How bee propolis protects the health of the hive

Propolis in the hive
Propolis is an essential part of the honeybee hive.

How honeybees create and use bee propolis to support their hives.

If you think honey is sticky, just wait until you discover propolis. This fascinating substance, often referred to as ‘bee glue’, is used by bees to protect the health of the hive. Propolis contains over 300 natural bioactive compounds, flavonoids and phenolics (antioxidants) that help reduce free radicals formed in the body and support general health and wellbeing, naturally.

Honeybees use bee propolis to plug gaps in the hive, regulate its temperature, reduce vibrations - even to embalm any foolish rodent or insect that tries to enter the hive. No wonder it’s such an incredible substance. Keep reading to discover exactly what bee propolis does and how you can use it (in a beautifully non sticky way!) to help you Be Life Ready.

One of nature’s most powerful protectors

Making propolis is just one of over 300 jobs that worker honeybees do – and one of the most important.

In New Zealand, honeybees make propolis from the natural sap and resins from trees and plants. These resins are part of the tree’s defence system and are secreted by the tree when it is growing or repairing an injury.

This resin is particularly high natural bioactive compounds, flavonoids and phenolics (antioxidants). Honeybees gather the flavonoid-rich resin, and mix in beeswax and enzymes, to create propolis. Then they use the propolis to seal and support their hive.
Bee propolis protecting the hive
Bee propolis is a resin material produced by honeybees to seal and protect the cells of the hive.

Protection is a team effort

Worker bees collect propolis during warm days when the resin they need is soft and malleable. Using their sharp mandibles, worker honeybees tear off a tiny piece of resin from the tree and transfer it to their pollen baskets.

The worker bee carries the resin back to the hive, where other worker bees will help extract it from her pollen basket. Together they then mix the resin with their saliva, enzymes and beeswax to make propolis.

What do honeybees use bee propolis for?

You’ll amazed at the many ways bees use propolis to help their hive.

1. To protect the colony against outside infection and illness
Beehives contains thousands of honeybees – all buzzing around and so as you can imagine, keeping their environment clean and pure is critical to the health and strength of the colony.

For that reason, honeybees use bee propolis to cover and line surfaces inside the hive, including the comb and the inner walls of the hive. Bees will also lay down a ‘door mat’ at the hive entrance that every bee must walk over as they enter – to help prevent unwanted foreign material from entering the hive.

2. To fix holes and gaps in the hive
it’s the perfect sticky ‘filler’ to plug gaps in the walls of the hive to ensure the structure stays clean and fully-sealed, helping to ensure the colony remains supported.

3. To thermo-regulate the colony
It’s important for bees to maintain a constant temperature in their hive because the development and survival of their colony depends on it. The optimal temperature for a beehive is around 35 degrees Celsius (about 95 degrees Fahrenheit).

At this temperature, the bees are able to properly care for and feed their young, and the hive is able to function efficiently. By using bee propolis to plug any gaps in the hive’s wall, bees are able to maintain the ideal hive temperature – keeping them warm, dry and healthy.

4. To reduce vibrations for the health of the hive
As propolis is such a good adhesive (remember that super-stickiness we mentioned?), it can be used to secure the comb to the hive walls, which helps to reduce vibrations caused by the movement of the thousands of bees inside each hive. Propolis is also flexible and can absorb shock, which helps to reduce the transmission of vibrations through the hive.
5. To eliminate intruders
If a hive is invaded by a rodent or insect, our clever bees can work together to kill it, but they may not be able to move it. A decaying predator is not good for the health of the hive, so bees will ‘mummify’ it by coating the carcass with propolis. Another clever use of this amazing, natural ‘bee glue’!

Be Life Ready with Comvita Bee Propolis
Just as bees have many uses for their incredible propolis, we too can harness the power of the hive and put it to work to help ‘defend’ us.

Comvita’s Bee Propolis contains over 300 bioactive compounds, flavonoids and phenolics that reduce free radicals formed in the body and support general health and wellbeing, naturally.

Our Comvita Bee Propolis is made in nature, by honeybees, in beehives. We source raw propolis, gently wash away the beeswax, debris and other impurities leaving behind pure, propolis concentrated extract. This concentrate is then lovingly bottled into different formats for your convenience.

In conjunction with the Cawthron Institute (a leading New Zealand Government Research Crown Institute), Comvita has developed a unique advanced analytical technology that measures the concentration of pure flavonoids per serve of bee propolis. We call this measure PFL™ which stands for Propolis Flavonoid Level. Through our PFL™ technology, we guarantee you receive the exact amount of flavonoids per serve.
Fun fact: did you know that a freshly opened jar of Bee Propolis smells just like the inside of a beehive? It’s true. While we remove any impurities and beeswax, our bee propolis is as pure and close to nature as possible. It smells like the real thing, because it is the real thing!

Comvita – working in harmony with nature since 1974

Founded nearly 50 years ago by beekeepers Claude Stratford and Alan Bougen, Comvita’s purpose has always endured - to work in harmony with bees and nature in New Zealand to heal and protect the world.

With a deep respect for nature, and a belief that food is the best medicine, Comvita is committed to projects that support social and environmental impact globally as we strive to leave the world in a better place including:

• Dedicated Bee Rescue and Bee welfare programs that, save over 10 million bees around the world every year
• Each year, we donate 1% of our profits to charities and partners
• We plant a native tree for every jar of our Mānuka honey sold, with over 6 million trees already planted
• We’re committed to leading the way in creating a circular and carbon neutral honey business.

We believe in and stand for a world where bees, nature and people can thrive in harmony meaning a better world for future generations.

Our Harmony Plan


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