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Propolis is a valuable beehive product from your beekeeping operation. Collect high quality and clean propolis using the best propolis traps (commercial and homemade). In this article, we explain propolis in the context of beekeeping and also detail propolis traps that give you great results collecting propolis. Typical propolis traps feature thin slits that trigger honeybees to seal them with propolis. Materials used to make the traps need to be durable and flexible for easy harvesting of the propolis. Plastic is a great material for propolis traps. You can also use metallic propolis traps, especially when you have to make one for your beekeeping operation.
What is the Composition of Propolis?
There are many different components that bees use to make propolis. More than 240 compounds have been found in propolis, depending on the location of the honeybee colony that made the propolis. Plant resins and saps are a major component in all propolis preparations. The resins and saps of deciduous trees are favored by bees for the making of propolis.
Foraging worker bees collect the resins on their hind legs and enlist the help of other bees in the beehive to remove the resins from their legs. In the beehive, honeybees combine the sticky resins and saps they collect with waxes and fatty acids. Essential oils too are often present in propolis.
Other components found in propolis samples after analysis include flavonoids among others in small quantities.
Uses of Propolis in the Beehive
Honeybees make propolis for use in sealing cracks and crevices in the beehive. They also use it to smooth out rough surfaces in the beehives as well as to reduce the size of beehive entrances to sizes that the honeybee colony can guard effectively. Some people refer to it as ‘bee glue’. Propolis is red or brownish in color. Warm propolis is sticky, whereas cold propolis is hard and brittle. You will usually encounter the hard and brittle propolis in beehives. It may flake off surfaces in chunks of various sizes or in nearly powder form.
In addition to sealing and closing off spaces in the beehive, propolis contributes to the overall health of honeybees. This is through its antimicrobial properties. Honeybees have little natural immunity in comparison to other insects and animals. By killing microbes and preventing their growth too, propolis helps keep honeybees safe from the microbes that would harm them.
Propolis Production and Collection
Factors that trigger production and use of propolis in a beehive include disease infections, drafts of light and wind entering the beehive, rough surfaces present in the hive, cracks and crevices smaller than 5/16th of an inch and too wide beehive entrances.
Commercial propolis traps are made using thin plastic sheets that have narrow slits in them. The beekeeper places the propolis trap between the uppermost honey super box and the top cover of the beehive. It replaces the inner cover of the beehive. Leaving the outer cover of the beehive slightly ajar to allow light and air into the beehive triggers the bees in the beehive to seal the propolis trap with propolis. It gives you a crop of propolis faster than when you leave the outer cover of the beehive flat over the top of the beehive.
How to Use Propolis Traps
Remove the plugged propolis trap from the beehive and replace it with a fresh one if you want to. Handle it carefully to avoid breaking off the propolis from the trap. Immediately placing the trap in a clean food-safe sealable bag or container helps you catch any propolis that flakes off of the trap during subsequent handling and transportation. Freeze the propolis trap in its bag for a few hours.
When the propolis is well frozen, get the trap from the freezer and lightly tap it against a clean and smooth surface that will not damage the propolis trap. Increase the force you apply in tapping the propolis trap against a hard surface until all or most of the propolis it has comes off the trap. You may also contort the propolis trap back and forth to cause the cold and brittle propolis to break up and detach from the trap. The propolis coming off the trap is caught in the clean bag into which you placed your propolis trap.
How to Clean Propolis
Propolis that you collect or harvest from other surfaces by scraping it from the surfaces of beehives, hive components, tools and equipment often has contaminants in it. Separating the contaminants from the propolis takes time and requires special materials and processes. Common contaminants in such propolis are wax, dead bees and bits of wood.
Using Water to Clean Propolis
You can remove them from the propolis by soaking the propolis in water. The propolis sinks to the bottom of the water container while contaminants tend to remain afloat on the surface of water.
Using Heat and Water to Clean Propolis
You may also heat the propolis in water to about 2000F in a safe and suitable container with frequent stirring. The propolis sinks to the bottom of the container, warms up, releases particulate contaminants and sticks to the bottom of the container. Contaminants released from the propolis usually float up to the surface of water. Stir the mix of propolis and water during heating to preserve the components of the propolis as much as you can.
Use indirect heating on the container of propolis and water. After about an hour of heating, allow the water to get still and remove the floating items from the water’s surface. Upon cooling, propolis stuck to the bottom of the container stays in the container and you can pour off the water.
Further cooling and freezing allows for easy breaking of the propolis to get it from the container you used and into suitable storage containers.
Processing, Packaging and Presentations of Propolis
Clean propolis does not need processing. You can use propolis by placing it in your mouth and sucking on it. Put the propolis chunk between your gum and cheek. If the propolis comes into contact with your teeth, it may stick onto the teeth. This method works for the use of propolis to address sore throat, dental and gum issues. Other preparations and presentations of propolis for human uses are tablet form, powdered capsule, extracts or tinctures, enriched oil extract and aqueous or hydrolyzed propolis. You can safely make some of the presentations of propolis in your home, but making others carries too much risk of harm.
