02. 11. 2015
The pollen is not only an unpleasant part of spring chases the allergy sufferers away from the nature. It is also an especially valuable substance without which the bees could not survive. And where there are no insects, there will soon be no life.
In addition to the nutritional value of pollen, it also has many other beneficial effects on the human organism. Its composition is still not precisely known, but it will be probably found out a lot more by the researchers in the near future. As the following article shows, the pollen has many different kinds. Its composition also depends on its age and the place where it is collected from. Pollen is without any exaggeration a very complicated thing.
Many kinds of pollen
How do we know what kind of pollen we have?
Quite simply – by its color. White-gray pollen comes from raspberries and black berries, gray-green from poppies, blue tansy of California bluebell and beekeeping. The type and age of pollen then determine how it will taste.
The name „blossom pollen“is universal, it refers to all kinds of pollen. Pollen is divided into two main types, namely „perga“, also known as beebread, and fresh pollen.
„Perga“ is originally a Russian term and represents honeycomb pollen. It differs from the fresh pollen, because it has already been processed by the bees, is easily digestible and according to expert studies does not cause allergic reactions. That is why it is more expensive.
The bees collect the single grains of pollen and squeeze them in a mass. They form them into small oblong granules. You have probably seen them already, these elongated granules hang on the last pair of the legs of the bees. The bees collect the pollen in the so-called basket and shake it using a special thorn onto the second pair of legs.
And how does the bee collect the pollen? It flies from flower to flower and captures with the hair of its fur, branched as small trees, tiny grains of pollen. The bee brushes then pollen away from the basket and treats it with a special organ which is located on the third pair of her legs. Then she adds the content of the honey bag and its glands to it, forms a pollen granule and brings it in the hive.
The pollen granules are put in a cell in the hive and treated by other bees aged 4–6 days. These bees beat the pollen with their heads, so that it contains no more air, and add a secretion from their glands added. In this state a process of lactic fermentation begins, during which the protective layer on the pollen grains bursts.
In this way first fresh pollen and then „Perga“ is produced. This very demanding production chain is carried out by the bees in such a way that the pollen is well preserved and can be used for a long time.
The pollen in this state is called „beebread“. Without it, the bees would not be able to survive.
A bee flies 4–6 times a day back and forth and collects a pair of pollen granules within twenty to eighty minutes. The two pollen granules weigh 8–25 mg and contain an incredible amount of pollen grains, 3–4 millions. The contents of a single pollen cell is sufficient for rearing of two young bees. During the spring, a bee colony consumes about 5–6 kg of pollen.
Bees learn quickly
Fresh pollen is processed in the following manner:
- To collect the fresh pollen, the beekeeper must have specially adapted hives with a so-called pollen trap. A pollen trap consists of a collecting container and a star-shaped grid in. The pollen trap is placed behind the entrance of the beehive and each bee must to crawl through it. The pollen grains are caught by the pollen trap and fall into a collecting container. The containers are emptied daily and the collected pollen is dried and purified in 40 ° C warm air. Because the pollen is hygroscopic, eg. soaks in humidity, it contains shortly after the collection about 20 % of water.
It is very interesting to observe how sensitive the bees are and how they learn to get through by the pollen trap with a maximum amount of pollen, step by step. It shows how valuable is the pollen for the bees.
To acquire the Perga pollen is much more complicated. There are two methods:
- In the first method, a so-called cutter is used. It is a thin tube with the same diameter as a bee cell, inside with a thin wire. The cutter is inserted into the cell full of pollen, then filled with pollen and pulled out again. The pollen is eventually emptied by the help of of the wire into a collection container.
- The second method is simpler, but can only be used in a honeycomb which still contains undeveloped bee embryos. Such a honeycomb can be placed in the freezer. A frozen honeycomb is very fragile, falls apart easily and the pollen can be easily collected.
A bee colony consumes 25–40 kg of pollen per year. The pollen is brought in the hive by young, 15–17 days old bees. These bees are able to collect the pollen only for a few weeks. Then their wings become paralyzed and they die from exhaustion. A bee collects only 30–50 mg of pollen per day. To collect 25 kg is thus a very challenging process.
And another interesting information: neither the queen nor the drones can digest the pollen. They get the pollen from the young bees in the form of royal jelly.
Pollen as a cocktail of different substances
Pollen contains huge amount of protein, iron, calcium and phosphorus. It also contains minor amounts of potassium, magnesium, chlorine, copper, cobalt, silicon and sodium.
The pollen is very healthy due to the presence of unsaturated fatty acids, aminoacids and countless, especially to the skin and the mucous membranes. It promotes the growth of hair and supports also the formation of blood cells and the permeability of blood vessels. Its consistence changes gradually during his maturation process.
Therefore, the pollen is ideal for:
- reducing high blood pressure
- reducing elevated cholesterol levels in the blood
- supporting the production of red blood cells
- formation of bones, teeth and nerves
- a good bowel movement
- the prevention and treatment of prostate disease
- the treatment of infections of the upper respiratory tract
- healing of nervous disorders
- relieving digestive problems
And how should the pollen be used?
Small amounts of pollen can be eaten raw. It is recommended to take 1 to 3 teaspoons of pollen per day. For children and in preventive usage half of the dose is recommended. If you suffer from low blood pressure, it is ideal to take the pollen in the evening before going to bed.
Pollen can be taken mixed with water or cold tea or in yogurt or honey. It should not be mixed into heated food –content of vitamins would be reduced. It is not recommended to consume pollen when you suffer from renal diseases or cancer, and in the first three months of pregnancy.
Read about bee products:
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Propolis has been used already by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It was considered a versatile medicine with which the people have healed wounds on the skin and in the mouth. How do we use propolis today?