• Español
  • Français
  • English
  • Português

Know the full potential of the hive: how beekeepers can increase their income through the production of other beehive products

We would like to invite you to the next moderated discussion “Know the full potential of the hive: how beekeepers can increase their income through the production of other beehive products”. This will be a discussion about the less known beehive products propolis, beebread and bee larvae and about how beekeepers can increase their income and health through the production and use of these beehive products.

The discussion will be moderated by Antonio Couto, International Apitherapy Consultant and Natural Therapist, expert in bee venom therapy (BVT).  Antonio has been working with beehive products since 2000. In his private practice in Portugal he uses Apitherapy and bee venom therapy to deal with health issues. He is also traveling the world to teach and promote apitherapy.  Antonio is president of the Portuguese Apitherapy Association and co-founder of the ONG “Bees For Life” (Apitherapists without borders).  He also invented devices and instruments for Micro Api-punture (Bee Venom Therapy).

Antonio will be moderating the discussion from 27 November to 31 December 2017. During this time, he will share relevant practical information and knowledge with all people interested in beekeeping and apitherapy in developing countries so that they can increase their income from beekeeping and use the beehive products to enhance their health.   You will learn about propolis, beebread and bee larvae and discover how to produce them, extract them from the hive, store them and use these products for improved health.

If you are curious and want to learn already a bit about the health benefits of these and other beehive products, you can read the TECA discussion on Apitherapy: http://teca.fao.org/discussion/apitherapy

Please feel free to invite your friends and colleagues and all who might be intersted in the topic to join the discussion.  Remember, to post a question or share an experience, you first have to log-in.  If you are not a  registered member yet, you can register here: http://teca.fao.org/user/register

We are looking forward to a very intersting exchange of information ! 



Dear all,

Let's start the discussion !

Many beekeepers around the world only collect honey from their hives because they don´t know about the other products that the honey bees produce and that can be collected from the hive by the beekeeper.

Chinese beekeepers maybe were one of the first people to collect much more than honey from their hives increasing the income with all products collected from our lovely bees.

This was the start of Apitherapy in China more than 4.000 years ago. Apitherapy is a medicine that uses bee products to treat and/or to prevent diseases and keep people healthy.

The bee products used in apitherapy are many but the more important ones are honey, propolis, royal jelly, pollen, larvae (from drone, queen and worker bee), bee venom and wax. In this discussion, we will talk about propolis, beebread and bee larvae.  My explanations in this discussion are for home and small scale use and production only, with the purpose of introducing beekeepers to these products and teach them how to collect and use them. It it not an advanced level discussion for commercial and large scale production.

Beekeeping and Apitherapy have big potencial not only to increase beekeeper’s income but also to keep them and their families healthy and strong. In our discussion we will learn how to do both things at the same time: making more money and have a longer and healthy live with bee products.


  1. What is propolis

Propolis or “bee glue” is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds and plant resins (f.eg. from coniferous trees). Bees collect propolis to use it in the hive as a building material and also to protect the colony against diseases.   Among many other properties propolis has antimicrobial and anti-viral properties. This means that propolis can be used to fight microbes and viruses.  It is also used to strengthen the immune system.

The beekeeper can easily collect the raw propolis from the hive, and use it to boost his or her own health and that of others or as a medicine in certain cases. So propolis offers the opportunity to the beekeeper to help people feel better, and maybe generate extra income from the sales of propolis.  

  1. How to collect propolis from the hive

Beekeepers might have noticed that when using a hivetool to open the hive, the hivetool becomes “dirty” with a (generally) brownish sticky substance. This is propolis (please see picture 1).  The bees will try to close all unwanted openings in the hive with propolis to protect the colony from draft or small animals entering the hive like ants for exemple (please see picture 5).

Picture 1. Beehive with propolis on the wooden frames

Picture 2. Removing propolis with the hive tool from the frames

Picture 3. Pieces of raw propolis collected from the hive 

Picture 4. Making a ball with the propolis to prevent oxidation. This is the best way to store raw propolis.

Picture 5 – Wild colony of bees reducing the entrance with propolis

To learn more about how to collect propolis please click here:

(see also http://teca.fao.org/technology/how-collect-raw-propolis-hive).  This TECA technology clearly explains how to collect propolis from the hive.   If you have any questions related to how to collect propolis, I will be happy to reply !


It is best to collect propolis from inside the hive so it is not contaminated with dust and/or oxidated.

Propolis should be collected from hives located in areas where no pesticides are used or where contamination is limted (for example as far as possible away from an industrial area). Also be sure that you use clean tools when you collect it from the hive.


The best way to store raw propolis is by lumping all pieces of propolis together in a ball (see picture 4) to reduce oxidation. Oxidation means that in contact with air (and sun) propolis can loose some of its healing properties. When we make balls with raw própolis only the exterior fine (exposed to air) will oxidate. Raw propolis (in ball form) should be stored in a clean container in a dark and cool place, away from direct sunlight.

