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Propolis is used to reduce the size of the entrance and to patch up holes or cracks. It is also used as an antiseptic, lining each cell and the interior of the hive. If another insect enters the hive, it is promptly killed and removed. If the body is too large to remove, it is covered with propolis to keep its contaminants from harming the hive.

Pliny, the Elder (79-23 BC) divided propolis into three categories: 1) commosis - referring to its use as a disinfectant; 2) pissoceros - referring to its use as a structural reinforcement; 3) propolis --referring to the reduction of the entrance to the bee's city or "polis." Pliny also describes the medicinal action of propolis on humans in the reduction of swelling, the soothing of pain, and the healing of open sores.


It is reported that the renowned Stradivarius (1644-1737 AD) handmixed his own propolis varnish to polish his handcrafted instruments. Having made only 1,116 stringed instruments, no one has ever been able to duplicate his workmanship or his recipe for this varnish.

During the Boer War (1888-1902 AD), propolis was mixed with petroleum jelly and used successfully to disinfect wounds. Before the days of antibiotics, propolis was used most often to combat infections. More recently, it has shown to be effective against bacteria resistant to penicillin, ampicillin, methicillin, streptomycin, chloramphenicaol, oxytetracycline, erythromycin, and sulfathiazole. It is also effective against E. coli and salmonella.

Used with alcohol, propolis has removed molds and fungi more efficiently and for a longer period of time than standard remedies. Propolis has antiseptic, antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Scientists state that at least part of this can be attributed to the galangin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid components. Other known components of propolis include: 55% balsam and resinous compounds, 30% beeswax, 10% ethereal and aromatic oils, 5% pollen, plus flavonoids, cinnamic acid, cinnamyl alcohol, vanillin, caffeic acid, tetochrysin, isalpinin, pinocembrin, chrysin, galangin, and ferulic acid. Propolis is said to have 500 times more flavonoids than the average orange.

Propolis can also be used to relieve cold sores, gential herpes, sore mouths and canker sores.


Updated January 1, 2017

© 2010-2017 Albert W. Needham