Plant origin of Okinawan propolis: honeybee behavior observation and phytochemical analysis
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Propolis is a natural resinous product collected by honeybees from certain plants. It has gained popularity as a food and alternative medicine. Poplar and Baccharis are well known as the source plants of European and Brazilian propolis, respectively. However, the propolis from Okinawa, Japan, contains some prenylflavonoids not seen in other regions such as Europe and Brazil, suggesting that the plant origin of Okinawan propolis is a particular plant that grows in Okinawa. To identify the plant origin of Okinawan propolis, we observed the behavior of honeybees as they collected material from plants and caulked it inside the hive. Honeybees scraped resinous material from the surface of plant fruits of Macaranga tanarius and brought it back to their hive to use it as propolis. We collected samples of the plant and propolis, and compared their constituents by high-performance liquid chromatography with a photo-diode array detector. We also compared their 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl radical scavenging activity. The chemical constituents and biological activity of the ethanol extracts of the plant did not differ from those of propolis. This indicates directly that the plant origin of Okinawan propolis is M. tanarius.
KeywordsApis mellifera Propolis Okinawa Plant origin Macaranga tanarius Prenylflavonoid
We thank Mr. Tsutomu Aragaki (Aragaki Beefarm Inc., Okinawa) for providing his apiary for our research. This work was supported by the Program for Creating Okinawa Innovation of Cabinet Office, Government of Japan and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
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