3. How to process propolis

Propolis can be used raw, but propolis is more powerful in its “extracted” form.  This is because the human body is not able to extract from raw propolis certain components that are beneficial for our body. Certain products such as alcohol and fats such as butter or oil are able to extract from propolis many of its beneficial components, and make them available to the body when consumed.  I will explain now how to prepare propolis extracts with raw propolis.

It is very easy to make propolis extract and there are different ways to make it depending on the solvent or “extraction product” you will use.  

Alcohol extracted propolis (AEP)

The solvent used here is alcohol. Of course we are speaking about alcohol we can drink and not the kind of alcohol we can buy in the store or pharmacy to clean wounds (rubbing alcohol). The alcohol to clean and desinfect wounds normally has chemicals added to it to avoid people to drink it or to add it to alcoholic drinks with the purpose of increasing the alcohol content of that drinks. So be very careful and be sure that the alcohol you are using is alcohol you can drink.  You can also use any locally brewed or available strong alcholic drink (preferably from 40% to 70% alcohol).  Beer for example and other similar low alcoholic drinks are not good because the alcohol percentage is not high enough.

Alcohol extracted propolis is a valuable product that can be prepared in little time and with only two ingredients: raw propolis and drinking alcohol.  

After proplis is collected from the hive, I would advise you to mix it with alcohol as soon as possible to avoid oxidation and/or contamination of the propolis and to preserve all its healing properties.

Method: Before you start, wash your hand and make sure you have all the necessary equipment on the table. Break the propolis in as little as possible pieces to increase the contact surface and allow better extraction of the propolis proporties in the alcohol.  Put the small pieces of propolis in a clean glass jar with an airtight lid, add alcohol and close the jar.  You should add 3 parts of acohol for 1 part of raw propolis. Label it with the date (please see picture 6) and store in a dark and cool place for at least 2 weeks or until all the chuncks of propolis are dissolved.  You should shake the glass jar at least once a day to help the propolis to dissolve better into the alcohol. The propolis extract is ready when the propolis chunks are completelly dissolved and only a  depost of residues is left at the bottom of the jar. Now, it is good idea to filter it to remove the residues (with a little piece of clean soft paper or cloth) into a clean glass jar and store it in a dark and cool place.  A second extraction can be made with the residues left after filtration.  This second filtration can then be mixed with the first one.

How to remove the alcohol from propolis extract and make PROPOLIS PASTE:

After the propolis is filtered, it is possible to eliminate the alcohol by putting that mixture on a flat plate, or a piece of flat glass like a mirror (protected from direct light) and let the alcohol evaporate for a few hours (or days). After the alcohol evaporates a “sticky” paste will remain on the plate (please see the picture 7). The right moment to remove the propolis paste from the surface is when it is still liquid so it is easy for you to remove it from the surface and put it in another container. If you leave the propolis paste too long on the plate, all the liquid will evaporate too and only the solid part of the propolis will remain and it will be very difficult to remove it from the plate. Depending on the percentage of alcohol used, the paste will be more or less dense. That “sticky” paste is near 100% pure propolis and can be mix with liquid honey or creams or water (to be used by children for exemple). 

A good way to use propolis paste is by mixing it with peanut butter. This “peanut propolis butter” can be used externally or internally, and especially, it has a very nice taste.  Children love it. It is also a good way to administer propolis to animals: they too love peanut propolis butter.

Picture 6. Raw Propolis mixed with alcohol

Picture 7. Propolis without alcohol

To learn more about how to process propolis, including extract of different percentage, please click here:


If you have questions related to processing propolis, pls feel free to post them below.


It is possible to make propolis extracts also with oily substances like vegetable oil or butter. In this case, you should only use the purest of propolis, collected from inside the hive, because it will not be filtered afterwards.  Just mix some small piece of raw propolis with soft butter or with vegetable oil.

Leave the oil/butter extraction for 2 to 4 weeks and stir the mixture once every day.

If you put raw propolis in your mouth and chew it, most of the propolis will stick to your teeth. But if you also chew seeds or nuts (such as sesamy, sunflower seeds, peanuts, etc.) at the same time, these oils contained in the seeds will dissolve the propolis very quickly making it so easy to swallow and for your body to assimilate the properties extracted by the fats.

4. How to use propolis 

Propolis can be used in many ways. As an alcoholic extract, propolis can  be used externally or internally, in creams or ointments to external use, in paste to mix with drinks or inhalation (putting honey and propolis paste into boiling water). 

Please see also the discussion on Apitherapy for the properties of propolis: http://teca.fao.org/comment/2613#comment-2613

Please ask me questions about how you can use propolis to treat a health problem.

5. How can you sell propolis

The best way to sell propolis is offering the best possible quality product.

Propolis can be comercialized in raw form (please see the picture 8) or in liquid extract (please see picture 9 and 10) or in cream/ointment form (please see the picture 11) or mixed with honey (please see picture 12). That last one is a best seller in many countries.

Picture 8. Propolis ball ready for sell

Picture 9. Propolis tincture inside small glass bottle with pipette to better control the dose

Picture 10. Propolis water extract

Picture 11. Propolis cream (with wax and honey)

Picture 12. Honey with propolis

You are welcome to ask questions or share your experiences with producing propolis or using propolis.

