Although honey is the most well-known food product we associate with bees, bee pollen is quickly gaining in popularity with health-conscious individuals looking to enhance energy and promote well-being.
What is bee pollen?
Not to be confused with airborne pollen – the stuff that causes sneezing and watery eyes -- bee pollen is any airborne pollen collected and “processed” by honeybees. Airborne pollen collects on the furry bodies of foraging honeybees as they travel from one flower to the next. Occasionally the insect will “comb” the pollen from its body, add a small secretion from its salivary glands, and compress the mixture into a special compartment on its hind legs, thus turning it into the gold nuggets known as bee pollen.
When the bee returns to the hive, a pollen trap placed by the beekeeper at the hive’s entrance gently scrapes some of the pollen from the bee’s legs as it enters the hive. The pollen is collected in a catchment below. Anywhere from 50 to 250 grams of bee pollen can be collected from one colony per day. What’s not collected by the beekeeper gets stored in the honeycomb and serves as an important source of nutrition for the hive.
Why do people use it?
The high nutritional value of bee pollen is why humans are interested in it. Often referred to as nature’s most complete food, bee pollen is a powerful and easily absorbed source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and protein. In fact, it contains a higher percentage of all nutrients necessary for human survival -- with exception of vitamin D -- than any other food. It has more amino acids and vitamins than beef, eggs, or cheese. In addition to serving as a dietary supplement, bee pollen supports the immune system and is a strong antioxidant.
Here’s the chemical breakdown:
- 30 percent digestible carbohydrates
- 26 percent sugars (mainly fructose and glucose)
- 23 percent protein (including at least 18 amino acids)
- 5 percent lipids (including essential fatty acids)
- 2 percent phenolic compounds (including flavonoids)
- 1.6 percent minerals (including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, silicon and selenium)
- 0.7 percent vitamins and acids (including vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, A, C, D, E and K; folic acid; rutin and niacin)
Is all bee pollen the same?
In a word, no. Bee pollen grains differ in shape, size, and weight, depending on the plant species from which the bees harvest it. Color can range from bright yellow or orange to dark green and even black! Geographical location, plant source, climate, soil conditions, and the species of bee all effect the quality and composition of bee pollen.
Savannah Bee Company Bee Pollen is a 100% natural, raw product. It is sustainably harvested and collected from hives in diverse areas of the U.S., giving it a more balanced nutritional profile than pollen collected from one specific area.
It is frozen at the time of collection and cold-stored to help maximize bioactivity of enzymes, bioflavinoids, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients.
Want to give it a try?
Start small with half a teaspoon and work your way up to 2-5 teaspoons per day. Sprinkle it on oatmeal, toast with honey, salads, or even ice cream. Bee pollen dissolves easily, so it’s great mixed into smoothies, yogurt, or cottage cheese.
The texture can be described as powdery, grainy, or chewy with a slight crunch. The flavor will vary depending on its source, but in general bee pollen tends to have a slightly sweet, floral, earthy taste. One teaspoon of pollen contains 15.7 calories, 2.2 grams of carbohydrates, 1.2 grams of protein, and 0.3 grams of fat. To maintain freshness and nutritional value, refrigerate after opening.
WARNING: Bee products may cause allergic reactions in some people, including shortness of breath, hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis. Check with your doctor before taking bee pollen for any health condition, especially if you take any prescription or over-the-counter medications, or herbal supplements.