We all know that bees collect pollen don’t we, but have you ever thought about what it is exactly? Why do bees dedicate their lives to it? We also know that it gives some people hay fever but can pollen actually do us good too?
The answers and more about this precious substance in our short guide to bee pollen.
What is pollen?
Pollen is a fine, powdery, golden substance that comes from the male part of flowers on a plant. The microscopic particles can be dispersed through the air by the wind to fertilise the female flowers of other plants. It also attaches itself to bees as they move from flower to flower. Bees are responsible for pollinating over 90% of wild plants and a third of crops.
How do bees collect pollen?
The bee flies into the centre of the flower and scrapes off some of the pollen which it stores in the hairs on its legs in a part known as the ‘honey baskets’. It repeats this from flower to flower until the moistened, pressed down, collected pollen becomes a round granule.
What do bees use pollen for?
This is main food source for the hive as it is rich in protein and it’s used to feed the larva or baby bees. Nurse bees eat the pollen and turn it into ‘brood food’ for the growing new worker bees. Like honey, it is also stored for later use.
What is pollen made of?
Pollen is sometimes called a superfood – as well as protein, it contains over 200 other health-promoting substances like amino acids, essential fatty acids, a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, anti-oxidants, micronutrients and flavonoids. It cannot be made artificially and scientists still haven’t identified all its precious components.
What are the health benefits of pollen?
This powerhouse of nutrients sustains the life and growth of the bees and is considered one of nature’s complete foods. It has been used therapeutically by many ancient civilisations such as the Chinese, Romans and Egyptians. Hippocrates and Pythagoras prescribed bee pollen for its healing properties and it sustained Native Americans on long journeys.
Today it is used as a health supplement; studies and trials credit bee pollen as the root of many benefits including:Energy and stamina
The high levels of natural protein, that the body can absorb easily in this form, helps to build muscle tissue and aid in cell renewal. The British Sports council recorded a 40-50% increase in strength in athletes who had taken bee pollen regularly and it is used by Olympic athletes and bodybuilders to increase strength and endurance.Preventative medicine
Substances in pollen may stop the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut, having a balancing effect on the digestive system. There have been reports of people lowering their cholesterol levels when taking bee pollen.Anti-inflammatory and pain relief
Some studies indicate that bee pollen lessens pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties (reducing swelling) even in some cancer cases.Hormone regulation
Other areas where studies show encouraging signs and there is positive anecdotal is in the treatment of infertility (by stimulating the ovaries) and reducing the side effects of the menopause (such as hot flushes).Concentration and focus
Pollen is a rich source of vitamins B1, B2 and B3 which are essential for a healthy nervous system and brain.
How to eat bee pollen
You can eat bee pollen neat or put it in other foods. Start with a few granules and work up to a larger dose (one or two teaspoons). People with allergies to honey products or pollen should check with their doctor first. Add to smoothies, juices or salad dressings if you like. Try putting some in this delicious mango smoothie.
Where to get bee pollen?
At Balqees we get it direct from our trusted cooperatives of beekeepers who some attach a kind of mesh to the entrance to hives which collects some of the pollen when the bees enter. The beekeepers, through careful monitoring, gentle methods, and not collecting too much, ensure that this is harmless to the bees and that they retain more than enough to maintain a healthy hive.
Order Balqees bee pollen online here.