Rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, amino acids, and antioxidants, bee pollen is gaining popularity as a superfood. Bee pollen is dried whole as granules or ground into powder and added to foods as a garnish, or consumed in pill form. In China, pollen was first recorded during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 to 907) and is still very popular. Today, China is the world's largest producer of pollen followed by the United States.
What Is Bee Pollen?
Bee pollen is a mixture of flower pollen, nectar or honey, and digestive enzymes. When foraging bees fly from flower to flower, they pick up pollen. This pollen is packed into pellets and called bee pollen. The bees then carry them back to the hive in “baskets” on their legs where the pellets are stored as food for the colony. Beekeepers use pollen traps at hive entrances to collect the pollen; bee pollen is best preserved immediately after harvest by freezing or drying. Bee pollen granules are its purest form and exactly how they were transported by foraging bees.
Bee Pollen Uses
Bee pollen is best consumed raw to preserve as many nutrients as possible. You can swallow the pills straight up, or sprinkle granules or powder over oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, soups, and salads as garnish. Blend into your favorite salad dressing or morning smoothie.
Start with a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per day, with a maximum of 1 tablespoon per day. If you’re allergic to bees and honey, you’re probably allergic to bee pollen. Use caution and common sense.
What Does It Taste Like?
Bee pollen is slightly sweet with a floral taste. However, the taste can vary according to the type of flower the pollen came from.
Bee Pollen Recipes
Bee pollen can be used as a garnish or added to vinaigrettes, smoothies and acai bowls.
Where to Buy Bee Pollen
Bee pollen can be found in most health food stores and at farmer’s markets in the United States. You can find a wider variety of brands and forms online. Bee pollen is sold as granules, powder, or in 500 mg capsules. A local beekeeper may sell it to you in bulk, or look for a specialty retailer online.
Harvesting pollen is difficult to do without damaging or depleting the hive’s food source. So it is essential to purchase pollen (and all bee products) from a trustworthy supplier. Look for pollen from pesticide-free flowers. Depending on the source, bee pollen can range in price from $1 an ounce to $5.
Buy in small quantities and store in a cool, dark place. For a longer shelf life, refrigerate or freeze pollen.
Nutrition and Benefits
Bee pollen contains over 250 biologically active substances, including proteins, carbs, lipids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and a wide variety of antioxidants (including flavonoids and carotenoids).
These components have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and immune-enhancing potential. However, bee pollen’s exact nutrient composition depends on the plant source and harvest season. Thus, the variations result in inconsistent properties, biological activity, and therapeutic effects.
Bee Pollen vs. Other Bee Products
Bee pollen shouldn’t be confused with other bee products such as honey, propolis, royal jelly or honeycomb. These products may not contain pollen and/or contain other substances.