BeeVital are world-leaders in the development of propolis-based health supplements, supported by the latest scientific research.
The Beevital and Sweet Cecily brands are part of Nature’s Laboratory and are based in Whitby, North Yorkshire, within a couple of miles of our own shop!
So we source locally from our trusted suppliers of high quality products and cut down our carbon footprint, helping the environment and supporting local enterprises.
Thank you to James Fearnley, international expert on propolis, for the following information on this exceptional substance.
What is Propolis?
Propolis is composed principally of resin and wax. Its colour can vary enormously. In temperate climates it ranges from a light yellow or brown to a dark brown colour, often with a reddish hue. Propolis produced in tropical climates can range from the light brown-green of Brazilian propolis to the black and dark red of some Cuban varieties. Propolis tends to become darker the longer it is in the hive. Fresh propolis appears as a red tinge on the new white comb constructed by the bees. The colour of propolis also varies according to the trees and plants harvested, as well as the types of bees gathering it. Propolis collected by black bees tends to be darker in colour.
You can ﬁnd propolis most easily at two sites in the hive—at the entrance, which is constructed almost entirely from propolis, and along the sides of the frames, where it is often deposited in larger quantities in zigzag patterns. Some believe these larger deposits act as a kind of storage facility before being moved to ﬁll cracks or openings, or to be rendered down into a ﬁner, more liquid form for use elsewhere in the hive.
At moderate temperatures propolis becomes soft and malleable when handled but when frozen becomes brittle. Propolis turns to a liquid at temperatures between 70–100°C.
Early use of Propolis
The Egyptian priest-doctors first utilised propolis as a medicine, having observed it’s role in the hive and already used it successfully for mummification.
Propolis has been referred to in medical treatises from Arab, Greek and Roman times right up to the late nineteenth century – being cited as a natural aid for a variety of health problems, including respiratory and joint problems as well as infections and skin diseases.
How Do Bees Collect Propolis?
Most beekeepers and researchers now believe that the resins in propolis are collected directly by the bees from trees, shrubs and plants. However, this is not the only theory that has been put forward. In 1907 Kustenmacher,1 a German bee researcher, sug gested that propolis was largely derived from pollen granules. Kustenmacher believed that that the bees took pollen granules into a section of their intestine where the granules would swell to ﬁve times their size as they absorbed water. As the granules burst open they released a plasma which he believed the bees used to feed their young.
The pollen husks that remained were processed into a balsam, which was then excreted. This balsamic excretion was then mixed with other discarded pollen husks, waxes and detritus from the hive, forming the basis of propolis. The resulting more solid, brownish mixture could then be transported around the hive. Support for this theory has come from some experiments, which show that even where bees are deprived of resinous materials but not pollen, propolis is still produced. Further support also comes from the observation that maximum production of propolis always coincides with times of greatest pollen production.
Whilst not all of Kustenmacher’s theory has been discarded, the advent of modern biochemical analysis has very much weakened it. For example, research has shown that few, if any, of the chemicals released in the breakdown of pollen end up in propolis.
By far the most plausible and now most popular theory was put forward by Rosch and others, again in the early part of this century. Rosch observed bees removing sections of resin from trees with their mandibles, which they used to further break down the resinous lumps. The resin was then passed from the forelegs to the mid-legs of the bee, continuing to be worked on and gradually formed into a pellet as pollen is, before being deposited into the bee’s pollen baskets. The bees then ﬂew back to the hive where other bees removed the propolis and transferred it to storage sites or applied it in the hive for a variety of purposes.
A combination of the two theories was suggested by Phillip in the 1930s. He argued that there were two kinds of propolis, one produced in the way described by Kustenmacher and the second, according to Rosch, by the collection of resin from external sources. Phillip maintained that the propolis produced from pollen had the most important use in the hive, covering and sterilizing the cells into which the queen lays her eggs. Propolis collected from external sources had a secondary use, more as a building material within the hive—strengthening the comb and ﬁlling cracks and crevices. Personally, I feel that there may be something in the Phillip theory which does explain the two different uses of propolis, but I think we will have to wait for further, one imagines difﬁcult, research, for a deﬁnitive answer.
The Importance of Resins
One thing is certain—resins derived from one source or another, form a major ingredient, around 50 per cent, of propolis. From the outset, the bees are collecting a material which the plant world already relies on to maintain its health and integrity.
