June 23, 2008

Propolis

It started off as a tiny bit of wax in the middle of the entrance. The bees were walking over and around it, so we decided to leave it there. It's their job to clean house if they don't like something in the hive. But after just a few days, the tiny bump became a stalagmite and is now a column of propolis connecting the top of the entrance to the floor of the hive. The bees are propolising the entrance shut.



It's been interesting to watch, since they need to do that in the Fall to prepare for Winter. I'd been wondering how long it would take them.



Propolis has amazing protective properties. The bees use it to seal up small cracks (it's watertight) and to protect the hive from disease (it's an antiseptic). Gaps larger than 6.35 millimeters (0.3 in.) are usually filled with beeswax.

Bees for Development – an organization out of the UK, where beekeeping is huge – is involved with apiculture in developing countries. Their goal is to assist people living in poor and remote areas of the world, and to raise awareness about the value of beekeeping for poverty alleviation. They offer this article on propolis and how to use it.

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