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  1. #1
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    May 2005
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    Hi All-

    Some time ago on BEE-L I read about mixing crushed propolis with olive oil and using it as a lotion to make yourself less sting-worthy. The claim was that if you smeared some of this concoction on you, the bees would be less inclined to sting. I thought I'd try it out.

    A few weeks ago I ground about 5 teaspoons worth of hard propolis to a fine powder and mixed it with about 1 1/2 cups of olive oil. It's been sitting on the mantle over my wood stove steeping since then. It's taken on a nice brownish color and smells... amazing. Earthy... like propolis [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Today was up in the mid-50's and the bees were out in force. I stuck my finger in the jar, rubbed it all over my hands, wrists, and face, and headed up to the yard. Bees landed on me. They acted... confused. One sat on the back of my hand for a while and gently pulled some of my hairs, groomed itself, then finally flew off. I put my face right up within a few inches of the entrance to a hive and they ignored me. One landed on my face, walked around, then flew off.

    I didn't *try* to get stung and I wasn't working them, but I didn't go out of my way to avoid them. Anyone use propolis like this?
    Dulcius ex asperis

  2. #2
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    wow, this is amazing. it rubs the lotion on it's skin or it will get a sting again. sorry George.

    Questions:
    what kind of bees?
    are they normally wacko or normally gentle?
    would you be willing to pull the same stunt, er, I mean, experiment just using the olive oil to see if they are just as confused?
    does it make your skin creamy and smooth?
    does it smell like dirt earthy or hive earthy?

  3. #3
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    >wow, this is amazing. it rubs the lotion on it's skin or it will get a sting again. sorry George.

    Whatcha apologizing for? Go ahead, laugh it up Fordguy, I can take it! Besides, I didn't make this up, I read it on BEE-L so it must be true [img]smile.gif[/img] The person that mentioned it said that it kept bees from stinging them. Thought I'd try it.

    >Questions:
    >what kind of bees?

    Honey bees.

    >are they normally wacko or normally gentle?

    I would consider them normally pretty gentle and mild mannered. But they're still bees.

    >would you be willing to pull the same stunt, er, I mean, experiment just using the olive oil to see if they are just as confused?

    Huh? Hey this ain't no steenkin controlled scientific experiment!

    >does it make your skin creamy and smooth?

    It do. You don't use much, you don't get all oily, I just stuck my index finger in the jar and spread that all over.

    I'm toying with mixing in a little beeswax and making a hand creme out of it.

    >does it smell like dirt earthy or hive earthy?

    I'd say hive earthy. It sort of smells like amber.. or myrrh, if you can relate to that. It smells kind of sweet, but it tastes somewhat astringent, not unlike propolis [img]smile.gif[/img]

    To top it off, my wife likes the smell and if it keeps HER from stinging, I'm sold [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Dulcius ex asperis

  4. #4
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    well, as a commoner i've never smelt no myrrh, nor did I know how to spell it till I copied it from your post. your bees - italians?

  5. #5
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    May 2005
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    Sorry, Carniolans. I wouldn't say they're hot, but they sure know how to sting when they want to.

    Myrrh: An aromatic gum resin obtained from several trees and shrubs of the genus Commiphora of India, Arabia, and eastern Africa, used in perfume and incense. Also called balm of Gilead.

    Typically it's combined with Frankincense. Frankincense and Myrrh is a traditional middle eastern incense.

    I can only suggest you infuse some powdered propolis in some olive oil and give it a smell.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  6. #6
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    Jan 2001
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    New York City
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    Heck, I go entire days without being stung at all
    sometimes, and I was crediting my Old Spice
    antiperspirant!

    The power of the placebo...

  7. #7
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    Now hold on Jim, there's a sound basis for this phenomena. Consider hunting. Many people use odiferous substances to either lure their game closer, or disguise their own scent so as to lull their quarry into a false sense of security. People also use sight and sound to attract wild game, anything from rattling a couple of antlers together to simulate two bucks fighting to decoys to attract ducks and geese. I'm not suggesting that hunters use odor alone all along...