We know resins have an important role to play in the immune defence systems of trees and plants. We have all seen how, if a tree is damaged or cut, the resins pour out in order to seal up the ‘wound’, to stop the tree bleeding. Many of these resins themselves have a hallowed place in natural medicines. Two out of the three gifts taken by the Wise Men to the infant Jesus at his birth were tree resins—frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense and myrrh have well-documented anti-inﬂammatory properties and are used to treat a variety of health problems, including rheumatism and arthritis, as well as for bronchial and respiratory complaints. Other resins, including poplar bud resin, benzoin and pine resin, have ﬁgured in their own right as part of the natural medicine chest, for similar reasons. It is not surprising therefore that the honeybee should seek out these and other resins as a valuable base material for propolis.
Do Bees Create Something Unique in Propolis?
How much the bees work on the resins they collect from trees and plants, transforming them into propolis by processing them both outside and inside the hive, is still a matter of debate. Some researchers believe the bees take an active part in transforming resin into propolis with the help of glandular secretions produced as they collect the resin.4 These secretions contain enzymes which metabolise the resin. A Cuban study in 19905 showed that the resins collected by the bees are at least in part metabolised by them, and Greenaway6 in 1997 suggests that by adding saliva during the scraping and chewing of the resins, new elements, e.g. sugars, are produced. The same research showed that the chemical structure of the bioﬂavonoids in tree resins collected by the bees is changed by the time they appear in propolis. Others researchers argue that it is the tree or plant resins, pure and simple, which give propolis its unique protective and therapeutic properties within the beehive. My own feeling is that the extraordinary capacity of the honeybee to transform a range of simple raw materials, pollen and nectar for example, into highly complex substances like honey and royal jelly supports the idea that the bee is actively contributing to the creation of something new and unique.
The beehive is a symbol of how simpler substances derived from the lower order of the plant world are elevated and transformed by the bee into substances appropriate for a higher order of existence. In comparing the wide range of therapeutic properties which propolis provides for man with the often narrower range of therapeutic properties possessed by single plants or herbs, we are made aware again of the quantum leap in complexity and sophistication which differentiates the plant from the animal world.
At The Dispensary Shop in Whitby and our sister online shop futurehealthstore.com we stock a range of Beevital products and Sweet Cecily products including a wonderful soothing skin cream containing propolis.
The Beevital Range
Propolis Syrup with Elderberry and Honey
Propolis Honey Elderberry Syrup contains propolis and honey, products of natural origin collected by bees, together with a selection of botanical extracts, and Vitamin C.
Water Soluble Propolis Liquid
Water Soluble Propolis Liquid is a newly formulated product that can be easily administered orally in liquids such as water or juice. Water Soluble Propolis Liquid is non-alcoholic and contains 20% pure high potency propolis.
Propolis Tincture is highly bioavailable, enabling fast absorbtion by the body. Some people may not like the powerful taste of propolis and users may wish to follow its consumption with a more pleasant tasting liquid – e.g. tea or fruit juice or even take the tincture in warm juice, tea or on a small piece of bread. For internal use only.
Propolis Tablets are a convenient way to take propolis on a regular basis. These propolis tablets are classic high potency propolis in tablet form.
Propolis Capsules are a popular way to take the product, without having to taste the propolis. Contained in vegetable cellulose capsules. Suitable for vegetarians.
Propolis Cream contains high potency propolis in a parabens free cream base provides highly effective support to natural skin repair mechanisms. Suitable for both adults and children.
Propolis and Honey Throat Spray
Combines propolis with honey to provide an effective throat and mouth spray. Regular use helps keep the mouth fresh and clean. Spray applicator helps you reach the targeted area.
An all natural mouthwash that utilises the proven oral health maintaining properties of propolis. Non-alcoholic.
Propolis Toothpaste helps to clean and protect – does not contain Sodium Laurel Sulphate or Fluoride. Can be used with Homeopathic treatment. Ideal for those who either cannot have or do not like regular mint flavoured toothpastes.
Propolis Lip Balm
Propolis Lip Balm is useful in summer with its sunblock, and invaluable in the winter for nourishing and protecting the delicate skin of the lips.
Propolis and Lemongrass Soap
This natural hand made soap combines the proven cleansing properties of propolis with the wonderful aromas of lemongrass.
Worker honeybees made bee pollen from pollen gathered from flowers. It is used as the primary food source for bees in the hive. Bee Pollen contains sugars, protein, vitamins, and minerals along with some fatty acids. It is sometimes called bee bread and is stored within the cells of the beehive. The bees seal it into the cells using a drop of honey. It is harvested as a supplement for humans in a similar way to honey. Scientific research continues into its health properties.
Sweet Cecily’s Soothing Skin Cream
Ideal for skin that needs a little love and soothing. Propolis, Borage and Hemp are all known to soothe and support troublesome skin in proven scientific ways.
Thank you to James Fearnley and Dr. Philip Wander for information on Propolis and its uses.
Thank you to the honeybee for producing propolis, this wonderful substance and sharing some of it with us….