Pollen grains are small, male reproduction units (gametophytes) formed in the anthers of the higher flowering plants. One of the target foraging goods for field bee is the pollen.
Bees use pollen as a protein source in their diets and for feeding raising young brood. Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred onto the stigma of a flower. It can be aided by either wind, water or animals (mostly insects), among which bees are the most important ones.
So what is bee pollen?
Bee pollen is basically pollen grains collected by bees from the field. When bees are collecting pollen from the field, they use special brushes on their hind legs to brush the pollen into the pollen basket or the corbiculae. For the pollen to stick together in the corbiculae, they mix it with nectar or regurgitated honey, it thus forms into pellets. This is the bee pollen and may taste somehow sweet depending on the floral source.
This is a partially fermented pollen mixture stored by bees in the comb. It is the bee pollen from the field that bees have mixed with honey and water, and stored in the comb. It used to feed the young larvae and the young worker bees in the hive.
What is in bee pollen?
The chemical composition of pollen varies greatly among bee plants. Pollen from different regions, therefore, may show variation in quantities of the chemical constituents.
Major components of pollen include proteins and amino acids, lipids and sugars.
Minor components are diverse – essential amino acids, vitamins C, E, B complex (including, niacin, biotin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin (B2), and pyridoxine (B6), minerals K, Na, Ca, Mg, P, S, more than 100 enzymes, carotenoids, and flavonoids.
Of the fatty acids in pollen, palmitic acid is the most important one, followed by myristic, linoleic, oleic, linolenic, stearic acids.
So, is bee pollen good for you?
Pollen has many nutritional and medicinal properties with many high-performing athletes that use pollen attributing their performance to this “miracle food”.
The only downside is that some people are allergic to pollen
Health benefits of bee pollen
Many health benefits have been attributed to pollen, it has been associated with improvement in athletic performance, digestive assimilation, rejuvenation, appetite, hemoglobin content, skin vitality, and sexual prowess.
Pollen has also been associated with the cure of cancer in animals, high blood pressure, male sterility, anemia, ulcers, and nervous and endocrine disorders.
Science has proven the effectiveness of pollen in the treatment of prostate conditions ranging from swelling, infection to cancer. It has also been proven to treat allergies.
How is bee pollen collected?
Pollen is usually collected/harvested at the hive entrance using special devices called pollen traps.
Care should be taken not to collect pollen when there is spraying of crops within a three-kilometer radius of the apiary. This is to avoid contamination of the pollen with pesticides.
After collection, the pollen should be dried very fast to avoid the growth of mold or rapid multiplication of bacteria.