Glossary

Words from the bee's world...

A 

AB

Label issued by the ECOCERT organisation in France (among others) identifying products from Organic Farming.  Food products are considered to be organic when 95% of their ingredients are organically produced.

Abeille, Sentinelle de l'Environnement

Created by UNAF in 2005, the "Abeille, Sentinelle de l'Environnement" programme brings together public and private partners to inform and raise the awareness of the general public about the essential role bees play in Biodiversity.

ALS

Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate - See Surfactant.

Apitherapy

The etymology of the word is self-explanatory and means "therapy by bees". It covers the use of all beehive products (propolis, honey, wax, royal jelly, pollen and even bee venom) for our well-being and is probably as old as beekeeping itself.

Asian hornet

Also known as the yellow-legged hornet, it Asian hornet (vespa velutina) is about 3cm long. It is a natural honeybee predator and is very dangerous for its colonies. The European bee has no defence against this predator.

B 

Bee

The European bee (Apis Mellifera) is a major pollinator and our French beekeepers'friend. It produces Honey, Propolis, Royal Jelly and more. Considered "semi-domesticated", its social behaviour fascinates many amateurs and scientists. If you are afraid of bees, don't hesitate to talk to your local beekeeper. They will share their love for this insect which is so important to our biodiversity!

Best Before Date

The Best Before Date is the date through which a product maintains all of its properties. Eating a product after its Best Before Date is not dangerous. A distinction must be made with the Use By Date, which is applied to perishable foodstuff. 

Bioavailability

A pharmacological term that defines the proportion of an active ingredient that enters the bloodstream unchanged. In other words, this is the availability of the active ingredient for the body.  Laboratoires APIMAB has been working to adapt the galenic forms of Propolia products to enable the Propolis extracts to make their active ingredients more available for the body.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the natural diversity of living organisms. It is based on the fundamental concept of interactions between ecosystems, species and genes. As a major pollinator, bees are considered to be a "sentinel" for biodiversity because they play a major role in the natural development of plant species and, by extension, of the species that depend on them. 

Popular belief attributes the following statement to Einstein: "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left." It's unlikely that the eminent scientist actually said those words, but their symbolism is not diminished by that fact and their truth is very likely...

Bronchitis

Most often caught in the Fall and Winter, this inflammation of the bronchi causes breathing difficulties and some fatigue. It is usually caused by a virus.

Brood

In a hive, the brood consists of all of the colony's eggs and larvae. They are protected and pampered by the worker bees, called nurse bees, which feed them during their development stage (six days).

C 

Cosmebio

The largest professional ecological and organic cosmetics association in France. It has created the charter of the same name which is intended to provide consumers with a guarantee about the ecological and organic quality of labelled products.

Cosmetics

The EU monitors cosmetic products which it defines as follows:

"Cosmetic product" means any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours."

E 

ECOCERT

ECOCERT is a certification body approved by the government. It is a precursor organisation which, in the 1990s, contributed to the definition of the legislation in effect for organic farming. It issues the AB (organic farming) and Cosmebio certifications. 

Emulsifier

Mixing and shaking two liquids which normally don't mix creates an emulsion (for example, vinegar and oil). However, over time, the two liquids return to their normal state creating two layers called phases. This occurs when formulating products (particularly cosmetics), which is harmful to the quality of the product texture. In order to avoid this situation, a third substance called an emulsifier is used (either synthetic or natural). It maintains the emulsion over time.

Essential oil

Essential oils are primarily obtained by distilling flowers, barks and whole fruit. Their benefits are as varied as their sources. They provide a concentrate of active substances (and aromatic compounds) found in plants. Their concentration makes them compounds of choice for perfumes, cosmetics and phytotherapeutic products.

Excipient

An excipient is a neutral substance which makes it easier to take medicines. Excipients change the form, taste and smell of products, but have no therapeutic effect themselves.  For example, they may be used as a base for a Propolis extract: at Propolia we normally use starch or alcohol.

F 

Fair trade

Fair trade consists in finding a good balance between the economy and social development. It involves reducing the number of intermediaries and/or reducing their margins. The approach is intended to ensure fair compensation for raw materials producers and good working conditions for workers.   Propolia works to implement fair trade by operating as a beekeeping cooperative to centralize French Propolis in exchange for financial support of its partner beekeepers.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are a category of molecules which naturally occur in many of the fruits and vegetables we eat (with grape and grapefruit seeds leading the way), and also in Propolis. Their type and concentration varies depending on location.

Flu

Flu is a viral illness which affects breathing and causes headaches, fever, backache and intense fatigue…It can be avoided via preventative methods and good hygiene practices.

G 

Galenic

The galenic form is the form chosen to ensure that the active substance of a product is made available: capsules, lozenges, tablets, syrups, creams, etc. are all formats selected and designed to release the active substances at the right time and to maximise their bioavailability for the body.

GMO

Genetically Modified Organism. While European and American definitions agree on the fact that a GMO is an organism whose genes have been modified by human intervention, Europe limits the definition to GMOs from genetic engineering (insertion of new genes by transgenesis), whereas the United States also includes cross-breeding resulting from artificial selection).

