Skip to main content
  • Research note
  • Open access
  • Published:

Mangifera indica as propolis source: what exactly do bees collect?



The mango tree Mangifera indica is known as one of the botanical sources of propolis in Tropical regions. There are two different materials which bees can collect from a mango tree to produce propolis: the resin of the tree bark, and the latex found on the fruits. We performed the study of the chemical profile of mango resin in comparison with propolis in order to clarify its importance as propolis source.


We compared the chemical profiles (by GC–MS analysis of ethanol extracts after silylation) of the resin and samples of propolis: of stingless bees (3 Vietnames, 2 Indonesian), and one of Apis mellifera from Thailand. In the resin and all propolis samples, 25 compounds were identified: fatty acids, cardanols (alk(en)yl phenols), cardols, anacardic acids, triterpene alcohols and ketones, cycloartane type triterpenic acids. All samples have the same qualitative composition but there are important quantitative differences. Considering literature data on mango latex, we conclude that bees of different species, make use of the two propolis sources offered by mango: bark resin and fruit latex, in different proportions. We also confirmed for the first time the presence of alk(en)yl phenols and anacardic acids in the tree bark resin of mango.


The mango tree Mangifera indica L. has been recognized as propolis botanical source in 2005 [1]. There are communications reporting propolis of both European honey bees Apis mellifera and stingles bees Meliponini, originating from mango trees in numerous tropical countries in Africa [2, 3], the Americas [4,5,6], Southeast Asia [7,8,9], and even Oceania [10]. These reports are based on the identification of mango chemical markers in the corresponding propolis samples. There are two structural groups of such markers: the cycloartane type triterpenes cycloartenol, mangiferolic, isomangiferolic, and ambolic acids; and the group of phenolic lipids, mainly cardols (alk(en)yl resorcinols) [11, 12].

Studying propolis, some authors have found the abovementioned cycloartanes (but not any phenolic lipids), and based on these findings they concluded that Mangifera indica L. was the main plant source of the studied samples [1, 8, 13, 14]. Others have identified only the cardols, no cycloartane acids, and made the same conclusion [4, 15]. In these cases, the respective compounds have been isolated, purified and identified by spectral methods. A third group of studies, which have applied chemical profiling by hyphenated techniques, report the identification of both groups of markers [2, 7, 9]. It turns out that mango propolis contains cycloartanes, as well as phenolic lipids.

Obviously, the source plant of this propolis type is confirmed to be M. indica beyond doubt. However, there are two different materials which bees can collect from a mango tree in order to produce propolis: the reddish-brown resin which appears on the tree bark, and the latex found on the fruits. Both materials have been chemically studied. The resin has been found to contain triterpenes, mainly cycloartanes [13], and cardols have also been reported [4]. The latex, on the other hand, contains monoterpenes with typical raw mango aroma [16, 17], cardols [18,19,20], carbohydrates, and small amounts of proteins [21, 22]. No triterpenes have been detected in latex, although several detailed studies have been carried out. So, we studied the chemical profile of mango resin in order to clarify its importance as propolis source.

Main text


Sample collection

Resin sample was collected in Mai Chau village, Hoa Binh province, designated as sample 1. Details on propolis samples are presented in Table 1.

Table 1 Propolis samples

Sample preparation and GC–MS analysis

The resin sample 1 and crude propolis samples 2–4 were extracted with 70% ethanol (1:10, w/v) at room temperature for 24 h (2 times). After evaporation in vacuo, the dry extracts were silylated: about 5 mg dry extract was mixed with 50 μL of dry pyridine and 75 μL of N,O-bis(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA). The GC–MS analysis was performed with Hewlett-Packard 5890 series II Plus, linked to a Hewlett–Packard 5972 mass spectrometer system equipped with a 30 m DB-17HT capillary column, 0.25 mm i.d., 0.15 µm film thickness. The temperature program from 100 to 320 °C at a rate of 5 °C/min; carrier gas Helium at a flow rate of 0.8 mL/min. The split ratio was 75:1, the injector temperature 300 °C, and the ionization voltage 70 eV.

Compound identification and quantitation

The compounds identification was accomplished using commercial libraries, literature data, and/or comparison with mass spectra and retention times of reference compounds. The amounts of components of the propolis extracts were determined by considering their areas as the percentage of the total ion current. The ion currents generated depend on the characteristics of the compound and for this reason are regarded semiquantitative but allow comparison between samples.

