WTF? BEE POLLEN
I recently bought bee pollen at the Greenmarket because I am bi-curious about bee products. It is termed a SUPERFOOD! Meg Paska, the infamous Brooklyn Homesteader, who keeps bees (among other things) right here in Greenpoint, is kind enough to school us on bee pollen.
To learn more about DIY beekeeping in Brooklyn, on May 20th there will be a class at Hayseed’s Big City Farm Supply, a pop-up shop on India St dedicated to urban farming brought to you by Brooklyn Grange, Domestic Construction and Brooklyn Homesteader.
GP: What is bee pollen?
Meg: Pollen is a reproductive matter created by angiosperms (ground-dwelling flowering plants) to aid in species propagation. It’s made up of many small grains that contain the male gametes that are required for plant fertilization. Bee pollen is just pollen that has been collected and prepared by honeybees.
GP: How do bees make it?
Meg: Bees don’t actually make it. It’s harvested by the bees and prepared for storage. During foraging flights the bees pack the pollen from flowers into little beads, using nectar as a binder. The press the pollen onto their hind legs where tiny hairs hold onto it so that it can be transported back to the hive. Once brought home, the bees will pack it into a cell and cover it with nectar to help it ferment and keep for as long as it takes to be eaten.
GP: How to bee keepers harvest it?
Meg: Most beekeepers set up traps at the entrance of the hive to knock the pollen off of the bees legs on the way back in from foraging trips. They leave them set up for a couple of days so that they don’t do any real harm to the bees food stores.
GP: Do you personally harvest it?
Meg: I do, but very sparingly and usually only for personal use. This year I will be harvesting small amounts for members of my CSA!
GP: Why is it called a superfood?
Meg: Pollen often has a wide array of minerals and amino acids present in them, but like any product of the hive, the potency and nutritional content varies completely depending on the kind of plant if was harvested from.
GP: Is it healthy to eat?
Meg: It has lots of vitamins, protein and amino acids…though people who have serious allergies should consult their allergist before consuming it.
GP: How can we use it?
Meg: Many people will mix it with raw honey and eat a spoonful of it daily during allergy season. Some folks add it to smoothies. I like to use it as a seasoning…I grind it up and roll beads of ricotta or chevre in a mixture of pollen and herbs and eat those with crostini. YUM!