ee pollen is got from honey bees that belong to the genus Apis of the bee family.
Honey bees form a small part of the 20,000 known Apis species.
At present, there are only 7 honey bee species known to exist around the world with 44 sub-species.
Bee pollen is a blend of different pollens that bees pick up as they fly from flower to flower.
Bee pollen is used as a popular folk remedy for various health problems – e.g. enlarged prostate and PMS.
It is also popularly marketed as an energy tonic. There are no specific food sources for bee pollen. The only source is the pollen itself.
Bee pollen is either deep orange, light yellow or brown in color. Sometimes it could have tinges of green or red too.
This is a natural product got from beehives and hence caution must be exercised by those who suffer from allergies – especially to plant pollens.
Regions where Bee Pollen is Found
The following are some of the regions around the world where the honey bee population is found.
- Eastern honey bee (3-4 subspecies) found in Hong Kong, Borneo, eastern and southern Asia, and the Philippines
- Common / Western / European honey bee (Apis Mellifera) that had its origins in eastern tropical Africa. From there it spread to North Europe, eastern Asia and on to Tien Shan Range. This is the most common domesticated honey bee species.
- European honey comes from Tanzania in eastern Africa.
- Honey bees were first introduced to the Americas by European colonists who brought the dark bee, Italian bees, and o, hers to the colonies. Escaped swarms of bees spread throughout the Great Plains.
- Mormon pioneers brought honey bees to California and Utah.
- Africanized bees are a cross between African and European subspecies. They are very aggressive and spread to North America from Brazil. Novel hybrid strains of this species are popular among Brazilian beekeepers.
Bee Pollen Extraction
Honey bees travel within a 2-mile radius, from flower to flower, to collect nectar. Each honey bee has hairs on its hind legs.
When the bee walks on the flowers, the pollen gets stuck in tiny balls on these hairs.
Bee pollen is extracted by beekeepers who keep many beehives.
These beehives contain a large (brood) chamber with several supers (smaller chambers) stacked above this.
The queen bee lays eggs in the brood chamber. Bees store honey in the supers and brood chamber. Pollen traps are set in each hive.
These traps extricate the pollen from the legs of the bees and the granules collect in a tray at the bottom.
As the honey bee crawls up the hive, pollen also gets scraped off and falls into the tray. When the tray is full the beekeeper will remove it.
This natural, pure and unprocessed bee pollen is sifted to remove non-pollen particles like hair, wings or legs of the honey bee. The pure pollen is then frozen and sold.
Nutritional Value of Bee Pollen
Here are some details on the nutritional value of bee pollen. Bee pollen is extremely nutrient dense and contains the best natural food source of vitamins.
It also contains 25% proteins and is low in sodium and fat.
The following is the nutritional composition of pure bee pollen. It contains vitamins such as Provitamin A, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, Pantothenic acid, vitamin D, E, K, H, folic acid, rutin, inositol, and choline.
The minerals found in bee pollen include phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iodine, zinc, copper,
sodium, sulfur, magnesium, chlorine, manganese, selenium, molybdenum, silica, boron and titanium.
Overall, bee pollen has at least 18 vitamins, 22 amino acids, 25 minerals, 59 trace elements, 25% protein, 11 carbohydrates, 14 fatty acids and 11 enzymes.
It is very high in carotenes and contains 50% more proteins than beef with very minimal fat.
Hence, it can be an excellent vegetarian protein food source for it has more amino acids than dairy products, meats, and eggs.
Cooked meats, vegetables and fruits lose their enzymes since they are exposed to heat. Bee pollen, on the other hand, retains all its nutrients when consumed raw.
Even the best multivitamins do not have the superior nutrient content of bee pollen.
As we see, bee pollen contains a vitamin called rutin it is the richest source of this vitamin and many nutritionists suggest taking bee pollen at least for the benefits that rutin provides. Rutin helps with strengthening capillaries.
For any food source to be considered good, it must exceed at least 10% DV (Recommended Daily Value). 1 tbsp bee pollen gives 13% DV of copper and vitamin C.
Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, wound healing and helps with the proper functioning of the immune system.
Copper is considered an essential trace mineral and is needed for optimal functioning of the cardiovascular and skeletal systems and is also needed for collage production and to absorb and release iron.
A serving of 1 tsp bee pollen gives 16 calories, 1 oz provides 89 calories and 100g gives 314 calories. The calorie breakdown for 1tsp bee pollen is 55% from carbohydrates, 31% from protein and 14% from fat.
Best Way to Have Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is available as tablets, gelatin capsules and raw granules in health food stores.
Any form of bee pollen takes around 2 hours to get absorbed by the body and enter the bloodstream.
Tablets and capsules usually contain 500-1000mg bee pollen. Raw granules are sold by the pound or ounce while capsules and tablets are sold in bottles, each normally containing 100 counts.
It is usually recommended that you start with a small dose and slowly increase it if you do not display any allergic symptoms.
Read: How to take Bee Pollen
Benefits of Bee Pollen
Read a detailed article on health benefits here>
Bee pollen has been promoted as a nutritional supplement for various ailments.
Although there is not much scientific evidence about its benefits, a few small studies have found that bee pollen could reduce PMS symptoms, side effects of cancer therapies like radiation and provide benefits for men with an enlarged prostate.
More studies are required to substantiate these theories.
Bee pollen is also supposed to have many other uses. It is said to improve alertness in people who suffer a lot of mental stress by relieving brain fatigue.
Stress uses up vitamins in the body and these vitamins and nutrients can be replaced by consuming bee pollen. It also helps build the immune system by flushing out harmful toxins and poisonous materials from the body.
Athletes and others who undergo strenuous exercise are known to include bee pollen as part of their diet regimen for it helps to improve endurance and help heart rates to return to normal after exercise.
Anyone with poor metabolism can benefit from lecithin found in bee pollen.
This helps to increase the rate at which calories get burned by the body. When bee pollen is taken along with kelp - seaweed that grows in shallow oceans - it can increase blood pressure, sexual functioning and hormonal levels.
Possible side effects
Unless a person is allergic to plant pollens or bee stings, most people do not suffer any serious side effects from taking bee pollen.
Since it is rich in so many nutrients, it can be a safe energy supplement for most.
Read: Bee Pollen Side Effects and Precautions
In the end..
Given that it is rich in vitamins E and C, it is a powerful anti-oxidant. So, find out ways in which you can consume this ‘nature’s perfect food’ and enjoy its benefits.