4 Surprising Health Benefits of Bee Pollen

4 Surprising Health Benefits of Bee Pollen

Executive Summary: 

It’s no secret that raw honey has several beneficial compounds. Still, honey isn’t the only nutritious substance that honeybees produce — the benefits of bee pollen are becoming more and more known, and we’re here to cover them with you to help expand your knowledge on all things bees and honey. Let’s dive in. 

 

What Is Bee Pollen?

Traditional “pollen” basically consists of the reproductive particles made by a male flower; “bee pollen” on the other hand is slightly different and offers a broader set of uses.

Bee pollen (or bee bread) is essentially a combination of flower pollen, enzymes, nectar, and honey that is transported back to the bee hive. 

Bee pollen is vital for the development and longevity of any bee colony. Bee pollen is different from honey, royal jelly, and honeycomb, though some people tend to use a lot of these terms interchangeably because they all feature pollen as a main ingredient. 

In sum, bee pollen is the pollen collected from male flowers, mixed with a small amount of either nectar or the bee’s salivary enzymes, so she can properly ball that nectar up and efficiently transport several pollen balls back to the hive. 

The quality of bee pollen depends on several factors, such as the climate condition, the flower it is harvested from, and the hive's geographical location. Like honey, this bee bread contains beneficial compounds like amino acids, enzymes, and phenolic compounds. 

Before the bees harvest the pollen, it already naturally contains some amount of beneficial compounds. Once transported to the hive, it is further enriched with a thin layer of honey so it can ferment and turn into a rich protein source for the bees.

The fermented flower pollen becomes the honeybees’ primary protein source. Bees rely on this pollen to feed the entire colony, which is why it’s so important they collect plenty of it. Bees do eventually eat the honey they produce, but before that honey is ready for consumption, they rely on the high protein levels in the pollen to keep them nourished and energized. 

If bee hives are placed too close to each other, the hives can become rivals, fighting for the same pollen. At Manukora, our hives are strategically placed to ensure our bees have plenty of resources without stepping on each others’ toes.

 

What Are the Properties of Bee Pollen

The properties of bee pollen depend on the properties of the pollen harvested from the plant. 

Some plants have particularly nutritionally dense pollen — willow pollen is one type of pollen with a particularly high protein content that can then go on to nourish the bees that collect it. On that same note, there are also plants with nutrient-lacking pollen, such as the sunflower, whose pollen offers very low caloric value. 

Even more interesting, Western honey bees don’t seem to collect and pack Manuka pollen like other types of pollen, either. While it still brushes onto their body, we’ve yet to see our honey bees actually pack their pollen into balls for transport. 

 

How Is Bee Pollen Harvested? 

Pollen is brought to the hive by the worker bees; when they’re out collecting nectar, the pollen from the plants either attaches by mere contact to their legs and bellies, or is packaged for transport as mentioned earlier, making it quite difficult for beekeepers to harvest pollen directly since they’d have to do so from the bees’ hind legs.

With that, beekeepers often place small traps at the hive entrance; as the bees come and go, the pollen on their legs brushes off and is collected in a small pan underneath. The pan isn’t actually inside the hive, and is usually easy to slide out for the beekeeper's and convenience.

 

What Makes Bee Pollen So Special?

Bee pollen is home to around 200 beneficial substances; these include amino acids, proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, and nutrients. Adding bee pollen to your diet means adding those 200 substances into your diet too (albeit in small amounts). 

 

What Are the Health Benefits of Bee Pollen?

Bee pollen is growing a reputation as one of nature's best-kept secrets — this attribution as a superfood is most likely due to its concentration of amino acids, not to mention its slightly sweet, floral taste and mild crunch. 

Learn about bee pollen’s potential benefits below and why this up-and-coming health food has become a popular element of alternative medicine.

 

1. Bee Pollen Is a Nutrient-Rich Functional Food

A balanced diet is the first step to achieving great energy levels and peak immune and digestive health; however, getting all the necessary nutrients can be hard without daily supplements. 

Bee pollen contains vitamins like vitamins B, C, D, E, and A, as well as minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Bee pollen is also a wonderful source of essential amino acids. These amino acids include tryptophan, lysine, and valine — all amino acids that your body cannot make on its own, but needs in order to function properly.

Bee pollen is also said to offer similar energizing effects as honey. With 22.7% protein, 30.8% carbohydrates, and loads of essential fatty acids, it’s no wonder that bee pollen brings such an energy boost. 

 

2. Bee Pollen Can Support the Immune Response

Some studies suggest that bee pollen may be a source of potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Plus, bee pollen contains polyphenols and flavonoids, which act as antioxidants and can help protect your body from oxidative stress caused by free radical damage.

