I get asked quite frequently to explain the process for manufacturing bee products from start to finish. Many people ask to tour the facility to see the equipment in operation. So here’s a (not too detailed) explanation of how your favorite bee products come to be.
It all starts with extracting the raw ingredients from the beehive, and each of the four main ingredients requires a very different approach. Most people have seen the process for extracting honey, beeswax and bee pollen, where smoke is injected into the hive to reduce the activity of the bees during the extraction process. This allows the bee farmer to collect the ingredients with minimal opposition from its providers!
Honey – once collected it is simply filtered to remove debris and is then ready for further packaging or dehydration. If it’s to be converted into powder form for encapsulating then it’s subjected to a cold air process where the water content is removed, much like bee pollen and royal jelly.
Bee Pollen – again, the raw pollen granules are sifted to remove wings, plant life and other debris, then dehydrated through different stages. A low-level dehydration is required when the product is being packaged as granules, a higher level when making powder. It is important to use cold air evaporation and not subject the pollen to heat.
Royal Jelly – this can spoil very quickly so there’s a short time-frame to dehydrate the liquid via a cold air process called lyophilization. We cover this in various places around the website including here.
Propolis -provides a rich and beneficial source of bioflavonoids and is extracted using a food grade non alcohol compound or for tincture applications it can be extracted using a food grade alcohol base. This results in a very dark sticky substance which is then further processed to remove moisture, until it becomes a powder.
Once the various powders are created they are ground to produce finer particles prior to capsulation. After grinding, they have natural excipients added to prevent clogging and ease flow through in the capsulating process. If the powders are to be blended together, then the required quantities are measured and they are added to an industrial mixer to ensure a complete and even quantity of powders is present in each capsule.
The finished powder is then placed on the capsulating press where the powders are enclosed in a two piece shell.
After capsulation the finished capsules pass through the bottling machine, followed by labeling and external shrink-wrapping.
Samples are pulled from each stage of the process to run through the lab to ensure standards are adhered to. With both the incoming raw material and the final powder, we check for contaminants, potency and other tests to ensure the integrity of the final product.
Each batch is entered into the computer system along with its Certificate of Analysis and given a batch number which is truncated and printed on the bottle label or bottle base.