Autumn: the time for harvesting propolis
Autumn is prime propolis-harvesting time for many folks. Propolis has many uses and it can frequently be sold to companies who manufacture medicinal herbs and natural remedies.
If you are interested in harvesting propolis, it helps to have a contraption called a propolis trap. This re-usable, inexpensive object is nothing more than a plastic grid that looks a little like a queen excluder with smaller holes. It is used in place of an inner cover, just below the telescoping cover. The bees get annoyed by the small openings—which are too small for bee passage—so they fill them in with the gooey plant secretions we call propolis.
As any beekeeper knows, the consistency of propolis varies dramatically with temperature. When it is warm, it strings out like soft taffy. When it is cold, it gets brittle and breaks like glass. So after the bees fill in the empty spaces, the beekeeper pops the trap in the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, the plastic trap can be twisted and the propolis shatters out. Collect the shards quickly before they get warm and you’re done.
Personally, I don’t sell propolis or even collect it—I tend to wear it. Being a lightweight, I’m in the habit of bracing bee boxes against myself when they have to be moved or carried about. Consequently, I have horizontal brown stripes across many of my clothes—more of a merit badge than a fashion statement.
All my clothes are divided into two categories: those with propolis and those without. I turn all the decorated ones inside out before I launder them so the goo doesn’t stick to the inside of the dryer and transfer to everything I own. It’s kind of a problem and, for me, the less I have to deal with propolis the better.
But if you are inclined to collect the stuff, now is the time. The bees like to seal all the cracks and crevices before winter sets in, so now is the perfect opportunity to put your traps in place.