What is Bee Pollen?
Bee pollen is a ball or pellet of field-gathered flower pollen packed by worker honeybees, and used as the primary food source for the hive. It consists of simple sugars, protein, vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, and other components. Bees spread pollen from flower to flower, fertilizing plants so that they produce berries, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. More than 100 crops grown in the US are pollinated by honeybees!
What are the benefits?
Allergies. Bee Pollen possesses an impressive attribute in its ability to reduce allergic reactions in animals, and humans too! Leo Conway, M.D., of Denver Colorado, treated his patients with pollen. He reported: "All patients who had taken the antigen [pollen] for three years remained free from all allergy symptoms, no matter where they lived and regardless of diet. Control has been achieved in 100 percent of my earlier cases and the field is ever-expanding.” These results are incredible, and although this study was done on humans, pet parents see amazing results when they feed their dogs bee pollen as well.
Improves vitality. Some canine athletes are fed raw, unprocessed bee pollen from local beekeepers to improve their strength, endurance, stamina and energy. There are some pet owners who will just give it to their pup as a supplement since bee pollen helps speed up recovery from illness or injury, stimulates the immune system and improves intestinal function.
Helps prevent cancer. In 1948, the Department of Agriculture published the article "Delay in Appearance of Palpable Mammary Tumors in C3H Mice Following the Ingestion of Pollenized Food". This article contained details of a study led by Dr. William Robinson of the US Bureau of Entomology.The reported results in the article were of a trial in which a strain of mice were bred specifically to develop and die from cancerous tumors. Mice would develop tumors when they were between 18 to 57 weeks of age and die shortly after. This study examined the effects of "bee gathered pollen" on these tumors. One group of mice was fed mice chow only. Another group was fed mice chow spiked with bee pollen at a ratio of 1 part bee pollen to 10,000 parts food. Here are the results:
- Mice that didn’t receive bee pollen developed mammary tumors at an average of 31.3 weeks. Tumor incidence was 100% and they all died.
- Mice given bee pollen developed tumors around 41.1 weeks… roughly 30% later than mice that ate mice chow only.
- Seven mice in the bee pollen group had still not developed a tumor at 62 weeks of age when the tests ended.
Bioavailability. Approximately half of bee pollen’s protein is made up of free-form amino acids that are immediately absorbed and utilized in the body requiring no digestion. Bee pollen is also high in rutin, a bioflavonoid, that protects against free radical damage and has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Bee Pollen vs Honey
Honey provides 17 grams of carbs and 64 calories per tablespoon, but it's not a good source of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Bee pollen is composed of about 55 percent carbs and 30 percent protein, which makes it a better protein source than honey. Some honeys will actually contain bits of bee pollen in it, though! Raw, local honey will have many other nutritional benefits, but bee pollen is used most for allergies.
How to use
With any new addition into the diet, especially a supplement like bee pollen, you will want to start very slow. Although bee pollen is supposed to help with allergies, dogs can still have an allergic reaction, so go slow! Start with a single grain of bee pollen and attentively check your dog’s response. If he shows no symptoms of intolerance or discomfort, give two grains the next day, and slowly increase the amount over several weeks to a dose of 1 teaspoon per 30 pounds of body weight per day, mixed with food. Commonly, bee pollen is also mixed with honey, which you can feed your pup as well in small doses as long as it is raw, local honey or manuka honey.
Before trying out bee pollen with your own pup, it’s important to keep in mind a couple of things. Bee pollen should always come from local bees-- avoid inexpensive, imported, heat-processed pollen in favor of raw, unprocessed pollen from local beekeepers. Lastly, remember you will want to start with small doses as I mentioned previously so that you do not shock your pup. Bees often get a bad reputation because they sting, but they create some of the world’s most valuable, versatile products with amazing health benefits. Dogs’ allergies tend to worsen during Spring and Summertime, so there is no better time than now to test bee pollen out with your pup!