Collecting and Preparing Propolis

Leave a comment

Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

Propolis, that orange sticky goo

Was the bane of our first year,

Until we found the good it can do.

Now instead of cursing, it, we cheer

And save it, to heal ourselves

And others!

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea


Tomorrow, Laurie and I will be cooking and mixing up our next batch of that miraculous propolis.  We have so many people asking us for it – we need to get moving! If you don’t know about the miracles of propolis, check out my recent post on Amazing Propolis!

To get ready for this process, we had to do several things first.  Here’s how we collected and cleaned propolis so that we can make oils and tinctures to use for health, healing and skin care.

  • We have been collecting propolis from our hives by scraping it off the frames and boxes at every hive inspection.  We just put in in a container or baggie and freeze it.  This is important. If you don’t frese it, and it sits in a warm area over the summer, it will melt into a big hard blob, full of debris inside it.  It willb e impossible to clean in this form!  Freezing it keeps all the pieces separate and once frozen, easier to break up and pick out the debris.
  • We also tried propolis traps – a plastic open mesh sheet you place over the top hive box, so the bees will fill in the cracks with propolis.  We got these late in the season last year, and didn’t really put them on at the right time, so didn’t get a lot of propolis.  The trick to getting it off the  plastic traps is to put the whole thing in a large trash bag in the freezer overnight.  When frozen, propolis is hard and brittle, not sticky.  Then, you just take it out and bend and whack it a few times!  this breaks the propolis off the plastic trap.  (Kind of like when you make hard tack candy and then whack it to break it up!)

    propolis trap with a little propolis on it

    propolis trap with a little propolis on it

  • We also save propolis from rendering down our beeswax cappings.  Whenever we harvested honey and cut the tops off the combs, we saved the beeswax cappings we cut off. (Again, in the freezer, until we were ready to deal with a large amount!)  This beeswax is melted down in a big pot of water and left to cool. The beeswax floats to the top and hardens.   Once hardened, we scrape take the block of beeswax out and scrape off the dirt that has collected at the bottom.  SOMETIMES, you will get a next layer of  propolis.  You really need to taste this and see if it really is propolis and not just dirt or dark, old wax.  (Update:  we have abandoned this method of getting more propolis, finding that we don’t really get much of a layer of propolis on the bottom!)
pile to left is debris, to right is bottom of block of beeswax

pile to left is debris, to right is bottom of block of beeswax

scrapings of propolis from bottom of beeswax

Scrapings of propolis from bottom of beeswax

bottom of the beeswax chunk - layer of propolis

bottom of the beeswax chunk – layer of propolis

  • We put the propolis in a container- see the cut down gallon jug in left picture above.  You must find old pots, pans, cans, spoons, strainers etc, to dedicate to this process, as you will NEVER get them clean again!   We then  pour boiling water over it several times, stirring and chopping it up.  This helps clean out the wood shavings, bee parts and debris stuck in the propolis. (Though we find this goo is so sticky, it doesn’t work very well! – see a later post on a better way to clean propolis!)
  • Then, we flatten the sticky goo out on a sheet of aluminum foil and freeze it.
  • Once frozen, we take it out, break it up into small pieces and spend some time picking out debris. ( The propolis oils or tincture will be filtered eventually, so getting out every single piece of debris isn’t necessary, but the cleaner it is, the more accurate the weight measurement for the mixture.)  And we figure, it’s kind of like drinking fresh apple cider – the smashed worm parts add to the flavor, right!?  So what’s a few bee parts in the propolis??

The collecting goes on all year as we inspect and clean the hives and harvest honey.  The cleaning preparation takes place over several days, as we wait for batches to cool or things to freeze.  Pretty labor intensive, but once done, we are excited to be able to use it to make oils and tinctures that will improve our health, treat and prevent illnesses and sooth skin.  Tune in next time for our process and recipes for making propolis oil and tincture.

Romans 11

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”  

35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?”  

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Honey – More Than Just Sweet!

Leave a comment

Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

Honey, sweet

But so much more

Designed by the Creator

This wonderful, miraculous food!

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea

As we have progressed in our beekeeping adventure, my quest for information has continued to consume my days.  It must be the teacher in me.  Or maybe it is genetic – my father was an “information junkie” and when CNN came to be, he was in heaven and watched it all the time!

I started collecting books about beekeeping and honey and other hive products – and reading, reading, reading.  While I have always lihoneyrevolutionked honey, I love it even more every time I read about it.  My favorite book, though quite technical and scientific is The Honey Revolution, by Ron Fessenden and Mike McInnes.   It is quite a tome and not easy to read, but great for info junkies like me.

They now have an abridged version, that only costs about $5, that is a quick read of the facts without all the scientific explanations and references.  Both are fascinating. honeyRevolution-ab

Here are some things I have learned:

Honey Facts

  • Honey really is metabolized differently than sugar or high fructose corn syrup! ( the opposite of what we are told on all those HFCS commercials on TV!)
  • Honey is metabolized more like a fruit than a sugar, in the body.
  • Honey stabilizes blood sugar.  It triggers a much lower insulin release than sugar or HFCS.
  • Honey is stored in the liver as glycogen, as provides fuel for your brain
  • Honey consumed before bedtime promotes restorative sleep.
  • Honey reduces metabolic stress by preventing or reducing the release of adrenalin and cortisol during sleep.

