Bee pollen is one of the best longevity foods and complete source of most of the nutrients among any food found in nature. Pollen is basically the male seed of flower. When bees go into the flower for harvesting nectar, their bodies get covered with the millions of microscopic pollen grains. On each individual flight bees go on, it pollinates every flower it visits during the journey. Bee body covered with pollen grains and mixes it with very small amount of honey forming small pellets of pollen granules. Bee stores them in small pocket like indentations in its legs to carry them back to the hive. Generally, one teaspoon dose of pollen takes one bee working 8 hours a day for one month to gather. Each pollen pellet contains over 2 million flower pollen grains and one teaspoonful contains over 2.5 billion grains of flower pollen. Various colors of pollen pellets, varying from white and cream to dark brown, presenting red, orange, gray, yellow and greenish degrees exist in nature depending on the botanical taxa and chemical composition of these substances. The beekeepers obtain the pollen by installing a trap in front of the hive entrance, so that the worker bees while returning home drop their pollen pellets which are then collected into a container. When pollen is available in large quantities, a honey bee colony can collect between 15 and 55 kg pollen annually. The yield of bee pollen is dependent on pollen moisture content, container capacity, climate and size of the hive.
Bee pollen is the food of the young bee and is considered one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods as it contains nearly all nutrients required by humans. The bees forage only nutritionally rich pollens which are the main source of proteins for bee survival. Bee pollen, being rich in nutritional and therapeutic properties, has been used in traditional medicine from the centuries and as a food in the human diet. The old Egyptians consider it as “life-giving dust.” It is considered as a potential source of proteins and energy for human consumption and commonly referred to as the “only perfectly complete food” because of the presence of all essential amino acids. Bee pollen is richer in proteins than any animal source. The major components present in bee pollen are carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and crude fiber, at proportions ranging between 13-55 %, 10-40 %, 1-10 % and 0.3-20 %, respectively. Other important minor components are phenolic compounds, flavonoids, minerals and trace elements, vitamins especially B-complex vitamins and carotenoids, sterols and terpenes. At least eighteen amino acids have been found in the pollen, where proline, lysine and leucine, glutamic and aspartic acids are dominant, constituting nearly 55% of total amino acids. Pollen also acts as antibacterial, antifungicidal, anti-cariogenic, antioxidant, antiallergic and immunomodulatory. Thus, bee pollen has the enormous potential to act as functional food in the food industry due to pollen nutritional properties.
Bee pollen should not confused with natural honey, honeycomb, bee venom, or royal jelly as these products do not contain bee pollen although there are combination products that contain one or more of these substances. Bee pollen is wonderful for natural allergy relief and is responsible for the many health benefits of raw honey. Bee pollen strengthens the capillaries, reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels naturally. It acts as an anti-aging food giving incredible support to the immune system. Being the source of natural antibiotics, bee pollen is very good in removing the symptoms of allergy, especially wind pollen allergy and respiratory disorders. It is also very good in eliminating the menstrual pain. Bee pollen is also very useful in the weight loss as it is rich in lecithin content. Lecithin stimulates the metabolism and allows the body to release the body fat. Moreover, it provides protection against exposure to radiation. It stimulates the production of lymphocytes and also increases the ɣ-globulin level in the blood that is largely responsible for the resistance against infection. Bee pollen is really a super-food possessing so many health benefits.
How to consume bee pollen
For the first time, eat only 1 granule and then gradually increase its consumption as it is nutrient dense and human body is not used to that level of nutrition in such small amount of food. Alternatively, the sweet tangy taste and soft powdery texture of bee pollen can be enjoyed by adding in the shakes, smoothies, juice, etc.
Mamta Thakur and Vikas Nanda
Deptt of Food Engg. and Tech,