Honey Show and propolis

Wax rose and propolis tincture
Wax rose and propolis tincture

I went to the National Honey Show yesterday and really enjoyed it. I didn’t manange to get to all the things I wanted because I overslept, but I still found it very worthwhile. I went to a workshop on making wax flowers…see my effort. Now to be honest with you I am busy enough as it is, I hardly have time to make wax flowers! Still I enjoyed it, I like trying my hand at something different. I wanted to go to a lecture on propolis but it was so packed that it was spilling out into the corridoor. C’est la vie.  I have managed to extract some propolis and have started taking it, but need to get a lot more before I stand any chance of being able to take it regularly.

One of the most interesting books I have read recently is on propolis. It called, unsurpisingly ‘Bee Propolis Natural Healing from the Hive’ by James Fearnley. I have become interested in propolis as a succesor to antibiotics. If we dont stop overprescribing them we are heading for a disaster. I have included instructions on how to prepare propolis in alcohol. I will put up other preparations later. According to Fearnley it can be used as a tincture or as an internal remedy. Take a few drops a day to boost your immune system. Use externally for cuts, grazes etc( I am not sure the alcohol wouldnt sting, I havent tried it yet)

I also bought a book on making Mead. I did try some at a stall and liked it. I need more honey though if I am going to make Mead as well as sell some to pay the costs of beekeeping.

Propolis tincture recipe.

Remove any obvious contaminants for the propolis, such as wood, bees etc.

Cut into small pieces and put in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid. (I used a propolis screen which I put into the freezer for a few hours to make it brittle, it was much easier to remove)

Pour in commercial drinking grade alcohol, 70% proof produces the best results but ordinary spirits such as Vodka or Gin are perfectly acceptable.

To make a 25% alcohol extract you need 250 g of proplis plus 4 times that weight/volume in alcohol- i.e. approx 1 litre. I found that I was only making a very small amount and it worked out that it was just enough alcohol to barely cover the propolis.

Store in a warm dark place for at least a week and shake daily.Optimum extraction takes between ten to fourteen days.

Filter through a fine cloth or a coffee filter.

Place in the fridge for a couple of days and then filter again with the finest filter possible.



  1. […] Irina and Thordur wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptIt called, unsurpisingly ‘Bee Propolis Natural Healing from the Hive’ by James Fearnley. I have become interested in propolis as a succesor to antibiotics. If we dont stop overprescribing them we are heading for a disaster. … […]

  2. I expect to try your propolis wonder drug to see if it can boost my imune system which might be very poor down one side……..

  3. Yes it does taste foul. I have been using the tincture and masking it with something strongly flavoured. Its a bit like taking medicine! Having said that, I had an eye infection, took some propolis and it was better by the next day. I dont know if it would have got better anyway or not, but I am still taking it.

  4. Thanks for the simplicity of the recipe, and as I can’t get strong alcohol legally, I will try the vodka/gin route.

    Do you know anything about distilling propolis?

  5. No I dont. I cant see the advantage in terms of purity as you could distill out some of the nutrients. As its in alcohol its pretty germ free. In terms of strength I assume, but dont know, that if you want a stronger solution you would simply alter the ratio of propolis to alcohol. I think you are from Australia? I dont know what the law is there about distilling alcohol, but its illegal here. In theory I guess you could use an aromatherapy still for the amount needed but have never tried it.

  6. As luck would have it, I asked the right person the right question, and ended up exchanging 1kg of cold extracted honey for 250ml of food grade, 80% white spirit with a home-brewer who wants to try to make mead.

    I think I’m confused with thre terms ‘distil’ ‘extract’ and ‘tincture’ as it’s nearly 50 years since I studied high school chemistry, but I’m on the case, and had already started with 30ml of 44% brown rum and 10g of propolis, and you’re right about the ‘just enough to cover…’.

    I used the 1:3 ratio on the advice of a very experienced bee products prodcuer

    It’s now 8 days old, and I can see how the propolis has dissolved into it, and I’ve already stating dabbing it on to very small broken skin scratches, with a cleansing effect to the wound site, and a speed-up in my normal healing time.

    Now I’m waiting ’till I get some small volume, narrow-necked bottles to try the white spirit and propolis recipe, and sharpening my fingers and toes for the maths to dilute the tincture for oral mouth-wash use.

    BTW, R U going to APIMONDIA in Montpellier, France, in Septermber this year?

  7. Propolis tincture progress.

    I searched around for various tincture-making recipes, and the one I used requires the propolis to be frozen. One recipe suggests crumling it into warm water for a few minutes, in order for the wax to rise, and thus, ‘clean’ the propolis a little. I didn’t do this at all, impatiently preferring to use whole, raw, untreated propolis

    Becasue I used only 10g of propolis, I sliced the frozen propolis with a sharp knife, and it quite literally crumbled which increases the surface area exposed to the alcohol.
    I quickly placed the crumbled propolis into a Jognny Walker miniature bottle, and added 40ml of my 80% ethanol, sealed and shook the bottle, and stored it in a dark, warm nook, watching it darken in colour.

    At day 4, it seemed so dark as to not be transparent, so we began to sample it orally.

    We use an eye dropper to accuratekly measure the drops, and use between 3 and 7 dropos of tincture in a little honey. It has a medicinal but interesting floral taste.

