I stopped at a rest area in upstate NY and picked up a couple of bottles of local honey. I love that stuff (even started a thread on it), but hadn’t been up that way since before the pandemic. Unfortunately they didn’t have the one with the mass of wax in it. Anyway, I had budgeted $100 and only spent about $70 on the honey, so asked about the $27 orangy crust in the bottle. The sales guy told me it was bee pollen, and listed out the supposed benefits (particularly of his type that was way better than what one can find elsewhere). I asked him how much I should consume, and he said 1 teaspoon per day. That should last me about 2 weeks, as the bottle was pretty small. He suggested sprinkling in yogurt, which I just did for lunch. It tastes pretty good, and is actually springy and not crusty as it appears. Any other ideas on how to consume it? I’m still waiting for all the health benefits to kick in. It’s already been an hour!
Aside from occasionally causing allergic and even anaphylactic reaction, bee pollen isn’t remarkable for anything.
“One site claims ](Bee Pollen Superfoods and Longevity)you will live to 125 from eating bee pollen, and is complete with the typical anecdotes about some village in the Caucasus mountains of Russia who eat bee pollen and live to be 125. These are the same people that were used to sell the health benefits of eating yogurt (and still are). This claim linking their longevity to bee pollen is repeated endlessly on bee pollen sites, and all refers back to the work of Dr. Nicolai Tsitsin, a Russian botanist from the first half of the 20th century. I could find nothing substantiated about these reports – it seems to be bee pollen legend.”
Isn’t bee pollen just plant sperm harvested by bees? There’s no reason to suppose it would be any more beneficial than any other sperm, and it might be easier to obtain sperm from other sources.
In the 1980s it was a diet fad.
Yes, my mother ate pollen in the 80s too and gave the rest of the family some. It didn’t kill us, but I would not have missed it. It probably did no harm either.
She had a heart condition that killed her in the end (when else?) and she grasped at every straw. I saw it like homeopathy (into which she was too, but spared the rest of us with): it assuages the mind, does nothing - no harm, no good.
And even later. I was on a business trip to New Zealand in the mid 1990s and some woman had me bring back a bottle of some bee pollen and some royal jelly that was supposed to cure everything up to and including yaws.
Speaking of apiarical produce, did you read about the hive that had no exits?
It was unbelievable!
Just like the touted benefits of bee pollen.
OK. But from your article:
What’s really dangerous is the fact that the FDA found two undeclared chemicals in some brands of supplements.
But back in Spain in the 70s (did I say the 80s? I meant the 70s. Never mind) those would not have been the problem, would they? The article does not even say which chemicals were the problem, I guess they did not exist back then. Progress! Now they have been made! Anyway: I survived my mother’s health crusade. So far.
That just makes it more powerful.
I don’t know if it’s supported by scientific studies but isn’t there some claims that say eating local honey and bee collected pollen supposed to help those who suffer from seasonal pollen allergies?
That’s the hypothesis, but it’s not been supported by scientific evidence.
Has it been studied and shown not to work, or has it not been studied?
Because it turns out that eating peanuts reduces peanut allergies, so it’s at least plausible.
A smattering of studies have shown no benefit.
here’s an article on honey for allergies reviewing the claim and some studies on it. It too finds no real effectiveness overall in most investigations.
Thanks! I wonder if they publish the actual data behind their conclusions. Perhaps statistically, there is no significant improvement to the group, as a whole. But could a certain proportion of the study group , say 5%, experience benefits in excess of placebo effect, even if the stats don’t.warrant a recommendation for everyone? Perhaps this warrants its own thread, but I often wonder if YMMV doesn’t get factored enough into published conclusions.
Speaking as a beekeeper/horticulturalist, not an allergist, the local honey for hayfever thing always sounded very unlikely to me, once you get below the surface. The pollen in honey is unlikely to be the same pollen that’s causing allergies, even if it is locally sourced.
The first reason is that the flowers bees mainly visit are generally not the same ones that cause allergies. Allergies are usually triggered by airborne pollen: plants that rely on this don’t normally attract bees, as they don’t produce nectar. While bees do collect pollen from things like grasses and willow, this is pretty limited and tends to be mainly when there’s nothing much else around from which they can get both nectar and pollen in one visit- so not when honey is being made, which only happens when a large quantity of nectar is being collected at once (‘when there’s a flow on’, in beekeeper parlance). Even if some airborne type pollen was being collected at the same time as large quantities of nectar, possibly at the start or end of a flow, when the pollen needs of the hive may ramp up due to extra larvae, it would probably not wind up in the honey to a significant degree, as they’re stored separately in the hive. A bee that’s collected both (which would be from a flower not likely to be an allergy trigger) would be more likely to get some pollen mixed in with the honey, one just collecting pollen won’t go into the area where nectar’s being condensed and stored, so it’d be a trace just getting passed around the hive that made it in there, if anything.
Analysis of the pollen in honey does bear this out; there’s been a widespread study in the UK getting beekeepers to send in a sample for analysis, trying to work out what honeybees are foraging on from pollen ID. Grass/airborne tree pollen, the classic allergy triggers- haven’t even been listed as present in any of the analyses I’ve seen, though they could have part of the mixed pollen not IDed due to only being there in tiny quantities.
There’s also the fact that by the time you the honey is even ready for harvest- forget getting it on the shelves- it’s at least a couple of weeks, and usually a month or more since it was collected. By the time you eat it, it’ll be a totally different range of plants flowering out there.
It does taste nice though, so there is that.
Thanks – that makes a lot of sense. I don’t have hayfever, so I’ve heard the claim, but never seriously engaged with it.
How about bee-collected pollen? Would bees collect that from ragweed or oaks, or would it all come from plants that don’t tend to spew their pollen into the air?
Uhh, good question. The pollen harvest devices basically knock it off as they enter the hive, so probably, yes, as honeybees do collect some airborne pollen- I’m in the UK, so we have different species, but it’s normal to see honeybees early on in the year on willow and hazel catkins, collecting pollen.
Unlike honey, honeybees don’t store much excess pollen (it doesn’t keep nearly so well), they collect mostly to order, when they have lots of larvae to feed, which is often just before the seasons when lots of nectar is around, to have as many workers as possible during a flow. I’ve never done pollen collection myself, as it’s all too easy to take too much.
Not all pollens have the same nutritional content, so I guess that would also have an impact. Supposedly airborne pollen is generally lower in protein, which makes sense I guess as it needs to be lighter- it might have more trace nutrients though. I guess it depends what else you have in the area, and when various things flower. If commercially produced bee pollen contains much airborne type is a whole 'nother question…
I’m quite tempted to go get some and see what I can work out- I may have access to a decent microscope and a pollen guide…
The major pollen source in my back yard is oaks. When the oaks are in bloom, everything gets covered with a layer of yellow dust. This spring i wore a face mask when i did yard work, there’s so much of it in the air. (I’m not allergic, but breathing too much of anything is problematic.) I can’t recall ever seeing bees work the catkins, but ever since the great honey bee die-off (from some parasitic mite, i believe) i rarely see honey bees, and the oak catkins tend to be up high, where i might not notice insects.
So this morning I threw out the 95% or so left in the bottle. I started noticing a kind of nasty smell the last time I put it in my yogurt. Then my fridge started smelling like it, even when the bottle was closed.