Bee pollen (Apis mellifera) refers to the pollen grains that collect on the legs of worker bees as they partake of the nectar produced by flowering plants. The pollen, which is normally mixed with saliva and reserved nectar for the purpose of feeding male drones, is transported back to the hive via specialized pockets on the rear legs of the bees. However, commercial beekeepers can successfully capture the pollen by placing a mesh screen over the entrance to the hive so that the pollen is swept off the bees as they enter. The accumulated pollen is then collected from trays that lie beneath the hive’s entrance and compressed into tablets or encapsulated.
What’s all the buzz about bee pollen? Well, aside from being the perfect food for drone bees, bee pollen is exceptionally rich in minerals, lipids, amino acids, polysaccharides, and essential fatty acids, namely alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid. It also consists of up to 30% protein and 55% carbohydrates that can be converted into energy. Bee pollen is also an abundant source of antioxidants, such as trans-cinnamic acid, quercetin, rutin, and myricetin. Finally, although it is a “rich” food product in terms of providing more complete protein and complex amino acids than eggs, fish, or meat, it is virtually fat-free.
There are no known side effects or drug interactions associated with supplementing with bee pollen. However, while reports of toxicity are extremely rare, those with a known allergy to bee venom, honey, or ragweed, should probably avoid it.