Now, if I could just apply all this great information and stop eating JUNK!!  I need to find some easy recipes for honey snacks!  I am an impulse eater and just look for the nearest, easiest thing to munch on!

Proverbs 24

13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

14 Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Amazing Propolis – How Can We Not Know About This??

Leave a comment

Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

At first the orange sticky goo

We had to scrape off,

Was just an annoyance

Nothing to use.

But then, to our surprise

We found this sticky stuff

Was really a treasure

Now we can’t get enough!

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea

During the second year of our beekeeping I started learning about the annoying sticky goo, propolis,  we were scaping out of the hive and throwing away.  Low and behold, it is an incredibly valuable hive product and has even more healing properties than honey!  Here’s what I found:

All About Propolis

Propolis is an amazing substance made by honeybees, that has m

inside the hive

inside the hive

any health benefits for us.

Also called bee glue, propolis is made by the bees from tree resin.  It is a stiff, sticky substance that they use in the hive to seal up cracks and also to disinfect.  Propolis has been used for centuries by man, for its medicinal and health benefits.  While not well know in this country, it is used widely throughout the world to treat illness and as a health supplement.  In Europe it is referred to as “Russian Penicillin.”

propolis on top of frames

propolis on top of frames

According to the National Institute of Health, propolis is proven to have antibiotic, antimicrobial, anitviral and antifungal properties.  It  also has antioxidant and has anti- inflammatory effects.  Past and current research is showing the effectiveness of propolis in treating a wide variety of illnesses and conditions – from mild to serious.  Research is currently being done on the use of propolis to treat cancer, mico-bacterial lung infections including TB, radiation treatment burns, GI issues, herpes,  wound treatment and its effect on boosting the immune system.

raw propolis shavings

raw propolis shavings

Propolis can be used raw, powdered, or in tinctures and infusions and is a valuable product to support healthy living.  Our family and friends are using propolis oils and alcohol tinctures with success (and without trips to the doctor!)  to assist in  treatment of  the following conditions:

Orally for:

  • colds, viruses

  • bronchitis, pneumonia

  • IBS

  • sore throats

  • a preventative supplement – keeping my asthmatic husband well over the winter months – no brochitis or pneumonia!

Internally for:

  • sinus congestion and infection – as nose drops

  • canker and mouth sores – as mouth rinse

  • sore throats – as a mouth rinse or spray

  • gum irritations and infections – as mouth rinse

  • toothache/infection – as rinse or gauze poultice

  • ear infections – oil drops in ear

Externally for:

  • cuts

  • burns

  • bites

  • rashes

  • pain and inflammation

  • sore muscles

  • nail fungus

  • yeast infections

Here’s some great resources about propolis:

propolis roayljellyetcfUser’s Guide to Propolis, Royal Jelly, Honey, and Bee Pollen: Learn How to Use Bee Foods to Enhance Your Health and Immunity  by C. Leigh Broadhurst, Jack Challem (Editor)

propolis power

                                    Propolis Power Plus by Carlson Wade, Don R. Bensen (Editor)

Job 5

8“But if I were you, I would appeal to God;  I would lay my cause before him.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.
10 He provides rain for the earth;  he sends water on the countryside.
11 The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12 He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.
13 He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away.
14 Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night.
15 He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
16 So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.

17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.[a]

18 For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.

Bee Bread

Leave a comment

Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

Put learning into practice

The wise Book says

So I’m making a concoction

Hope to help a loved one out.

Clover, Bee and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea.

At the Beekeepers conference, I learned about bee bread.  It’s made in the hive by the bees, of course. But you can also make it outside the hive, with human hands. Pollen is a high source of protein – higher than beef!  And like the other hive products, it has many other benefits.  It is said to help with many illnesses, as well as being great for an energy boost.  Athletes use it to prep for a race.  With that information under my belt, I decided to  buy some pollen at the vendor’s fair, bring it home, and make some!  (And we definitely have to start collecting pollen ourselves from our hives! )

My motivation, besides and energy booster for Steve and I, is our daughter-in-law, who suffers from gastroperisis – a sluggish emptying of the stomach which causes pain and digestion problems.  And then there’s our son, who has chronic acid, reflux, and irritated esophagus even at his young age. Bee bread is pollen mixed into honey and then left to sit for 2 weeks.  The pollen has a very hard coat and one cannot get the full nutritional and healing benefits from it, unless the coat is broken down.  Putting it in the honey makes that happen, and that is just what the bees do.

So, yesterday, I got out some of our honey and the pollen we had bought.  I mixed honey and  pollen in a 2:1 ratio.  Later, I read a different recipe of 3:1, so I may add more honey to make the pollen go further.  After mixing, I put it into wide-mouthed containers and set it back in our “Bee Room” office/den.  There it will sit for a few weeks to meld.

I’m going to encourage Ashley and Nate to take a spoonful each morning and evening for a month and see if it helps their digestive problems.  If it works as well as the propolis we’ve used for every ailment under the sun, it should help!

Proverbs 16

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,  and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,  and gracious words promote instruction.

22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,  but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,  and their lips promote instruction.

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.