Bee Pollen – Before we begin discussing what bee pollen is, let’s first examine what bee pollen is not.
Plant pollen at its most basic level can be divided into two basic categories, anemophilous pollen and entomophilous pollen. As a general guideline, gymnosperm plant species are anemophilous and angiosperm plant species are entomophilous.
If you live near any pine species, chances are good you have experienced anemophilous pollen first hand. During periods of pollination, these species apply a thin coat of fine yellow dust to almost everything in sight. Anemophilous pollen is also responsible for triggering the histamine reaction causing people to suffer allergy symptoms.
Although rare, some insect species do collect anemophilous pollen. Anemophilous pollen is relatively low in protein compared to entomophilous pollen which is a staple of the honeybee diet.
Entomophilous pollen is found in flowers. Entomophilous is much larger than anemophilous pollen and often very sticky. This pollen adheres to the legs of honeybees as they visit flowers to collect nectar. The honeybees then transport the collected pollen to neighboring flowers which begins the fertilization process ultimately resulting in seed production. However, much of this pollen stays attached to the honeybees rear legs, known as pollen sacs, and is transported back to the hive where it is converted into a densely nutritious food source for the colony.
Once the pollen arrives back at the hive, it is stripped from the bees rear legs and mixed with honey, nectar, and enzymes. The enzymes are added as the honeybees ingest the honey and then regurgitate it onto the pollen. The end result is a densely packed ball of honey, nectar, pollen and enzymes known as a pollen granule.
Bee pollen is a super-food! Bee pollen is well known among nutritionists as a super-food. Bee pollen is approximately 26% protein and is the only source of protein for the hive. However, bee pollen is very low in fat which makes it an ideal protein supplement for humans. Bee pollen contains all essential amino acids and at least two non-essential amino acids. Listed below is the approximate amino acid constitution of bee pollen. Please keep in mind that the nutritional content of bee pollen will vary bases upon the floral array from which the pollen was collected by honeybees.
- Arginine: 4.4 – 5.7%
- Histadine: 2.0 – 3.5%
- Isoleucine: 4.5 – 5.8%
- Leucine: 6.7 – 7.5%
- Lycine: 5.9 – 7.0%
- Methionine: 1.2 – 2.4%
- Phenylalanine: 3.7 – 4.4%
- Threonine: 2.3 – 4.0%
- Tryptophan: 1.2 – 1.6%
- Valine: 5.5 – 6.0%
Bee pollen is also rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Provitamin A (beta-carotene) – (carotenoids)
- Vitamin B1 – (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 – (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 – (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 – (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 – (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B12 -(cyanocobalamin)
- Vitamin C – (ascorbic acid)
- Vitamin D & Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Choline & Inositol
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin PP (niacin or Vitamin B3)
- Calcium & Iron
- Phosphorus & Copper
- Potassium, Magnesium & Sodium (electrolytes)
- Manganese & Selenium
- Silica (great for the hair, skin & nails)
- Sulphur & Titanium
- Zinc (needed for the immune system)
- Iodine & Chlorine
- Boron & Molybdenum
In addition to amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, bee pollen also contains many enzymes, co-enzymes, fatty acids, and compounds thought to be powerful antioxidants.
Although bee pollen is densely nutritious, it is not for everyone. Individuals with a history of bee related allergies or a history of anaphylaxis should be very cautious when using any bee or honey related product as a dietary supplement.