Bee Pollen
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Bee Pollen?

Bee pollen is the pollen collected by bees as they gather nectar from flowers for making honey. Like honey, bee pollen is used as a food by the hive. The pollen granules are stored in pollen sacs on the bees' hind legs. Beekeepers who wish to collect bee pollen place a screen over the hive with openings just large enough for the bees to pass through. As the bees enter the hive, the screen compresses their pollen sacs, squeezing the pollen from them. The beekeepers can then collect the pollen from the screen.

Bee pollen is very high in protein and carbohydrates, and it contains trace amounts of minerals and vitamins. 1 It is used in a number of traditional Chinese herbal formulas and is sold as a nutritional supplement in the United States and other countries. Although it has...

Bee pollen has been touted as an energy enhancer, and is sometimes used by athletes in the belief that it will enhance performance during competitions. However, there is no real evidence that bee pollen is effective and some evidence that it is not. 2 Bee pollen is also commonly taken to try to prevent hay fever on the theory that eating pollens will help you build up resistance to them. When used for this purpose, locally grown bee pollen is usually recommended; however, be aware that it is possible to have a severe allergic reaction to the bee pollen itself. Other proposed uses of bee pollen include combating age-related memory loss 3 and other effects of aging, as well as treating respiratory infections, endocrine disorders, and colitis. No scientific evidence supports any of...

Safety Issues

Several cases of serious allergic reactions to bee pollen have been reported in the medical literature, including anaphylaxis, 4 an acute allergic response which can be life threatening. The anaphylactic reactions occurred within 20 to 30 minutes of ingesting fairly small amounts of bee pollen—in one case less than a teaspoon.

The majority of these case reports involved people with known allergies to pollen.