Flowering in my local area of the Illawarra are bottlebrush(Callistermon) and paperbark(Melaleuca d). They are both excellent nectar and pollen producers avidly collected by honey bees and birds. The former is a red and the latter a white pollen. Bees are attracted to the flowers visually, by scent and knowledge communicated by other bees via the waggle dance. As the bees fly to the flowers they build up a positive electrostatic charge so getting close to pollen on the flower will cause it to easily stick to the hairy bee. She(all workers are sisters) combs her body and collects the sticky pollen in her leg pollen baskets and flies home.

Beekeepers can collect fresh pollen by way of pollen traps at the entrance of the hive which must be collected and preserved(freeze or dry) daily to inhibit mould growth.

Pollen is highly nutritious and bees feed it to their larval brood in the hive. It is also an important food for humans as it is high in proteins and contains all the precursors of collagen. Easily digested and absorbed into the blood stream, 30gm or 2 tablespoons satisfies the daily requirement of protein for us. It also contains sugars, starches, lipids, enzymes, co enzymes, hormones, vitamins, minerals and trace elements in a bio available form. Pollen colours vary from species to species. Red and purples being flavonoids, yellows and oranges are carotinoids, both acting as antioxidants. Some have called pollen” the perfect food”and in the hive it is further enhanced by fermentation when stored with honey in comb cells called bee bread. People with allergies should test its use by eating very small amounts as in the worst case can lead to anaphylaxsis.

Bee bread has been used by many peoples in the past and is still eaten in Russia and Eastern Europe. Dried pollen may be processed to be similar to bee bread by combining honey and pollen (60:40) ratio and leaving for 2 weeks in a warm place. Turning periodically will cause fermentation to take place as in the bee hive. Eat 1-2 teaspoons / day.

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