Bee pollen can also help strengthen your immune response due to its unique natural cocktail of vitamins and minerals. Plus, studies have shown that bee pollen may help soften allergic reactions

However, it’s important to note that bee pollen can also trigger allergic reactions if you are allergic to certain seasonal plants or weeds. If you have allergies, it’s best to consult your primary care physician before incorporating bee pollen into your daily routine.

 

3. Bee Pollen Can Counteract the Effects of Toxins 

With so few holistically-minded products available for natural consumption, it’s no wonder that toxins are becoming a part of everyday life. Pesticides, pollution, and even household cleaning and personal care products can negatively affect your health.

Luckily, bee pollen can help counteract the effects of certain toxins. For instance, bee pollen has been shown to have significant effects on flourine toxicity, which can occur if you’re exposed to too much flouride ingestion via oral hygeine products or unknowing consumption via an oversaturated water supply.

 

4. Bee Pollen Can Support a Healthy Metabolism 

If you have issues regulating your blood sugar, chances are you’ve had to make quite a few dietary or lifestyle adjustments to keep your blood sugar in line. While diet is generally still the best way to control your glucose, bee pollen can also help regulate your blood sugar levels.

Bee pollen can also help manage metabolic conditions like obesity. Everyone’s body is different, but obesity is a medical condition that can have very serious health consequences if it’s not managed properly. Bee pollen can help by helping to promote weight loss, as well as helping your body fight off the numerous health conditions that tend to show up alongside obesity.

 

What Are the Best Ways To Eat Bee Pollen

Eating bee pollen might seem strange if you’ve never heard of it, but it often comes as a slightly sweet, floral powder that’s easy to add to your favorite foods for a little boost.

Here are some ways to indulge in its sweet crunch:

  • Add it to your breakfast. Bee pollen granules are a great way to supercharge your breakfast. You can sprinkle them on yogurt, oatmeal, or even toast.

  • Make granola. If you make your granola yourself, you can add a spoonful or two of bee pollen to your next batch.

  • Put it in your coffee or tea. Like honey, bee pollen has a sweet bite; it can be a welcome refined sugar alternative if you only want a subtle hint of sweetness in your drink. Plus, swapping your table sugar for bee pollen extract can provide you with an extra nutritional boost in the morning.

  • Blend it in your smoothies. Smoothies can be a great source of vitamins and minerals when made with the right ingredients, and adding a pinch of bee pollen to that ingredient list can make that smoothie even more nourishing — plus, it’ll make it a tad sweeter, too.

  • Upgrade your honey mustard. Honey mustard is delicious, but you can make it a little nutritious by stirring in a sprinkle of bee pollen.

 

How Much Pollen Is Too Much? 

There’s no standard amount of pollen someone should consume daily, but most honey and bee experts generally recommend starting with about a quarter of a teaspoon and gradually increasing as desired to a max of about two tablespoons per day. 

 

Is Bee Pollen Safe? 

In short, bee pollen has been found generally safe for most people to consume, and typically has minimal side effects

Since bee pollen is treated as a dietary supplement in the U.S., the use of bee pollen isn’t regulated, so it’s best to ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about possible interactions with other medications or supplements you already take, or if bee pollen is generally a good fit for you and your lifestyle. 

That said, there are a few reasons why bee pollen may not be a good fit for you:

  • You should avoid bee pollen if you have a known allergen to honey or other bee products
  • If you have any type of pollen allergies, bee pollen may also give you trouble. 
  • You should also avoid bee pollen if you take blood thinners like Warfarin.
  • If you’ve ever experienced an allergic reaction (especially anaphylaxis) due to a bee sting, then bee pollen probably isn’t for you.

If you think you’re having an allergic reaction after consuming bee pollen, contact your doctor or seek medical help immediately. A small allergic reaction can escalate quickly. Signs of an allergic reaction include itchiness, swelling, hives, and shortness of breath.

Like honey, bee pollen shouldn’t be given to small children or babies. Consult a doctor before taking bee pollen if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

 

In Conclusion

Bee pollen is just another gift from the bees that not only offers a subtly sweet, floral flavor that can elevate a dish or drink, but can also serve as a source of nutrition thanks to its energy-boosting carbohydrates and fueling proteins.  

While we don’t have any Manuka pollen to offer yet, our authentic Manuka honey is also uniquely rich in beneficial wellness compounds, and offers a much more intense sensory experience than bee pollen ever could! 

You can learn more about Manuka honey and its benefits here, or head here to check out the Manukora blog for more informational articles about bees and all things honey!




Sources:
Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review - PMC.

Uncertainties continue around use of bee pollen | OSF HealthCare 

Bee Pollen - an overview | ScienceDirect

Bee Pollen: Current Status and Therapeutic Potential | PMC

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