Results and discussion

In order to clarify the role of mango tree bark resin as propolis source, we compared the chemical profiles (by GC–MS analysis of ethanol extract after silylation) of the resin and three samples stingless bees propolis from Vietnam. In the resin, 25 compounds were identified: 2 fatty acids, 6 cardanols (alk(en)yl phenols), 4 cardols (alk(en)yl resorcinols), 2 anacardic acids, 8 triterpene alcohols and ketones, and 3 cycloartane type triterpenic acids (Table 2). All these compounds were present in the Vietnamese stingless bees propolis samples. In all samples, the main cardanols were heptadecenyl and nonadecenyl phenol; major cardol was heptadecenyl resorcinol, and most abundant triterpenes were cycloartenol, mangiferolic and isomangiferolic acid. The results of the GC–MS analysis are represented on Fig. 1 for the abovementioned 6 groups of compounds.

Table 2 Compounds identified in all studied samples
Fig. 1
figure 1

Chemical profiles of the studied resin and propolis samples

The results were compared with our data from earlier studies of Indonesian stingless bees propolis [23] and Thai A. mellifera propolis [9], classified as Mangifera type. The same 25 constituents have been identified in these samples, too. The quantitative data of these samples for the respective compound groups are also displayed in Fig. 1.

It is important to note that cardanols and anacardic acids were found in mango tree bark resin for the first time in our study. The resin, and propolis of different bee species and different locations have the same qualitative composition. However, there are quantitative differences and especially in the ratio phenolic lipids/triterpenes (PL/TT). This ratio is higher than 1 (1.2–1.6) in the three Vietnamese propolis samples and the Thai A. mellifera propolis. It is however 0.7 for the resin, and 0.5 and 0.7 for the Indonesian propolis. It is noteworthy that the Vietnamese propolis samples come from three distinct regions of the country but are similar in their profiles, and differ quantitatively from the resin profile. On the other hand, Indonesian samples are closer to the mango resin profile, although the resin was collected in Vietnam. One possible explanation could be the collection by bees of both the available mango exudates: the tree bark resin and the fruit latex, depending on their availability and bees’ preferences. In cases where the latex prevails, ratio PL/TT > 1 can be observed, while where PL/TT < 1 more resin than latex has been foraged by bees.

In conclusion, our study demonstrates that bees of different species, including stingless and A. mellifera bees, can make use of the two propolis sources offered by Mangifera indica, bark resin and fruit latex, in different proportions. We also confirmed for the first time the presence of alk(en)yl phenols and anacardic acids in the tree bark resin of mango.

Limitations of the study

The mango resin sample was not collected in the vicinity of the bees’ nests. Another limitation is the lack of mango latex for comparative study.

Availability of data and materials

The dataset of the current study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.





Gas chromatograpy–mass spectrometry


Phenolic lipids




  1. Silva MDSSD, Citó AMDGL, Chaves MH, Lopes JAD. Cycloartane triterpenoids of propolis from Teresina-PI. Qum Nova. 2005;28(5):801–4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Kardar MN, Zhang T, Coxon GD, Watson DG, Fearnley J, Seidel V. Characterisation of triterpenes and new phenolic lipids in Cameroonian propolis. Phytochemistry. 2014;106:156–63.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Popova M, Dimitrova R, Al-Lawati HT, Tsvetkova I, Najdenski H, Bankova V. Omani propolis: chemical profiling, antibacterial activity and new propolis plant sources. Chem Cent J. 2013;7(1):1–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Herrera-López MG, Rubio-Hernández EI, Richomme P, Schinkovitz A, Calvo-Irabién LM, Rodríguez LMP. Resorcinolic lipids from Yucatecan propolis. J Braz Chem Soc. 2020;31:186–92.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Gallardo DG, Fajardo M, Alonso YN, Echemendía LSM, Copello JM. Physical-chemical characterization and thin layer chromatographic comparison of a local propolis with the Mangifera indica resin. Pharm Biosci J. 2020;8(1):15–21.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Nina N, Quispe C, Jiménez-Aspee F, Theoduloz C, Giménez A, Schmeda-Hirschmann G. Chemical profiling and antioxidant activity of Bolivian propolis. J Sci Food Agric. 2016;96(6):2142–53.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Trusheva B, Popova M, Koendhori EB, Tsvetkova I, Naydenski C, Bankova V. Indonesian propolis: chemical composition, biological activity and botanical origin. Nat Prod Res. 2011;25(6):606–13.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Pujirahayu N, Suzuki T, Katayama T. Cycloartane-type triterpenes and botanical origin of propolis of stingless Indonesian bee Tetragonula sapiens. Plants. 2019;8(3):57.

