Comparison of Use and Chemical Composition of Propolis Collected by U.S. Honey Bees

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2006: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Marla Spivak
University of Minnesota

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bees


  • Animal Production: Beekeeping

    Proposal abstract:

    The long-term goal of this research is to investigate the basic biology of resin collection by honey bees. Bees collect resin from particular trees and shrubs and use it as a form of cement, called propolis, to seal any cracks or openings in the nest. Propolis is known for its anti-microbial properties and is widely used by people outside the United States to treat a number of bacterial and viral infections. This will be the first comprehensive study to document relative propolis use among different lines of bees in the U.S. and the first recent study in the U.S. to identify the plant sources from which honey bees collect the resins. It will yield important baseline information for future studies involving selecting bees for increased propolis use, and basic natural history information on seasonal availability and chemical composition of resins for two sites in Minnesota. The results from this study should stimulate a surprisingly neglected area of research on honey bees and will help beekeepers exploit an opportunity for secondary income by selling propolis. For over a century, beekeepers, particularly in the U.S., have selected lines of bees that deposit less propolis because of its sticky nature. However increasing evidence concerning the medicinal properties of propolis to both humans and bees warrants a reinvestigation into the properties and potential value of propolis collected by honey bees in the U.S.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1. Document variability in the amount of resin collection by colonies of four different European-derived honey bee subspecies in the U.S.

    Objective 2. Characterize the plant source/plant type and analyze the chemical profiles of resins collected by honey bees in MN apiaries.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.