for commercial applications and for small scale uses. Raw propolis is treated with a solvent (most commonly ethanol) and the resulting extract is used.
Additives and tablets In raw and extracted form, propolis can be used as an additive to other medicinal, dietetic and cosmetic preparations. Propolis extract paste can easily be included in tablets or sweets.

How to harvest propolis
The simplest and cheapest way to harvest propolis from a top bar or frame hive is to scrape it off the edges from under the wooden cover and the top of the frames. For a higher quality propolis, a simple mesh or net with a few sticks on top, or a special plastic ‘propolis mat’ can be placed on top of the frames, instead of its normal wooden cover. The bees will then close all the little openings with propolis. Once the mesh or mat is filled, you can harvest it. The sticky propolis often only comes off after placing it in the freezer for hours. For this reason, many beekeepers choose to only use the scraped propolis, which they save in a jar until further processing.

How to extract propolis
A simple home recipe for a propolis tincture is: put 30 grams of propolis in a sealable jar and add a 60% alcohol until you reach a total weight of 100 grams. Shake well and store in a warm dark place. Two or three times a day, shake the jar again and put it back. Continue this for 2 weeks. Afterwards you filter the liquid through a coffee filter: it is now ready for use!

Other applications Propolis is used as a swarm attractant, to preserve or waterproof wood and containers, bow string preparation and tuning drums.
Under investigation are uses as a food additive and preservative, for pre- and post-harvest treatment of different crops, and for conservation of fruits.
3. Formulation and applications for human and animal use

Raw propolis can be chewed in chunks (note that large quantities can upset the stomach). Powders or small pieces can be taken as capsules or mixed with food and drinks.
Liquid extracts are the most common form for commercial applications and for small scale uses. Raw propolis is treated with a solvent (most commonly ethanol) and the resulting extract is used.
Additives and tablets In raw and extracted form, propolis can be used as an additive to other medicinal, dietetic and cosmetic preparations. Propolis extract paste can easily be included in tablets or sweets.
Injection Successful experiments have been carried out injecting special extracts subcutaneously or intramuscularly in animals. Similar applications for humans may become available in the future. 

How to harvest propolis
The simplest and cheapest way to harvest propolis from a top bar or frame hive is to scrape it off the edges from under the wooden cover and the top of the frames. For a higher quality propolis, a simple mesh or net with a few sticks on top, or a special plastic ‘propolis mat’ can be placed on top of the frames, instead of its normal wooden cover. The bees will then close all the little openings with propolis. Once the mesh or mat is filled, you can harvest it. The sticky propolis often only comes off after placing it in the freezer for hours. For this reason, many beekeepers choose to only use the scraped propolis, which they save in a jar until further processing.
5. Extracting propolis

A simple home recipe for a propolis tincture is: put 30 grams of propolis in a sealable jar and add a 60% alcohol until you reach a total weight of 100 grams. Shake well and store in a warm dark place. Two or three times a day, shake the jar again and put it back. Continue this for 2 weeks. Afterwards you filter the liquid through a coffee filter: it is now ready for use! Please note: if the alcohol you used is suitable for human consumption, then you can also ingest this extract.  

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