How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to make a tincture with Propolis

Propolis? What is that? When I put a picture on FB a few weeks ago my friends were puzzled and thought it was dog poop. Propolis is actually a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is sticky. When bees mix the propolis with enzymes they secrete, it creates a form of defense (antibody) that acts against viruses, fungi, and bacteria. Propolis is now believed to:

  1. Reinforce the structural stability of the hive
  2. Reduce vibration
  3. Make the hive more defensible by sealing alternate entrance
  4. Prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive, and to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth
  5. Prevent putrefaction within the hive. Bees usually carry waste out of and away from the hive. However, if a small lizard or mouse finds its way into the hive, the bees may be unable to carry it out through the hive entrance. In that case, they would attempt instead to seal the carcass in propolis, essentially mummifying it and making it odorless and harmless.

Propolis is valuable both internally and externally. It has excellent antiseptic properties. It can be used either dry or as a tincture. A tincture is something dissolved in Alcohol. I am making a 10% tincture. I started with 1 part propolis to 9 parts alcohol. Propolis is entirely insoluble in water, but will dissolve readily in strong alcohol. I picked up Everclear which is approximately 70% alcohol. I froze my propolis so that it would be less sticky and hard. I was then able to grind it up into smaller pieces. I placed those pieces in a mason jar with Everclear. On a daily basis I have been shaking the bottle with the propolis and alcohol. It has been in a dark cupboard for several weeks. Today I am ready to bottle my Tincture of Propolis.

Propolis tincture makes an excellent “Liquid Bandage.” Simply apply a few drops topically around a wound. It is highly antimicrobial; it stimulates immune activity and encourages rapid healing. Like honey, propolis has potent antimicrobial action against H. pylori, and is also among the better remedies for addressing cold and canker sores. Propolis is exceptionally nutritious: “Propolis has more bioflavinoids than oranges…it contains all the known vitamins except vitamin K and all the minerals needed by the body except sulphur.”

Here is a little poem from “Psalms from the Hive” by Jeannie Saum

“Turning propolis, sticky goo
Into something good for you
Is ever so rewarding.
Hard work and messy
But in the end a blessing.”

Ok I just bottled the tincture. I have to say that it is not really that tasty. It does have a resin quality to it. If you can get over the taste scientists believe it is the “perfect medicine.”

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