M 

Moisturiser

In the cosmetics field, a moisturiser is a product (cream, milk, lotion etc.) which prevents skin from drying by creating a hydrolipidic film. The film is removed by soap when washing and no longer provides natural skin protection.

N 

Neonicotinoids

See pesticides.

O 

Otorhinolaryngology

Otorhinolaryngology is a medical field which specializes in diagnosing and treating problems of the ears, nose and throat.

P 

PAO

Period After Opening: this acronym is used on cosmetic products. It is  symbolized by an open  container in which a number appears with the letter M. It informs users of the period during which the brand guarantees product quality after opening. For example, if "6M" appears on a product, it means that it can be used for six months after opening (given good storage conditions), with no loss of quality (texture, smell, effectiveness, etc.).

Pesticides

Pesticides are chemical substances (usually synthetic) used in farming to treat crops against pests (plants, insects, moulds, parasites, etc.). They are harmful to human health. One particular category of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, are neurotoxic and act on the nervous system of insects. Their high toxicity (8000 times more than DDT) is a major scourge for bees and has led to the collapse of colonies.  Following a public outcry in support of beekeepers and scientific consensus, Europe forbade the use of three neonicotinoids in 2013 (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam)...for a period of two years. Bees are, therefore, not safe from a return to the market of these scourges which we must be ready to mobilise against at all times. 

pH

Potential Hydrogen: the acidity or alkalinity of a product. In chemistry, a pH of 7 is considered neutral. The lower the number (less than 7), the more acid the product and, inversely, the higher the number (above 7), the more alkaline it is. In cosmetics, formulas are adapted to the different pH values of skin (which is usually between 5.2 and 7) which varies depending on the area of the body and the type of skin (for example, dry skin is more acidic).

Pollination

This is the process by which pollen is brought from the stamen (male plant organ) to the pistil (female organ). Pollination can be done by animals (including insects - entomophile pollination - which is the preferred reproductive method of flowering plants), wind (anemophilous) or water (hydrophilous). Today over 70% of our crops depend on pollination by insects of which bees are the leading group.

Preservatives

Food or cosmetic additives that preserve products over time, maintain taste, texture, smell and, potentially, effectiveness. High concentrations of some cosmetic preservatives (or extended exposure) can lead to skin sensitivity. Propolia products only use natural preservatives which are not very sensitising (our products are dermatologically tested before being launch on the market). Honey and Propolis are among these products.

S 

SLS

Sodium Laureth Sulphate - See Surfactant.

Sugar

Table sugar (sucrose) is primarily made from sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar is increasingly criticised for its negative effect on health (notably diabetes) and the environment (cutting of forests for sugar cane). It is being replaced by sweeteners and other saccharide compounds like glucose and fructose.

Surfactant

A compound used to change the tension between two surfaces thanks to its amphiphilic properties, that is, it can adapt to two different environments (such as oil and water).  For example, mustard is a surfactant which enables oil and vinegar to remain an emulsion. Surfactants have different functions depending on the application. In cosmetics, they are used as solubilisation, emulsifying and foaming agents. Some foaming surfactants such as SLS and ALS (sulphate surfactants most commonly used in cheaper personal care products) are damaging to the scalp and can be toxic in high doses. Propolia only uses mild surfactants in its 100% organic and natural personal care products for the comfort of your skin and to protect nature.

Sustainable development

Like fair trade, sustainable development consists in finding a good balance between economy and social needs...and environment. If represented using a Venn diagram, sustainable development would be at the intersection of these three facets of development. It is a very significant challenge for the planet, a long-term vision intended to meet current needs (those of the ecosystem, of the economy and of social interactions) without harming future generations.

Swarming

Swarming is a natural phenomenon of beehives and bee reproduction. When the need arises, a group of worker bees leave the mother hive with the queen to found a new colony.

Sweetener

The term sweetener refers to substance which create a sweet taste. Their relative sweetening power provides an alternative to sugar which is increasingly criticised.  The best-known sweeteners include aspartame, stevia, maple syrup and...honey!

T 

Trace elements

Trace elements are pure mineral elements whose absorption is necessary for organisms. They are very small nutriments that must be consumed in extremely small quantities every day to avoid any deficiency.

Trophallaxis

Trophallaxis is a method used by bees (and other social insects like ants) to transfer food. They store food in their crop (a second stomach) where it is pre-digested before being shared with another bee.

U 

UNAF

Union Nationale de l'Apiculture Française (National French Beekeeping Union) The national French union brings together the 22,000 beekeepers in France. It acts as their spokesperson and plays a preventative and educational role through Abeille Sentinelle de l'Environnement.

V 

Varroa

Originally from Asia where it lives in quasi symbiosis with the Asian bee (Apis cerana) the Varroa (Varroa destructor) is a parasitic mite which eats the haemolymph of bees and reproduces in its broods. While Apis cerana has learned to live with this mite, this is not the case for the European Apis melifera bee. The parasite is a deadly scourge which it cannot get rid of without the help of a treatment administered by beekeepers.