Pollen is the richest food we know, the only one on Earth to contain all 20 amino acids necessary for life, and an indispensable resource for the hive. Without pollen, there would be no proteins - no proteins, no wax. No wax, no hive! Young bees and workers in full activity both have need of an energizing food (made from nectar) and proteins, vitamins, fats, etc., that are found in pollen
The Source of Pollen
Bees use pollen in two ways:
Often involuntarily, when the bees dive into a flower to collect the nectar at the bottom of the blossom, the pollen-covered walls cover their hairs with a coating of pollen dust. These grains of pollen are then transferred from flower to flower by the bee. In this way way, 70% of plants use the bees to pollinate themselves. Coming back to the hive, loaded with nectar for honey production, the bee continues to spread pollen from her hairs over the whole hive. This is why there is often pollen in honey. They reinforce the vitamins and bring proteins otherwise lacking to the day to day food of the colony. The pollen traces also allow for identifying the honey source. Basically, by looking at honey under the microscope, you can identify all the different foraging routes, just by identifiying the pollen - a field of clover located on the otherside of a forest of chestnut and linden trees, for example.
After being brought back to the hive, the bees also use pollen to feed their “babies”. The queen lays hundreds of eggs every day, and it’s necessary for everyone to have a good protein source, so they grow quickly and healthy. The solution: certain foraging bees will specialize in harvesting pollen, depending on environment and season. They go in search of the most plentiful pollen bearing flowers : broom, willow, chestnut, cyst, for example. With the help of their bristly back feet and the pollen traps on their legs, they make pellets containing thousands of grains of pollen. These pellets are brought back to the hive and mixed with honey to make the “magic potion” for young bee nutrition.
In the honeycombs, the bacteria and yeasts present in the pollen-honey mix continue to mature the pollen and make it more digestible; in the end it will contain less sugar but more proteins. This fermented mix is called pain d’abeilles. This will be the food of larvae after 3 days. The young bees eat it as well while they are producing royal jelly and wax.
Le pollen d’abeilles contient en particulier :
- A large proportion of easily assimilable free amino acids. Pollen is more rich in protein than meat or eggs
- Fatty acids
- Vitamines (A,E,C)
- prebiotic enzymes from fermentations, and yeasts and bacteria that play an important role in cellular respiration
- Mineral salts and trace elements (one of the richest sources of selenium)
- Hormones and gonadotropins
- Natural antibiotic factors
- Antioxidant polyphenols
- Phytosterols, which play a role in cholesterol absorption
- Pigments, carotenoids; pollens from different flowers or trees have slightly different colours, tastes, and compositions.
To harvest pollen, we put grills (pollen traps) at the entrance of the hive, over which the bees will pass and drop their pellets. In Gentle Beekeeping, we pay attention to the planned harvest days, according to climactic conditions, notably humidity (pollen cannot be harvested too moist). Our hives have two entrances so that only some of the returning bees lose their collected pollen. This does not result in lower harvest quantities, and it is far more comfortable for the hive. It is better to not harvest pollen at the beginning and the end of the flowering season. Another advantage is that there are no dead bees or bee parts in the pollen, resulting in a far cleaner final form without separating different kinds of pollens.
We also respect the choice of the bees in knowing what to bring back to the hive for a complete and necessary nutrition. To preserve the pollen, a method called “hydro plus” is used, replicating the action of the bees: low temperature (30-35°C) ventilated dehumidification. The pollen is preserved with a much softer texture in this way as well; at too high a temperature it will degrade. Many beekeepers also sell frozen pollen. This is often good to taste because it resembles freshly collected pollen. However, pay attention to the temperature, making sure it has been kept at a steady -18°C during transport and storage. If it has thawed at all, you can potentially get stomach cramps. In this case, stop taking the pollen. Freezing also takes a lot of energy : a freezer can never be turned off, and you have to refrigerate as well during delivery. Used in other preparations, such as the honey-pollen mixed cure, which are close to beebread, allow for better preservation of its properties and better assimilation. All much better for the bees and energy resources.
Principal Properties and Using Pollen
How you take pollen is largely up to you, either in honey-pollen mixtures that replicate beebread, or letting it sit in honey water for an hour and then drinking. You can mix it in yogurt, honey, or with fruits (avocados, bananas, red fruit). The shell of the pollen is then opened like when transferred to another flower, and the available nutrients are enhanced. It is stimulating and tonifying, with a clean euphoric effect. Bee pollen is a first rate protein source because it contains all the amino acids necessary for cell life, and these proteins are easier to absorb because they are free. This is why pollen is a stimulant. It is recommended for staying in shape.
Pollen is a gonadotropin : it works on male sexual organs, which explains why it helps virility, vigour, and growth. It is recognized for its benefits for the prostate. Bee pollen plays an important role in the balance of intestinal flora as well. It contains probiotics from the digestive tract of the bee, infused during the regurgitation of nectar which glues the pellets together in the honeycomb. Pollen positively influences hair growth, as well as nail health.
People Allergic to Pollen:
If you’re allergic, bee pollen can be used to diminish the effects through its consumption. Start with two grains on the first day, increasing it progressively until you are taking a half teaspoon a day. The intake of pollen also brings copper, zinc, selenium, vitamins A and E, explaining its stimulation of the immune system.