    The principle is simple enough- I've done it when hunting deer, to good effect. Why should it not apply to bees?

    Now, if you want to work with bees without alarming them, what should you smell like? I ruled out right off smearing myself with honey as being a bad idea. I suggest you should smell like a bee and propolis is an obvious choice to accomplish this goal. Since it came so well recommended, I thought I'd try it. Granted my "experiment" wasn't rigorous but the initial results are compelling! Even laying in bed last night reading, 12 hours after applying propolis oil to my face and hands and even after washing, I could still detect a faint whiff of it. It wasn't offensive at all. My cat was singularly unimpressed, but my dog clearly detected it and even my wife found it... strangely attractive.

    Surely you're not suggesting that the entire effect I observed in my initial limited test was just a placebo effect? Say it ain't so Jim!
    Dulcius ex asperis

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Jamesport Long Island NY
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    George,

    Being from Maine, and a hunter, perhaps you are aware of the male Moose's practice of digging a shallow trench with his hoof. He then pees in it.
    Next he rolls around in it. Female Moose come from all points to mate with this fine smelling fellow.
    Please tell me you will limit your experimenting to propolis and olive oil.
    It's been a long winter for all of us George.

    Bill S
    "Keeping bees for over 50 years and starting to get the hang of it"

  9. #9
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    May 2005
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    Georgia
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    Here's my two Frankin cents. Hive substances, within reason, smeared on the body mask human pheromones to some extent. I think George has hit upon something. I'm going to give it a try.
    What are we, men or Beekeepers?

  10. #10
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    bees always go for my mouth/eyes area. Not much we could do about that besides eat a bunch of honey I spose!

  11. #11
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    >He then pees in it.

    Yup. I can't honestly think of a way to apply this activity to beekeeping.

    >It's been a long winter for all of us George.

    Tell me about it.

    >Here's my two Frankin cents.

    Nice one.

    >I think George has hit upon something. I'm going to give it a try.

    Wahey! Report Success!

    [size="1"][ February 17, 2006, 11:54 AM: Message edited by: George Fergusson ][/size]
    Dulcius ex asperis

  12. #12
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    >bees always go for my mouth/eyes area. Not much we could do about that besides eat a bunch of honey I spose!

    Fordguy, I really think smearing honey on your face is a Bad Idea(tm). Personally, I wear a veil whenever working my bees, but I'd like to get away from wearing gloves and long sleeves. I go gloveless a lot of the time but I inevitably get stung. My wife gets stung a lot less than I do, a fact that she attributes to her being er.. cleaner than me.. not that I'm particularly dirty mind you, but hey, I'm a man and I'm a little less fastidious about clean clothes. I'm quite likely to go cut firewood for an hour then head up to the bee yard whereas my wife seems to spend an inordinate amount of time taking baths..

    This propolis and olive oil stuff isn't unpleasant smelling at all. No reason you couldn't rub some on your face, neck, and ears and go without a veil, or try it anyways.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  13. #13
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    May 2005
    Location
    Plano, North Texas
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    I have long found it interesting that some people get stung more often than others doing the same thing. Why? I don't know. I find it interesting, but not especially critical. Personally, I often work my bees without a veil. Occasionally I get rewarded with a sting on my nose or cheek, so then I wear the veil for a while - a day or two. Last year it happened twice - my worst year ever.

