Snyders Honey, La Honda, California

What is Bee Pollen?

Snyders Honey bee pollen

One of the most fascinating products from the hive gathered for human consumption is bee pollen. Pollen is defined by Webster's New World Dictionary as "the yellow, powder like male sex cells in the anther of the stamen of a flower". In Latin, the word pollen means "pine flower". The pollen grain has a protective two layers around it. The outer layer consists of a waxy exine made of sporopollen which is able to resist most acids and temperatures as high as 300C. The inner layer is a fragile inner wall, the intine, which surrounds and protects the nuclei and the reserves of starch and oil.

The pollen grain is physically so indestructible that identifiable grains have been found in geological strata dating back millions of years. These are the first known plants boring pollen grains. Pollen grains are so minute that more than 400,000 of them would be needed to weigh a single ounce.

One of the most important contributions to humanity is the pollination of food crops by honeybees. Pollination is the act of transferring pollen from the anther to the stigma. This transference is usually accomplished by the use of honeybees. Sometimes, plants are able to pollinate themselves by wind. When pollen is transferred from the anther of one flower to the stigma of another of the same species, it is called cross-pollination. Pollination in plants is like sexual reproduction in animals, keeping alive the vitality of the species.

Pollination by honeybees is an integral part of agricultural production of vegetable, fruit, and nut crops. "The following crops realize more than one billion annually: alfalfa seed, almonds, most apples, avocados, Bartlett pears, bush berries, cherries, cucumbers, flaxseed, kiwi, clover seed, melons, plums, prunes, pumpkins, squash, sunflower seed, tangelos, tangerines, 22 vegetable seeds, and flower seeds", (Beekeeping in California, Foote). Many of these crops, as well as ornamental plants, are grown in home or community gardens where bee pollination is equally essential for producing seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Bees also pollinate weeds which provide food for wild birds and mammals and prevent erosion of watersheds and wilderness areas. Bee pollination has an enormous impact on our diets and on the stability of our environment.

Bee pollen is collected by placing a pollen trap on a hive. Generally, the hive is rearranged so that the pollen trap serves as the entrance; it may be located at the bottom, middle, or top of the hive. After the bees become accustomed to the new entrance, pollen is carried to the hive in ball-like masses on the hind legs of foraging bees. On the bees upper hind legs they have a few hairs that act as a basket where the bee rolls up the pollen dust grains and mixes it with nectar to form a ball. The bees will crawl through two special size screens that will knock off the pollen, ball-like pellets into a collection tray. The pollen is then removed and ready for consumption. The traps usually have a small entrance so the bees can bring enough pollen into the hive to feed the young.

Pollen for consumption is a debatable subject. Some believe bee pollen should only be used to provide nutrients to the bees. Others believe it to play a vital role in their diet as it has many nutrients and health benefits. Bee pollen is a totally natural food. Dr. Naum Petrovitch "Yoirish from the Russian Department of Physiology at the Far Eastern Institute of the Soviet Academy of Science in Vladivostok, published a manuscript titled "Bees In The Service of Humanity". Dr. Yoirish stated, "bee pollen is a treasure house of nutrition and regenerative power, containing all 22 amino acids and 27 mineral salts, including but not limited to, calcium, magnesium, and zinc and a full range of known and unknown vitamins and enzymes". Dr. Yoirish said that bee pollen was such an amazing food because of how pollen comes in a optimum natural blend. Extracts of pollens have been very important in relieving hay fever. Bee pollen is known to contain regenerative properties for the organism. Bee pollen has been helpful with people who have problems with colitis, prostatitus, high blood pressure, the common cold, many allergies, hay fever, asthma, disturbance of the endocrine system, and certain nervous disorders.

A lot of research regarding the health benefits of bee pollen has been done; what it has in it to influence disease, ailments, sexual energy, beauty, and weight loss. Dr. Remy Chauvin M.D. and his associates at the Institute of Bee Culture Bures Sur Yvete, Paris and colleagues around Europe, have conducted more research into the benefits of bee pollen consumption by human beings than any other medical group. Here is some of what they found: "The antibiotic in bee pollen was extracted and found extremely active". They found certain microbes were killed related to hard-to-control diseases such as salmonella (typhoid type). These scientists also found pollen helpful in treating problems such as fatigue, allergies, and other respiratory problems (i.e. bronchitis, sinusitis, and colds). Bee pollen has shown beneficial results in menstrual and prostate problems.

In addition to these research findings, pollen been effective in treating: constipation, colitis, colibaciallosis, anemia, circulatory disorders, depressive states, skin fragility, and hair loss. Pollen has been found to contain natural hormonal substances that stimulate and nourish the reproductive systems of both men and women. Pollen has increased sexual stamina and vigor. Bee pollen has been used in weight management by correcting a possible chemical imbalance in body metabolism that may be involved in either abnormal weight gain or abnormal weight loss. Pollen is a low calorie food, about 90 calories per ounce (approximately two tablespoons of pollen) and contains 15% lecithin which helps burn fat from the body.

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