Blythewood Bee Company Propolis Trap 10 Frame
This is a plastic propolis trap for use with 10-frame Langstroth beehives. Blythewood Bee Company propolis trap 10-frame is made by a reputable company in the production of supplies for beekeeping. It is well constructed from a single sheet of plastic. This leaves the propolis trap with very few or no weak points in its body. It is, therefore, flexible, durable and will give you a lot of value and years of service if you handle it properly when using it. Making the trap using plastic allows for safe freeing of the pollen trap and no damage to the trap in the process of harvesting the collected propolis.
This propolis trap features many thin grooves in sections over the entire body of the trap. Honeybees seal the grooves with propolis which you later harvest by freezing and then later breaking the propolis off the trap. This pollen trap is for use at the top of your beehive stack as a replacement for your regular inner cover. It measures 20 x 16 ¼ x 1/10 inches, which is equivalent to 50.80 x 41.28 x 254 centimeters.
Aeloa Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap
Aeloa Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap is a light trap that is commercially made and sold. It is fashioned out of plastic and weighs 9.6 ounces only. This trap is sturdy and durable because it is made using high quality plastic that is food-safe too. The trap replaces your Langstroth beehive’s inner cover when you are using it to collect propolis in the beehive. Its design makes it effective and efficient at collecting propolis. The trap measures approximately 19.88 x 16.14 inches (50.5 x 41 centimeters). It is suitable for use in 10-frame beehives. You may reduce its size to fit 8-frame Langstroth beehives using strong scissors or razor cutter.
This propolis trap comes in brand new state upon purchase. It ensures that the trap does not bring diseases, pests or parasites into your beehive. Bees accept the trap and work comfortably with it. The trap does not harm honeybees. It is useful beekeeping equipment in your endeavors to collect propolis in your beekeeping operation. Both beginner and experienced beekeepers can easily use Aeloa Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap to trap, collect and harvest propolis.
Happyyami 2PCS Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap
Happyyami 2PCS Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap is a multifunctional trap since it doubles as a beehive inner cover. It is made using high-quality plastic material. Construction of the trap also shows attention to proper design for best functioning. Additionally, the propolis trap is sturdy and durable. No parts of the propolis trap are affected by rotting which happens with propolis traps that have wooden components or parts in them. This propolis trap has rounded edges that ensure that honeybees that come into contact with the trap do not hurt any part of their bodies.
This propolis trap features some ventilation channels built into its plastic body. Channels for ventilation allow for the exchange of air between the environment outside the beehive and the cavity enclosed by the beehive. Honeybees initiate air exchange between the two environments to prevent moisture building up in the beehive. Ventilation channels in Happyyami 2PCS Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap, therefore, enable humidity control in the beehive where you are using it. It also facilitates fast and effective cooling of the beehive by bees in hot weather.
Kathlen Beekeeping Frame Tool – Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap
Kathlen Beekeeping Frame Tool – Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap is a durable and sturdy propolis trap made using plastic material. The trap is safe for use with honeybees and food for human consumption. It is designed to be eco-friendly and non-toxic while being safe beekeeping equipment to use in the beehive. This propolis collection trap comes in brand new state upon purchase. You use the individual trap as the first user and are thus sure that the trap is not a vector for diseases, pests and parasites. The pollen trap measures approximately 19.88 x 16.14 inches (50.5 x 41 centimeters).
This plastic propolis trap is effective in its job and gives you a lot of propolis per harvest. Use it in replacement of your Langstroth beehive’s inner cover over the uppermost honey super box of the beehive stack. The propolis that you collect using this trap is clean. It saves you the work of cleaning propolis after collection. Kathlen Beekeeping Frame Tool – Plastic Beehive Propolis Trap also ensures hygienic propolis collection while making the process easy for both you and the honeybees.
Homemade Propolis Traps
Propolis traps for collecting propolis from beehives can be bought from commercial sellers or made at home. Homemade propolis traps work with the same effectiveness and efficiency as commercial traps. You can fashion one using wood for the frame of the propolis trap and some material in the middle of the trap. The material you use in the middle of the trap should have small openings or slits that honeybees will want to seal with propolis. It should also be food-safe, durable and easy to work with. Beekeepers making pollen traps for their beehives use a piece of nylon window screen or metal screen wire inside the wooden frame of the traps they make. Construct the homemade propolis trap using good quality materials so that it lasts for long.
The many properties of propolis and benefits of consuming it have made beehive propolis to rise in demand. Propolis is primarily consumed for its medicinal properties. For use by people, the propolis needs to be clean and of high quality. Propolis traps make collecting propolis easy and efficient. They also help you to collect clean propolis. Scraping pollen from beehive surfaces, tools and equipment is not reliable for collecting clean pollen. Both beginner and experienced beekeepers can use propolis traps in their apiaries. The best propolis traps, commercial and handmade, add a lot of value to your beekeeping operation. Use them to reap the benefits that come with having propolis as one of the products you sell from your beekeeping.