MN Impact: Value of Propolis Envelopes Reaches Beekeepers

January 18, 2019


Percentage of beekeepers who participate in programs who self-report they've changed their beekeeping practices to better support the bee population.


Honey bees play a keystone role in the productivity of agriculture and the beauty of our world by pollinating fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers. However, in recent years, honey bees populations are not surviving as well as they used to, and beekeepers are seeking new information to help keep their hives healthy.

What has been done

Over the last several years, Marla Spivak and her team have been exploring how honey bees keep themselves healthy through social immunity. Among their focuses has been uncovering information of the value of the antimicrobial properties of propolis (plant resins) within hives.


Research results showed colonies that construct a propolis envelope in the nest cavity have more efficient immune function due to fewer microbes in the nest.

Beekeepers are taking notice of these recent research discoveries and are starting to encourage bees to construct a propolis envelopes within their hives. This represents a major change in perception and behavior as beekeepers have long considered propolis to be a sticky nuisance within colonies.