    Article  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  9. Sanpa S, Popova M, Tunkasiri T, Eitssayeam S, Bankova V, Chantawannakul P. Chemical profiles and antimicrobial activities of Thai propolis collected from Apis mellifera. Chiang Mai J Sci. 2017;44:438–48.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Trusheva B, Stancheva K, Gajbhiye N, Dimitrova R, Popova M, Saraf R, Bankova V. Two new prenylated stilbenes with an irregular sesquiterpenyl side chain from propolis from Fiji Islands. Rec Nat Prod. 2016;10(4):465.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Escobedo-Martínez C, Concepción Lozada M, Hernández-Ortega S, Villarreal ML, Gnecco D, Enríquez RG, Reynolds W. 1H and 13C NMR characterization of new cycloartane triterpenes from Mangifera indica. Magn Reson Chem. 2012;50(1):52–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Ediriweera MK, Tennekoon KH, Samarakoon SR. A review on ethnopharmacological applications, pharmacological activities, and bioactive compounds of Mangifera indica (Mango). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017: 6949835.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. Li F, Awale S, Zhang H, Tezuka Y, Esumi H, Kadota S. Chemical constituents of propolis from Myanmar and their preferential cytotoxicity against a human pancreatic cancer cell line. J Nat Prod. 2009;72(7):1283–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Nguyen HX, Nguyen MT, Nguyen NT, Awale S. Chemical constituents of propolis from Vietnamese Trigona minor and their antiausterity activity against the PANC-1 human pancreatic cancer cell line. J Nat Prod. 2017;80(8):2345–52.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Negri G, Silva CCF, Coelho GR, Nascimento RMD, Mendonça RZ. Cardanols detected in non-polar propolis extracts from Scaptotrigona aff. postica (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini). Braz J Food Technol. 2019;22:e2018265.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Musharraf SG, Uddin J, Siddiqui AJ, Akram MI. Quantification of aroma constituents of mango sap from different Pakistan mango cultivars using gas chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. Food Chem. 2016;196:1355–60.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. John KS, Rao LJM, Bhat SG, Rao UP. Characterization of aroma components of sap from different Indian mango varieties. Phytochemistry. 1999;52(5):891–4.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Bandyopadhyay C, Gholap AS, Mamdapur VR. Characterization of alkylresorcinol in mango (Mangifera indica L.) latex. J Agric Food Chem. 1985;33:377–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kumpoun W, Uthaibutra J, Boonyakiat D. Antifungal compound content in mango latex at different maturity stages. Acta Hortic. 2008;804:303–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Hassan MK, Irving DE, Dann EK, Coates LM, Hofman PJ. Sap properties and alk (en) ylresorcinol concentrations in Australian-grown mangoes. Ann Appl Biol. 2009;154(3):419–27.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. John KS, Bhat SG, Rao UP. Biochemical characterization of sap (latex) of a few Indian mango varieties. Phytochemistry. 2003;62(1):13–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Karunanayake KOLC. A qualitative analysis of mango (Mangifera indica L.) latex and anatomy of latex canals. J Sci. 2019;10(2):11–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Fikri AM, Popova M, Sulaeman A, Bankova V. Stingless bees and Mangifera indica: a close relationship? Indian J Nat Prod Resour. 2020;11(2):130–4.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors are thankful to Assoc. Prof. Daniela Antonova, PhD for running the GCMS analyses.


The study was funded by Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology through a bilateral project, Code Number QTBG01.01/20-21.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Conceptualization, VB and MP; methodology, MP; investigation, NI, BT, MP; resources, LNT, NTPL; writing—original draft preparation, VB; writing—review and editing MP, LNT, BT; project administration, VB. All authors have read and approved the fial manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vassya Bankova.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent to publish

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Popova, M., Trusheva, B., Ilieva, N. et al. Mangifera indica as propolis source: what exactly do bees collect?. BMC Res Notes 14, 448 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: