|Back to the Table of Contents
|Focus on Herbs: Bee
|by Mary Egan
Bee Do Bee Doo
try to keep up with the humble honeybee. This industrious creature
spends its day flying from flower to flower. They extract nectar for
the hive from one bloom while gathering pollen to spread to the next
bloom providing cross-fertilization. Now there's a multitasker!
For most of the year, the honeybee performs these tasks amongst the
various seasonal blooms. The daffodils and lilacs of spr ing,
dandelions and roses of summer, as ter s and goldenrod of fall are a
banquet table for them to choose from. Honeybees take pollen back to
the hive where it is covered with nectar and used as a protein source
during brood rearing.
Bee pollen has been recognized in ancient cultures for healing
properties. Bee pollen contains every chemical substance needed to
maintain life, and is therefore it is considered a complete food.
Perhaps this is why the marathon runners of Greece consumed it to
increase strength and endurance. A study at the Institute of Bee
Culture in Paris revealed that enzymes in bee pollen break down complex
forms of sugar in the nectar into simple sugar. Bee pollen contains 21
amino acids as well as essential fatty acids making it a nutritive
powerhouse. There is a property similar to hydrogen peroxide gives the
pollen an antibiotic property. Honeybee pollen can be helpful treating
chronic fatigue, hay fever, allergies, and asthma. It can also improve
concentration and mental function.
From spring until fall, you can find raw honeybee pollen in the
refrigerated section of the Co-op's Wellness department. The pollen is
provided by David Lord, a beekeeper in the Catskill Mountains of Greene
County. When he started keeping bees, David circled a three mile radius
on a map around his hives and noted what crops and wildflowers grew in
this area. This informed him whether his bees were gathering pollen
from pastures of raspberries and apples or dandelions and clover.
Paying extra attention to where the bees gather nectar and pollen will
help prevent colony collapse disorder, which is when the adult bees
abandon a hive. This is usually due to the bees not having access to
quality foraging fields or being exposed to pesticides. David notes
where the best foraging areas are and places the hives within easy
reach. What the honeybee consumes can impact the flavor and color of
the final product. David said he has seen pollen in shades of yellow,
brown and even emerald green.
David collects the pollen from the hive every day and dries it on a
screen for four to six hours until the raw pollen forms pellets, kind
of like Grape Nuts cereal. You will find these pellets in a jar in the
refrigerated Wellness section. Scoop out the amount you want just as
you would a bulk item. This raw honeybee pollen can be sprinkled on
oatmeal, dry cereal or yogurt. You can add to muffins for a nutritional
You can eat the pollen by itself but be aware that while it can be
helpful for allergies, you are actually consuming part of the plant or
flower you may be allergic to. Bee pollen should be taken only as a
supplement to your physician's advice.
|Today's Herbal Health, by Louise
Tenney. M.H. Woodland: 2000.
Conversation with beekeeper David Lord.
|Back to the Table of Contents