Plant Origin of Green Propolis: Bee Behavior, Plant Anatomy and Chemistry
Érica Weinstein Teixeira1,
Renata M.S.A. Meira3,
Dejair Message4 and
1Agência Paulista de Tecnologia dos Agronegócios/SAA-SP Pindamonhangaba, SP, Brazil,
2University of São Paulo, Institute of Biosciences, Department of Botany São Paulo, SP, Brazil,
3Viçosa Federal University, Department of Plant Biology Viçosa, MG, Brazil, and
4Viçosa Federal University, Department of Animal Biology Viçosa, MG, Brazil
Open Access Article from eCAM 2005 2(1):85-92, originally published by Oxford University Press.
Propolis, a honeybee product, has gained popularity as a foodand alternative medicine. Its constituents have been shown toexert pharmacological effects, such as anti-microbial, anti-inflammatoryand anticancer. Shoot apices of Baccharis dracunculifolia (alecrimplant, Asteraceae) have been pointed out as sources of resinfor green propolis. The present work aimed (i) to observe thecollecting behavior of bees, (ii) to test the efficacy of histologicalanalysis in studies of propolis botanical origin and (iii) tocompare the chemistries of alecrim apices, resin masses andgreen propolis. Bee behavior was observed, and resin and propoliswere microscopically analyzed by inclusion in methacrylate.Ethanol extracts of shoot apices, resin and propolis were analyzedby gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy. Bees cut small fragmentsfrom alecrim apices, manipulate and place the resulting massin the corbiculae. Fragments were detected in propolis and identifiedas alecrim vestiges by detection of alecrim structures. Prenylatedand non-prenylated phenylpropanoids, terpenoids and compoundsfrom other classes were identified. Compounds so far unreportedfor propolis were identified, including anthracene derivatives.Some compounds were found in propolis and resin mass, but notin shoot apices. Differences were detected between male andfemale apices and, among apices, resin and propolis. Alecrimapices are resin sources for green propolis. Chemical compositionof alecrim apices seems to vary independently of season andphenology. Probably, green propolis composition is more complexand unpredictable than previously assumed.
Keywords: africanized Apis mellifera – anthracene derivatives – Baccharis dracunculifolia – dehydrocostus lactone – prenylated phenylpropanoids