Best wishes,


Dear Antonio,

Thanks for sharing this very intersting information.  I am intersted in propolis, because I read more about its properties, and will try to make the propolis extract for myself and my family.   It is amazing to have this great product right in my orchard !   

When using propolis against colds and the symptoms like sore throat, cough, etc.  which type of propolis extract is most efficient or would you recommend and what would be the dosis of the different types of extract ?

Thank you !


Dear Antonio,

Thanks very much for this brilliant exposer on the Propolis, i am a trainers and a bee farmer in a small scale, this will help me to build my training skills and the learners.

It is noticed that most local beekeepers don't yet know much about what is Propolis and its importance. Thanks so much for this lectures.



Dear Slavko,

Thank you for your comments.

First of all you have to take care about what kind of solvent you will use to your propolis extract.

Alcohol is the best one (70%) but in case you haven't available that concentration of alcohol you can use lower concentration. Of course )like I already said before) must be alcohol you can drink.

I remember one time I gave a workshop about propolis and one of the participants called me some weeks later telling me that she made the propolis extract and gave it to her dog and the dog died after some days. The reason why was she made the propolis extract with rubbing alcohol. That kind of alcohol is not expensive and has in the label the words "EXTERNAL USE ONLY"  because it has a chemical component mix with the alcohol to stop people from drinking it.

We have to use common sense all the time in our lives.

Like for example if I want to make propolis extract to give to my children or people who cannot drink alcohol I have to use water or oil.

Normally I recommend the kind of extract and dose depending the patient. I mean it is always different from person to person because we all are different people with different needs. 

The general protocol for propolis extract is one to give drops for each kg of body weight one to five times a day, depending the case. If you want to use propolis extract as a prevention (to strengthen the immune system), for example, you can take one drop per each kg one time a day.

Concerning the kinds of extracts I can say that if you use alcohol extract will be more powerful because alcohol can extract more propolis compounds than any other kind of solvent. Propolis paste mixed with water is a good idea if you give it to children. 

Always is good idea to test your body first and start with minimum quantities to avoid allergic reactions. So start with one drop on a sensitive skin area of your body. Rub a little bit to penetrate and wait a few hours. If don't feel any adverse reactions you can start intake propolis extract but again with small quantity in the beginning like five or six drops in a glass of water (in adult case). Children with less that 6 years old I always recommend the use of propolis extract externally only. If you use propolis extract externally it will penetrate and make effect too.

I hope that I answer to your question.




Thank you Antonio for the clarifications. 

I am correct to think that propolis paste has the same properties as the alcohol extract?

Another question: when using propolis with children below 6 years, for sore throat for example, where on the body would you rub the propolis for best effects?

Greetings, Slavko

Dear Slavko,

Yes you are right. Propolis paste is the final product after you eliminate the alcohol from alcoholic propolis extract. Has the same properties. Only no alcohol or better saying almost no alcohol because the alcohol evaporates in that process but a very smal amount still remains.

Concerning your second question, the best area to rub the propolis, for throat problems, in childrew below 6 years old is on reflex points. Please see foot, hand and ear reflex points charts (in google). Use a cotonete with propolis extract and make a very gentle massage on that area related with throat.

All the best



Dear Joseph

Thanks so much for your participation in our propolis discussion and welcome.

Yes, you are right when you say that 

"most beekeepers don't know yet much about Propolis and its importance"

I would like to give you a challenge: 

Contact the maximum number of beekeepers, or people interested to know about propolis, pollen bee bread and larvae,,in your area and ask them what they want to know. You will be the leader of this discussion in your country by organizing the questions to me. I will answer with great pleasure.

So? Can I count on you? All the bestAntonio

Dear readers,

Tomorrow we will move to the next discussion topic: pollen.  If you have more questions about propolis, you are welcome to ask them.  You can also share how you use propolis or how you prosess it into a value addded product.

Greetings from Lisbon,


Babatunde Oreyemi's picture

I have a six yr old boy with hole in two of his molar milk teeth's. What I do, I soak the propolis in ethanol for 2 days. The solution after the propolis might have dissolve, I ll use syringe to draw some and put some drops into the holes and I ll now use the undissolved propolis to fill the holes. This stop the pain for many months. I have repeated this the second time last week. Am hoping when he shed the teeth he will grow a good permanent teeth.
Is this action of mine ok and of standard practice?

Dear Babatunde Oreyemi

Welcome to our discussion and thank you for your participation.

Bacteria are responsible for teeth decay, dental plaque and other mouth problems. Propolis has a very strong anti-bacterial property and when we apply propolis in our mouth, bacteria stop to make damage there because cannot survive to propolis action.

Inside our mouth we have millions of bacteria all the time installing, multiplying and making damage there. Is very good idea to all children (and adults) to use propolis to help our teeth and everything else in mouth free of bacteria. 

Propolis paste will be the best product to use in the mouth because it can remain more time there. If you don't have propolis paste you also can use propolis alcoholic extract. Some minutes after applying propolis alcohol extract on the teeth and gums the alcohol will evaporate and only the propolis will stays there. 

Please continue the good work.