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Propolis Problems in The USA


I have yet to start my Flow hives here in Northwest Florida choosing instead to start 2 traditional Langstroth hives as part of my learning curve. But many of the old-time beekeepers in our local association are looking forward to my starting because they all think they will fail.

The main reason they say is that the system was developed and tested in Australia where the bees do not make propolis like the bees in this part of the world. They all believe that the bees will use the propolis to seal up the mechanism and even the comb in some areas therefore freezing up the ability to “break” the comb for harvest. I the pine belt down the propolis is supposed to be the worst.

Since this is probably the first season for any beekeepers in the USA to use the system I’d like to know what folks are seeing and experiencing. Any problems with propolis?


Well I live in Australia and the bees here certainly will use propolis in the hive, however they have not put any propolis on the flow frames just the gaps in the hive boxes. Similar in the honey supers, propolis is used to glue the frames to the hive boxes but not anywhere near the honey. As for the mechanism, it is not accessible by the bees. So I think these guys are talking through their hat.


OK. Something learned. So is propolis in Aus of different consistency, tackiness, and hardness? Does it vary from region to region? The old guys here claim our propolis is so tenacious because of the pine trees. They have even said the eucalyptus over there does make a propolis. But know you have pine tees there. I’ve seen them all over the islands in the Caribbean. LOL!!!


We definitely have pine trees but not like yours, and the eucalyptus are known as Gum Trees for a good reason, they produce a tacky resin which makes excellent bee propolis. Time will tell but from my experience I do get a lot of propolis in the caucasion hives, italians are less so. That aside, I don’t think you will encounter any issues with your Flow frames so you can rest easy.


Awesome thanks Rodderick. I’ll be happy to show them all how smart I am.

You know as a newbie to the art I’d be a fool not to listen to these guys. But, like everything else in life; trust but verify!

Oh yea, and what is the one about what everyone’s opinions are like?


I have found that many old beekeepers are highly competitive and while they will talk your ear off about beekeeping, its not always the right advice, they like to keep the secrets of their success to themselves.


Our friendly local beekeeper said it was funny that people collect and get excited about ‘pure natural’ propolis: when the bees make it out of whatever they can find: including bitumen! I don’t know if that’s true or not. What I do know is that our Australian bees do produce plenty of sticky propolis- and that they did deposit some on the flow frames already. It didn’t seem to have any negative affect on the frames yet.


lovely photo Michelle


Thanks Michelle,

Can you (and any others) send some photos of your Flow frames with the propolis in them for us please?

That way I can have proof when I show these guys.

Have you harvested yet. I suppose so if that is your frame that the lovely picture is from!


Yea. That is really sad. But I’m no commercial competition for sure. Just a backyard hobbyist.

However you would not believe the stories I am hearing recently about competition for the Tupelo forage in our region. Everything from theft of hives by the semi-truckload to bull-dozing neighboring hives and poisoning other’s honey.

But I guess when you can sell a drum of Tupelo honey for $10,000.USD there are bound to be criminals involved.


Wow … whats so special about Tupelo? I hear this sort of thing happening from across the Tasman in New Zealand over Manuka Honey, is this something similar?


This the only photo I have- this is about 6 weeks after the frames were installed- you can see the proplis where our hive mat covers the frames. We removed the frames for winter 6 weeks later and there is now more propolis in various places- notably the small caps between the cell columns at the bottom channel, and one the edges of the end faces of the frames. I am not worried. perhaps after a few seasons they made need some cleaning- maybe freezing, tapping- tooth brush scrubbing, maybe, maybe not.


Thank you. I look forward to seeing more from others hopefully.
You guys are in winter down there now but did everyone have a good harvest from the Flow Frames?


we only had our flow frames on for a few moths at the end of the season- and only started our hive mid-summer. We managed to harvest 16Kg’s of really, really good honey. We nearly got another 6 Kg’s but the last few frames were not fully capped so we drained them and kept the nectar to feed to the bees. Looking forward to Spring!


well that’s easy: Van Morrison made a song about it:

and Peter Fonda starred in the film Ulee’s Gold- about a beekeeper who makes Tupelo Honey:

other than that: I am guessing it is delicious.


I would put it on in a flow and take it off when the flow is over. But no, I’ve had no problems with propolis. This is my third year using Flow frames.


Yes. Tupleo (nyssa sylvatica) has a very unique flavor with a wafting of almost sharp, floral aroma on your palate as a fine wine does. Some describe it as hoppy. It is well known for its resistant to crystallization.The Tupelo, to my knowledge, only grows in the southeast but is concentrated in the Chatahoochee/Appalachicola and Choctawhatchee River’s Basin’s in Northwest Florida, southern Alabama, and Georgia.

I grew up on it so it is what honey is supposed to taste like in my mind. Some vendors are selling it online for as much as $40 USD per .lb! At our local association Monday evening we were told of producer that sold multiple 50 gallon drums for $10,500 USD each. About $18.USD/lb! It is unique and worth trying.

ULEE’S GOLD was actually filmed in the town of Appalachicola and my mentor now was, at the time the assistant Chief Apiary Inspector for the State of Florida and was a consultant on the film.


Mr Bush,

Thank you. I always value your input. You are in one of the Plains States right? Nebraska? Iowa?
So you say remove the FLOW FRAMEs after harvest? Then what? Put something else on for them build winter stores on?



I put that on before the flow frames and leave it on when I remove the flow frames. I have five eight frame medium boxes on before the flow frames. I remove the flow frames for winter and I may, depending on the size of the cluster, take one of the medium boxes and redistribute that honey to those hives that are light.


Very Good. Thank you.