    I find 1/4tsp honey with 5 drops of propolis added (stirred on the teaspoon with toothpick), and taken sub-lingually (under the tongue) to be beneficial, and a chronic abdominal pain from some sort of inflamation has suddenly eased, and my eyes suddenly felt brighter. My breath is definitely sweeter, and my chronically obstructed nasal passages seem to expel fluid (as if I had a short burst of the sniffles, and my breathing seems clearer.

    My partner experienced a bright-eyed feeling as well as a general well-being.

    I am quite aware of its possible psychosomatic effect, and we don’t have any scietific method to ‘measure’ changes in our well-being. Time and diary notes will help this process.

    Thismorning, day 6, I decided to try to make a topical creme, and found a very simple recipe using ratios of propolis tincture, olive oil, baby oil and bee’s wax, made over a water bath.

    I’m not at all patient, so it has ended up looking like lumpy peanut butter, but I slathered it on my freckled arms and face, and went off to a regional agriculltural field day in 40 degree heat for several hours. I burned brown, not red, and my sut-hat protected face is not at all blotchy, as it is after even referred heat.

    However, I feel the olive oil is too heavy, and I find the product feels like Clag (a 1950s brand of a thick water paste for school kids). on my skin The creme smells very strongly of alcoholised propolis, and adding several drops of pure Lavender oil did not ameliorate this, but I smell clean, and the odour settles, and no-one could detect it once applied.

    I made more than I wantde to (mis-read recipe) and have it stored in small, wide mouthed jars in the fridge. I will keep one jar for topical use on my dogs’ itches, and give the other to a horse trainer, for some feed-back.

    It will be important to observe for any separation of the emulsion

    Luckily, I’ve also met up with a skin-care manufacturing bio-chemist, who has her own professional range of naturally based products, and a true, professional outfit for manufacturiing same, but hasn’t worked with propolis, and has invited me to stay in touch re same, and viist and use her filters.

    So, madpam, thanx again for the geat start you have given me, and I urge others to give it a go.

    Just remember to freeze the propolis, then crush it to increase the surface area exposed to the alcohol.

    • For some reason I wasnt notified of this message so I didnt see it!
      Thank you so much for the time you have taken to put this up! I am going to get some more bees in a few months and start AGAIN!!

  8. Hi, I am wondering if you’ve done anything further with the propolis? I have collected a bit over the last 2 years of bee-keeping and am looking forward to mixing up something – maybe honey and propolis. Any ideas as to the amounts to mix? proportions? any input would be welcome. thanks.

    • Hi, sorry its taken so long to get back to you. At the moment my propolis initiative is on hold, as I lost all my bees with CCD! However I would recommend Fearnleys book, ‘Propolis, natural healing from the hive.’ I found it fascinating!

    • i am wondering if you found any ideas for mixing propolis with honey? i have just melted our propolis on a double boiler and added honey, but it still is too grainy, sticking to teeth, etc! any ideas?

      • you dont mix honey with melted propolis , at least i dont know about it , never heard of it …
        you mix the propolis tincture with raw honey you mix about one part of propolis at aboout 8-10 parts of honey
        the taste is better

  9. I have been purchasing propolis tablets, capsules, tincture and alcohol free extract from this company in Arizona since the 80’s. I also take the Bee Pollen granules they sell. Pretty tasty sprinkled over cereal. I am rarely sick and have been allergy free for years now. Worth checking into…


  10. It’s been while since I posted here, so a few words of progress with my propolis ticture.

    Essentailly, I do not clean the propolis before using it, as the final solution will be filtered through chenistry-grade filter paper (coffe filter paper is also ok).

    Once made, using 25% raw propolis to 75% alcohol (by wieght or volume – I don’t get to stressed),, the mixure is left in a dark drawer and shaken each day (memory not withstanding, then filtered off into a sterile glass jar.

    I have bought some 15mil and 25mil brown glass jars, with dropper-stoppers or old-fashioned droppers, and I have been selling my brew to those in the know (word of mouth).

    Self and partner also use my tincture in honey on an almost daily basis. I am very fari skinned, and found I suited 4-5 drops of tincture in half a teaspoon of honey, whereas my partner likes 6-7 drops. I sir th tincture into the honey to make an emulsion (changes to a light creamy texture), adn take this on the tongue, swirling about the mouth. YUM!

    NO HEAT used to make same, as heat kills the goodies.

    I have also tired making a recipe a with the tincture, I found on line (and have lost) for treating piles (bum balloons), and I used this creme exclusively on other parts of my bodyand found that I have made quite a lovely ‘bee-sting’ lip balm – very noticeable, though after 16 hours, one’s aged lips tend to deflate like a pricked balloon.

    The same pot of crfme is also a gerat general ointment. This week, my dog lightly scratched my papery skin across the back of my hand, barely drawing blood. I applied a line of the creme and within 1 hour, most of the skin was rejoined.

    I sent a small pot of my creme to a dying friend with ‘bed sores’ and will see him in 2 weeks (if he lasts that long), when I will make sure the ung is used regulalry, and i’ll also dose him up wtih the tinctue and honey mix.

    By the way, our honey is all cold-extracted.

    I’m still on the hunt for other recipes using either raw propolis or propolis tincture.


    • Hi Kifcat!
      Thank you so much for all the excellent advice about propolis tincture. Having had nearly two years in a beeless state I haven’t been able to get any further on this, but I have now got a swarm and my fist priority will be to build them up I have been advised to remove the queen, but I am useless at finding her. So I have divided the combs into two and put in with a nuc as well as the main hive.
      I am having a rotten time at work right now but am about to start on several weeks leave before going part time. That should leave more time for doing some of the things I enjoy. About time too!

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