Thursday, August 11, 2011


Last year I read the book "Bee Propolis: Natural Healing from the Hive" and although I was eager to make a propolis tincture after reading the book my bees weren't cooperating. They weren't making much propolis. This year I bought another package of bees and they are propolis crazy. I was able to go into the hive a couple days ago and scrape a generous portion off the side of a hive body.

Propolis is messy, sticky stuff that is composed of resin and wax and bees collect the resin mainly from trees, the poplar tree being a favorite source.

Contents in propolis: resin, wax, essential oils, pollen, other organics and minerals.

Here in Minnesota propolis is a yellowish brown color but the color varies in different areas of the world. Propolis is used by the bees to seal up cracks/space in the hive. Usually they stick it anywhere the drafts come in. They also use it to wrap up intruders like mice. Propolis is antibacterial so encasing a mouse in propolis would prevent the spread of disease within the hive. It is also antimicrobial and is being researched as a treatment for HIV

But I'm interested in its ability to treat winter ailments. So on to the details on how to make a tincture. A tincture is a medicine made by dissolving an herb or a plant in alcohol, glycerin or vinegar. I use 80 proof vodka. I took the following tincture recipe from the book listed above.

The process:
When I scraped the propolis from the hive two days ago it was warm and sticky and I did it with my fingers which was a big mistake. I spent the entire day trying to get it off. Today was a much cooler day so it hardened enough that I could handle it again. I could have put it in the fridge to harden but that would have been too easy, right! :D

Step One:
Gather supplies
(vodka not pictured here)
You need a bottle with dropper. A little funnel (unless you want a big mess) a marble size bit of propolis and a small bottle of vodka (about 2 oz will be needed).

Step Two:
Put the propolis in the bottle. (Now the book recommends cutting the proplis into little pieces and then putting it into the bottle, I chose not to follow that step).

Step Three:
Fill the bottle with 80 proof alcohol (vodka). Cover. Shake. Keep bottle in a cool dark place. Shake once a day and leave for one week before using.

I've done things a bit differently than was suggested in the book. Our family will not be taking this as a preventative so we didn't want a large amount. The book suggests taking a few drops per day to boost the immune system or prevent colds and coughs (which goes along with their larger recipe). Small amounts are recommended at first due to the fact that nearly 1% of the population has been found to be allergic to propolis.

I won't list all the things that propolis is good for because I don't want someone reading this blog and then thinking that propolis can cure their ailment. I'm not a doctor. I just trust what I've learned about my bees and their gifts and wanted to share a bit of that information with my readers. Please do more research if you are interested in using propolis.

Here are some of the things propolis has been used to treat (not all of these can be treated with a tincture. Some require propolis creams, ointments, tablets, etc...):

Dental Problems
Coughs & Colds
Fungal Infections
Immune Support
Back Pain

Wondering where you can get propolis? Contact a local beekeeper or check at your local farmers market. I would avoid buying it at the store since commercial varieties come out of areas like China and reports warn of the possibility of contamination.