Bee pollen contains protein, vitamins, and minerals. In humans, it may help regulate the immune system and promote wound healing. But, collecting it may adversely affect the health of the bees and even destroy the colony.
Bee pollen is a natural mixture of bee secretions, honey, enzymes, wax, and flower pollen. It provides food for bees.
Many people regard bee pollen as a superfood because of its many nutrients; others see it as a natural therapeutic product
However, despite its potential benefits to humans, harvesting pollen for an extended period may adversely affect the bees and cause the colony to die out.
Bees forage and collect pollen from a variety of plants. When the bees return to the beehive with the pollen, it becomes
The type of plants the bees harvest, together with other ingredients, affects the composition of the bee pollen.
As a product for human use, bee pollen appears as small yellowish-orange to dark brown or black granules. The pollen has a sweet, floral taste that varies depending on which plants the bees gathered it from.
How to eat bee pollen
People can use bee pollen in various ways, such as a topping on cereals, yogurt, or salad, or in smoothies or similar drinks. It is also available as a supplement.
However, take care when using pollen products may cause allergic symptoms, including shortness of breath or
Bee pollen is a complex food. There are about
- amino acids
- macronutrients and micronutrients
Pollen also contains the following important nutritional compounds:
|Protein||7–40%, including essential amino acids|
|Fats||1–18%, including essential fatty acids|
|Vitamins||A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, E|
|Minerals||Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, copper, silicon, selenium, zinc|
Some traditional medicinal practitioners use bee products, such as pollen, as a form of medicine. Using bee products to benefit health is known as apitherapy.
Bee pollen contains many active compounds that may have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Bee pollen contains antioxidants, vitamins, and other compounds, and may reduce damage in the cells from free radicals or oxidative stress. It may also protect cells from damage due to UV light from the sun.
However, levels of antioxidants in bee pollen can vary widely based on the plant types and growing conditions in the area where bees collected the pollen.
Learn more about antioxidants here.
Learn about antimicrobial resistance here.
However, researchers need to carry out further studies to confirm whether these results apply in humans.
Some bee products, including bee pollen, may have other health benefits. However, more human-based research is needed to confirm any beneficial effects.
Some of these potential benefits are:
Regulating the immune system
A 2010 research article indicates that compounds in bee pollen may help regulate the immune system by improving individual immune response in the cells or stimulating the immune cells when necessary. Bee pollen compounds, such as flavonoids, volatile oils, and steroids, may reduce the impact of allergies on the immune system.
Learn how the immune system works here.
Promoting wound healing
Bee pollen may help with some forms of wound treatment, such as burns. Animal-based
Learn more about honey and wound healing here.
Protecting against heart disease
Bee pollen may reduce the risk of heart disease. Research showed that pollen extracts reduce blood lipids and cholesterol levels and may help protect from heart disease and stroke. In models of heart disease, bee pollen reduces atherosclerosis plaques and helps keep clots from forming.
However, results from animal-based studies may not necessarily translate to humans, and scientists will need to carry out more research to confirm this.
Learn more about heart disease here.
Fighting against cancer cells
There is no current evidence that bee pollen has any effect on cancer in humans.
Allergies, product contamination, and interaction with medications, such as blood thinners, are all possible concerns with bee products. Anyone considering using bee pollen should talk with their doctor first.
People who are allergic to pollen should contact their allergist or doctor before using any pollen products. A person with an allergy to bees or bee stings should also avoid pollen products.
Bee pollen is a natural product, and there is the possibility of contamination during collection by the insects, such as mold from decomposing plants. This substance could potentially contaminate a batch of bee pollen. Improper storage could cause bee pollen to break down.
Bee pollen and its compounds
A person who is pregnant or breastfeeding may want to avoid bee products or talk to their doctor before using them.
Bees use pollen as brood food, to feed the queen, and for the speedy development of newly emerged worker bees.
Pollen is essential to bees. Research indicates that if there is not enough pollen in the hive due to long-term harvesting by humans, the colony may not survive. However, pollen trapping in the short term, which experts define
When bees enter a hive, they deposit small amounts of pollen on the outside of the hive, which people can collect or harvested by hand. People can also use pollen traps to harvest bee pollen.
Does harvesting pollen harm bees?
When harvesters or manufacturers use pollen traps for an extended period, a number of
- disease levels
- wax production
- honey production
- adult population
- brood rearing
- colony survival
However, researchers suggest that there may be other, more sustainable ways to collect bee pollen, such as improved trap design.
Anyone who is uncertain if they can use bee pollen should consult with their doctor before consuming the product. Similarly, people who plan to take bee pollen regularly should check with their doctor about possible interactions with medications.
If a person has symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, swelling in the face, or a skin rash, after using pollen, they should seek immediate medical attention.
Bee pollen is a complex food with potential health benefits. However, more human-based studies are needed to provide evidence of bee pollen benefits. Supplements, such as bee pollen, cannot replace a balanced diet.