    In physiology texts, the only possible human pheromone (and it is controversial) is from apocrine sweat glands in the armpits and groin, and those are only considered to be pheromonal because women sweat more at certain times of the month. So that leaves us fellows out of the pheromone picture, entirely, as far as science goes. But any scientist worth his bibliography will tell you that science doesn't have all the answers, nor even all the questions. But if we don't have pheromones, why do bees sting some of us more than others? My opinion is that it is some (perhaps-non-pheromonal) odor. Perhaps something that is non-pheromonal to humans but pheromonal to bees. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    Living in Texas, AHBs are sure to be close by, so it's comforting to know I'm not particularly offensive to bees in general, but I like the idea of the propolis oil making me even less offensive. I'd much rather be just one of the girls, as it were.
    "Before I speak, I have something I'd like to say. . . . I will try to keep this short as long as I can." Yogi Berra

  14. #14
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    Sep 2004
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    I have long found it interesting that some people get stung more often than others doing the same thing.
    It does seem to happen more to those folks who truly dread the thought of being stung.

    the only possible human pheromone (and it is controversial) is from apocrine sweat glands in the armpits and groin
    I think the more precise term in the case of bees vs. humans is kairomone. Could it be possible that nervous people give off a kairomone detectable to bees?

  15. #15
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    Oct 2004
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    chatsworth, calif usa
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    >and even my wife found it... strangely attractive.<


    I've heard enough. My wife is attractive. I'm strange. I'm going to try it.-j
    My Mom's other kids are smarter than me, but i'm not nearly as nice.

  16. #16
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    Well now Jim, no promises, but good luck all the same.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  17. #17
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    Mar 2004
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    Palestine, Tx. 75801
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    Alright George, you stumbled upon an old native secret. This is what Newbee's native, from Rio de Janeiro was wearing to keep the african bees at bay.
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  18. #18
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    Mr. Elliott, are you kidding? festoon your post with emoticons, or at least affix a smilie of some sort so that we may guage your level of joviality.

  19. #19
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    Jan 2001
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    > Now, if you want to work with bees without
    > alarming them, what should you smell like?

    I will admit that we have received 100 or more
    e-mails and letters from beekeepers, each informing
    us that they spray Bee-Quick on their hands or
    clothing to keep bees from stinging.

    We refrain from making any overt claims about
    the utility of the product in this area due
    to product liability concerns (to wit, some moron
    thinking that they can handle a hive of AHB when
    "protected" by nothing more than our product).

    While I doubt that any such approach will prevent
    the FIRST sting, it is reasonable to assume
    that any volatile substance might be able to mask
    the alarm pheromone associated with a sting or
    being "marked" by a kamakaz-bee head-butt, and
    thus prevent SUBSEQUENT stings. The old
    traditional trick here is to smoke the stung area
    instantly, just after removing the stinger, which
    also works to one extent or another.

    Problem is, propolis is not all that volatile
    at ambient temperatures, so it simply is not
    going to release enough fumes/scent/odor to
    overpower alarm pheromone.

    Heck, do what you like. I get far fewer stings
    by simply working my bees as early as possible
    before they have a chance to get warmed up and
    in a "fightin' mood". So, we likely work more
    bees before you wake up than most people work
    all week, and if the weather is nice, and things
    go smoothly, I can often return home for lunch
    without a single sting, even though dressed in
    no more than a tee-shirt and shorts.

    But sooner or later, I'm gonna get stung, and
    I know it. Denial and fear is not going to
    help me, nor are magic potions, amulets, or
    charms. If I know I can get stung, I'm going
    to handle bees with style, panache and casual aplomb.

    I'm going to be smooth and calm, which prevents
    most of the stings beekeepers get.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
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    George may be on to something. I once read that during the world war (I? II?) the US navy was having trouble getting recruits. The problem was fear of sharks. They came up with packs of shark repellent that were just dye and did exactly nothing that the sharks cared about. Enlistment went up.

    Now, if George bottles and sells his no-sting bee oil, and people trust it, they might relax and proceed with "style, panache and casual aplomb".

    I intend to give the idea a shot. I'll let you all know if it calms the bees, or if George's wife shows up.

    Best,
    Tom
    <a href=\"http://beenews.blogspot.com\" target=\"_blank\">Bee News</a>

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