Propolis, or bee glue, is resin that bees collect from the leaf buds and bark of some trees. Though relatively unfamiliar in the United States in all but a handful of co-op grocery stores, apothecaries, and health-food shops, it has been used in folk medicine since antiquity. Propolis has long been credited with healing powers by people throughout Eastern Europe and parts of South America, where it is widely used for a host of minor health and skin ailments. In those areas, propolis products are as commonly available as are echinacea and chamomile in the United States.
“There are major obstacles,” said Peterson. “Propolis is very potent in regard to its anti-HIV activity, but would I recommend that people take it for HIV? No. Because you have to see that it works in humans. You have to see whether, when taken orally, it’s absorbed and works against the virus in a live person. And in order to do that, you have to address safety, and this batch-to-batch issue. With the FDA, batch variability is not going to be tolerated. Think of the challenge with propolis, when the bees collect it from all these different trees. There are at least three hundred compounds in propolis, and maybe as many as a thousand. So we haven’t really pursued it, because we’re not set up to identify the needle in the haystack.”or this:
Meanwhile, as the gears of medical research grind laboriously onward, Spivak is turning her attention back to the source—the bees. She’s focusing on the function of propolis in the colony. What exactly is this mysterious substance, anyway? How does a bee locate a source of propolis? How does that bee recruit other bees in the colony to collect more of it? If it can kill HIV in human cells, what good might it do for the bees themselves? Such questions take on considerable weight in light of the well-publicized scourges that have afflicted U.S. honeybees for the last several decades. Few people realize that our honeybee population has dropped by half since 1950. Lately, it’s the Varroa mite—a vicious beast about the size of a grain of sand—that’s been wreaking havoc on commercial beekeepers’ stock. In the past few years, these mites have gained resistance to the only two effective conventional chemical treatments. Spivak estimated that losses in the winter and spring of 2005 slashed the number of honeybees in Minnesota by up to a third.To summarize:
bees are in danger,
bees produce propolis which maybe a weapon against HIV,
bees are likely to survive because of the people who are passionate about them.
Read more about bees here.