Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Propolis Antibiotic Helps Fish Farming Industry

Birds and Bees Still Have Something to Teach Mankind
By Kelvin Kemm, Engineering News (South Africa), 4/24/2009

…In South Africa, Paul Collet and Ernst Thompson have found out some interesting information about honey bee construction techniques. It has been known that bees use a black sticky stuff to build around the entrance to their hives. They also use the same stuff to patch holes in the hive’s outer walls.

This black goo is called ‘propolis’ – from the Greek ‘pro’, meaning ‘in front of’, and ‘polis’ meaning ‘city.’

The bees use it to make security gates. It turns out that this stuff has antibiotic properties. The bees find the building material by harvesting small scabs from plants. When a nibbling insect damages a plant, or when the plant gets struck by something, it forms a protective scab filled with chemicals which kill or disable organisms that could enter the plant and damage it, such as bacteria, yeasts and viruses.

So the plant produces its own antibio- tics. The bees collect these scabs, and then work them into the black tarlike stuff that they then use to build ‘security gates’ around their hive entrance. So they have an anti- biotic gate, so to speak.

Well, Collet and Thompson have been smart, and they have taken this black propolis and turned it into an antibiotic product for the fish farming industry.

While fish farming can be a lucrative business, any disease in the breeding tanks can wipe out many fish chop-chop. A number of domestic and foreign regulations concerning the use of artificial antibiotics have also placed pressure on the aquaculture folks to find alternatives.

This is where the propolis product comes in. These guys have been producing the pharmaceutical under the name of Speelmanskop Apiary Products, and the product has performed well on various fish pathogens – so much so that they are achieving better results than with the traditional aquaculture antimicrobials.

Propolis is already being found in such diverse products as toothpaste, lip balm and chewing gum. So those birds and bees still have something to teach mankind. We are not finished with them yet.

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