LESSON 162: Coating The Inside Of Hives With Propolis www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we are David and Sheri Burns. We are located in east central Illinois. With a passion for beekeeping, we’ve dedicated a big part of our lives to promote beekeeping.

In December 2011 I wrote a lesson/article on propolis and in that lesson I said, “Many people are now recommending that we score or scratch the smooth surfaces of the insides of our hives, forcing the bees to add propolis as they would in a natural hive in a tree.” Since that time I have been evaluating more and more studies and the results are very promising. So today I want to share why coating the inside of a hive with propolis can make a difference and I’ll show you how to do it. Before I get into today’s lesson, here’s a few pre-lesson comments.

In 2010 I became a certified master beekeeper to insure our classes are accurate, informative and thorough. One such class is a new class we are offering this year, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter.”  Our first class, coming up on Sept 6th,  quickly filled up. Then we offered the same class for Sept. 7th and that class quickly filled up. So now we are offering yet a third date for this upcoming class, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” on Sunday Oct. 5th from Noon-6pm. Click here to sign up now. It is a good feeling to come out of winter with strong colonies. Beekeepers are making many mistakes that can lead to colonies dying in the winter. In this one day class we’ll discuss the major causes for winter die-outs and what steps beekeepers can take to give their colonies a better chance to survive winter. Don’t wait until the first frost to get your hive ready for winter. Start now because the first day of winter is only 122 days away. Make an investment to be a better beekeeper.

Our Winter-Bee-Kind orders are pouring in! If you have not placed your order yet, please do so soon. We sell both 10 frame and 8 frame WBK, so be sure to order the correct size.  Click here for more information. Our video demonstrating our Winter-Bee-Kind has had nearly 9,000 views! Check it out below. If you cannot view it below go to: http://youtu.be/7sDXqd4DcKc

We started harvesting honey from our hives this week and it was a great honey year. It’s always so rewarding to watch the honey pour out of the extractor. We have the footage, and will soon put together a video on how to extract honey. We’re also making a video for a step by step guide on how to break the queen’s brood cycle in order to help control varroa mites. We just completed footage and that video will be forthcoming soon.

Our recent video and experiment on adding additional wax to plastic foundation generated nearly 1,000 views in a week. I received a lot of emails asking for specifics, so I made another video on specifically how I add wax to frames. You can view it now by clicking here or go to:


LESSON 162: Coating The Inside Of Hives With Propolis

Propolis is more than just sticky stuff on frames. Actually more and more studies are showing that colonies with ample amounts of propolis do better by benefiting the bees immune defensive (Simone-Finstrom, et al, 2009). So the idea is to add something to the walls of the hive in order for the bees to coat them with propolis, like they do in a tree in nature. There are several ways to accomplish this:

1) Cut to size a plastic proplis trap screen and staple it onto the inside walls of your hives.

propolis162 2) Gather and save propolis and dilute it in alcohol then brush it on the inside walls of your hives. Ok! I’ll make a video of this too :) Meanwhile, I have posted a complete description on my website on how to do this, step by step. Visit www.honeybeesonline.com for complete details. It is located as item number 39 on our main front page if you scroll down. This method has proven to be more controllable for me. It really isn’t hard to do. The first method may take more time for the bees to actually add propolis to the traps. This second method works great. I’m so impressed. Check out my website for the complete method.



Prop2 3)  Score or scratch the inside walls of your hive bodies causing the bees to add propolis to smooth it out. Notice what the bees have done to this rough area near a knot on the inside of the hive. The scoring does not have to be very excessive as shown in this photo.

It seems that bees will more readily forage for propolis during a dearth or a slow nectar flow period. So now would be the time to use a trap to gather propolis or staple traps or scratch the inside walls of your hive.

It is important to view propolis as part of the colony’s immune system. Last year Renata Borba , Entomology, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN, spoke at the Entomological Society of America (November 2013) about this very subject. She’s been doing a lot of work on this very subject. She basically discovered that bees in hives with propolis treatments did not have to use their immune systems as much. Also her study found that colonies with more propolis had significantly more brood.

Marla Spivak, PhD, wrote an article on the value of adding propolis to hives and refers to the work of one of her previous graduate students, Mike Simone-Finstrom, “He found that bees exposed to a propolis envelope for just seven days had lower bacterial
loads in and on their bodies, and had ‘quieter’ immune systems compared with bees in a colony with no propolis envelope. In other words, the propolis in the colony was killing off microbes in the nest, so that the bees’ immune systems did not have to gear up and make peptides and cellular responses that fight off infection.”

In a day when everything seems to be working against the bees, why not throw one more thing in their favor.

Here’s my first lesson on propolis:  Or go to:

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Tell your friends about us. See you next time.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678  M-Thu 10am-4pm CDT, Fri  10am-Noon


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