View Full Version : Q: Best time to reduce propolis in hive?

11-12-2009, 03:58 PM
I have a first year hive of Italians, and they have propolised the hive frames something fierce! I had not been very diligent in scraping the frames over the summer, and now that the fall is upon us, things are glued up tight. Plus there is a lot of propolis along the frame rest edges.

For you experienced beekeepers, when (and how) do you keep the levels of propolis manageable on your frames? I actually had a frame split on me in late summer when I was separating it from the adjacent frame (I suspect it was already a weak spot, exacerbated by the propolis).

Do you simply take out the frame and scrape the edges removing the propolis? How often? I used to try it and I ended up irritating the bees a lot (since the propolis tended to cut loose and I'd jar the frame a little). Maybe I just am too timid in my expectations...

Thanks for your insight!

-- Steven

11-12-2009, 05:28 PM
I wouldn't be concerned with Propolis on the brood frames, they can get ugly. Unless you simply can't find the queen without removing every frame, I'd suggest living with it. They do this maybe because they're sealing up the drafty holes. I guess they might get a tax credit for over insulating their hive ?

Wait until spring.

Someone should extract propolis glue and sell it in place of super glue....Boy, would they make a fortune.

11-12-2009, 07:09 PM
I really don't go into my hives from Oct/Nov through Feb. In the early spring when the cluster is small sometimes I will take the empty box and clean the frame ears and rest and then put it on top. I don't worry about any frames with a lot of bees.

Most of my maintenance is in March/April when (around here) the clusters are still small, the bees are not defensive and I can find a nice day.

11-12-2009, 08:00 PM
Maybe send some to Nasa for space shuttle tile repair adhesive?

11-13-2009, 09:20 AM
Ever try greasing the rabbit ?


11-13-2009, 07:21 PM
If you need a life long occupation, start removing the propolis from your hive. Because you can do it again next year and the year after that and for ever more. The only removal of propolis that I do is from frame spacers when it gets really hard to jam in the frames.

11-14-2009, 09:24 PM
The time to reduce propolis is when you want some propolis for your medicine cabinet, so you have a piece on hand to suck on if you have a sore throat.

I think harvesting propolis is the only time most folks ever do much in the way of reducing propolis. (and not all beekeepers harvest propolis)

11-18-2009, 03:11 PM
I always made a habit of scraping off the top bars whenever I worked bees and saving it in a lidded five gallon pale that I carried on the truck. That doesn't mean I would dig into the brood chamber and scrape off every frame, but I liked to be able to see down into the frames. That being said, the amount collected from 500+hives over a given season this way was impressive. Also, when harvesting, while the extractors were spinning I and my help made a habit of cleaning the inside of the supers. At the end of a season I would routinely ship several hundred pounds of propolis to CC pollen in Arizona. At that time they paid $22 a pound rendered. Not a bad bonus check for keeping clean, easy to work equipment.

Michael Bush
11-18-2009, 06:15 PM
I make it a habit to never scrape propolis unless it's more work to leave it...


11-19-2009, 10:00 PM
Michael, thanks for the link. I agree with some of your philosophy, but not all. The some I agree with is to let nature dictate the course of the hive and the fate of the bees. The part I do not agree with is to allow profit to slip away in the name of "harmony". What you must understand after your years of beekeeping is that one must be paid for his time. Maybe you have never had to support a family of six on your decisions and your motivation, but I have. I find it interesting that you would quote Richard Taylor as he was a neighbor of mine and we rubbed elbows often. Richard, as you may know, was a philosopher, and was paid for being one-both at Cornell University and with his books. He did not make his living from beekeeping. That being said, his "Joy of Beekeeping" was one of my favorite books.
Back to the collection of Propolis. I found it to be an excellent source of income outside of honey production and pollination. More than enough reason to include it in the routine of everyday commercial beekeeping.

11-20-2009, 03:15 PM
Looks to me like MB was addressing the original poster's query w/regards to his singular Italian Honey Bee hive.

Commercial beekeepers operate on a different level than your average hobbyist, obviously. I haven't read his book but would surmise that Richard Taylor was also steering his advice towards the newbie/hobbyist.

After having read thousands of MB's posts over the years, I'm pretty sure he understands the nuances of beekeeping.


Michael Bush
11-21-2009, 04:30 PM
I would think a commercial beekeeper would see the wisdom in NOT scraping propolis UNLESS it's in your way. I certainly don't have time for it.

11-25-2009, 06:43 PM
I think you are asking the wrong question. WHY remove the propolis? It's an antibiotic. It's part of the immune system for the colony. The bees themselves don't have that much of an immune system. Part of the problem is the frame spacers. Remove them and when you have the frames clean enough, cram them together leaving the extra space evenly, next to the sides of the box. This gives less space for the propolis to go. Also, it makes it easy to remove frames as you can use the side space on the outside frame to get it out. The next frame is easier.