bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Propolis v SARS

Propolis — as every beeleeper knows — is bee glue. It's what bees use to seal up cracks in the hive. If there is a space in a hive that is more than a “bee space”, they will want to fill it with brace comb. If it's smaller than a bee space, they'll tend to want to propolize it. Bees collect and make propolis from tree resins and the like. Propolis is usually brown and very, very sticky — it can stain a beekeeper's fingers in seconds making him look like a life-long nicotine addict. It's the devil to remove.

But propolis is reputed to have amazing qualities. There is a long history of claims for its anti-biotic and anti-oxidant properties. At the onset of the common cold, many beekeepers will suck some propolis — making sure to keep it well away from their teeth to avoid lockjaw and severely stained teeth. (I'm amazed to see that in Central Europe and Russia, one of Colgate's successful new products is propolis toothpaste!)

During last year's panic over Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Japan, propolis and “other miracle cures” came to the fore. Read all about it in the Japan Times.


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