Let's Talk About the Buds and the Bees
Times & Transcript (Canada), 2/20/2010
…Let's take a closer look at these little jewels gracing every tree branch out there now and sleuth into the secrets they seem to hold, some of which the bees are very aware of. Man has tried to learn some of these secrets from the buds and the bees.
There are some bird and mammal species that are very aware of the nutritional punch held by these packets called buds have, while getting their natural medicinal treatment of "propolis" at the same time…
Buds are surely very exposed to the elements whether that be rain, cold, ice, snow, bacteria or fungi, etc. They have little to worry about, however, no matter how cold it gets or even if a sleet storm covers them with ice. If you take a bud and cut it in half, it will surprise you just how soft the interior is. In fact, if the bud is cut, the interior will quite readily freeze and die.
The secret is thought to be the result of a special waxy resinous coating the buds are covered with. I suspect many have heard of this resin as a medication available as "bee propolis."
The actual chemical compound of propolis is exceptionally complex and still being unfolded by laboratories around the world. Mother Nature does like to keep some of her secret alchemy under wraps, leaving us to figure it out for ourselves.
However, the bee community knows exactly how powerful this resin coating of tree buds really is. It just happens to be one of the most important natural products to the success of bee housekeeping. The buds protect themselves from environmental hazards with the propolis they excrete. The bees protect their hives from the same kind of danger by collecting tree propolis. The bees mix the tree propolis with equal amounts of their salivary secretions and use the resultant "bee propolis" to coat the internal structure of their combs rendering the interior of the beehive one of the most sterile environments found in nature…
Propolis, which means "defender of the city" in Greek, can rightly be regarded as a great protector. Bee propolis is a much sought-after item.
Beekeepers use exacting size cells in their hives to have the bees manufacture and fill them with honey. They have found by using a smaller size cell, the bees will fill the "too small" cells with bee propolis.
Bee propolis is a dark brown sticky product at room temperature but, at lower temperatures, it becomes hard and brittle. By placing the beehive propolis cell in the cold, the product becomes hard and brittle and can be readily removed. From here, bee propolis is prepared into extracts, tinctures, ointments, capsules, tablets, lozenges, etc. that are used in human medicine. Dentistry research is also being done as there is evidence it is useful to protect against dental caries and other forms of oral disease.
The medicinal uses of bee propolis could fill a whole volume with lots of research to back up some surprising claims…