How to process raw honeybee pollen into food for humans


Pollen is one of the products of the beehive that the beekeeper can collect to increase his/her income from beekeeping. Pollen is often called the "super food". High performance athletes are quoted as eating pollen because of its high energetic power.
Each pollen grain carries a variety of vitamins, proteins and minerals, making pollen a very important source of nutrients for us. Pollen also contains the 22 essential amino acids that the human body needs every day. This technology explains how to process raw pollen into ready food for humans.


Pollen is composed of 40-60% simple sugars (fructose and glucose), 2-60% proteins, 3% minerals and vitamins, 1-32% fatty acids, and 5% diverse other components.

Bee pollen is a complete food and contains many elements that products of animal origin do not possess. Bee pollen is richer in proteins than any animal source. It contains more amino acids than beef, eggs, or cheese of equal weight. About half of its protein is in the form of free amino acids that are ready to be used directly by the body.

Bee pollen can also be used medicinally for a wide range of conditions from prostate health to skin conditions and can help correct specific nutritional imbalances within the body.

1. How to preserve pollen to be consumed later

To avoid spoilage,  fresh pollen should be dried or frozen within few days of collection.   A simple drying method uses a regular light bulb (20W):

1. Spread the pollen evenly in one layer on a carton or a tray.  

2. Remove any visible debris (parts of bees, little stones, etc.).

3. Suspend the light bulb high enough above the pollen so that the pollen does not heat to more than 40º or 45º C.  

Pollen can also be dried using a solar drying system. The pollen itself should be covered to avoid direct sunlight and overheating. A simple way to make a pollen solar dryer is using a box, of any kind of clean material, with a thin layer of pollen on the bottom and cover it with an opaque cover to avoid sunlight to damage the good properties of pollen.  The box should be placed in the sun during the day and taken inside if the humidity during the night increases too much.

The time needed to dry the pollen varies depending of the place where you are so the best is to turn the pollen everyday until you feel the pollen pellets are dry.

2How to store pollen

It is important to store pollen correctly to avoid spoilage and/or avoid losing the nutritional value of pollen.  As mentioned earlier, fresh pollen stored at room temperature deteriorates because of bacteries and funghi that can start growing on the pollen. Therefore, fresh pollen should be frozen or dried within a few days of collection.  Stored in a freezer, pollen will keep most of its nutritive value up to one year. When dried to less than 10% (preferably 5%) moisture content at less than 45°C and stored out of direct sunlight and in an airtight container, pollen can be kept at room temperature for several months. Dried pollen may be refrigerated at 5°C for at least a year or frozen to –15°C for many years without quality loss.

Since sunlight, i.e. UV radiation, destroys the nutrient value of pollen, other more subtle characteristics probably suffer worse damage. Storage of dry pollen in dark glass containers, or in dark cool places, is therefore a requirement.

3. Quality control

Only a few countries, such as Switzerland and Argentina, have legally recognized pollen as a food additive and established official quality standards and limits.

Since air pollutants and agro-chemicals have been shown to accumulate in pollen collected by bees, pollen should originate from unpolluted areas with the lowest chance of contamination by agrochemicals, industrial pollutants and drugs applied by beekeepers. Pollen should not be collected during and several weeks after the foraging area has been treated with pesticides.  Bees visit plants over a distance of 3 up to 10 km around the hive, so ensure that in that area, no pesticides have been used. 



Further reading

Value added products of the beehive” :

See also the TECA discussion on apitherapy

Created date

Mon, 30/05/2016 - 16:45


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
FAO's mandate
Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts - to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
FAO's mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.

Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO)
El mandato de la FAO
Alcanzar la seguridad alimentaria para todos, y asegurar que las personas tengan acceso regular a alimentos de buena calidad que les permitan llevar una vida activa y saludable, es la esencia de las actividades de la FAO.El mandato de la FAO consiste en mejorar la nutrición, aumentar la productividad agrícola, elevar el nivel de vida de la población rural y contribuir al crecimiento de la economía mundial.

Organization des Nations Unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture
Le mandat de la FAO
Atteindre la sécurité alimentaire pour tous est au coeur des efforts de la FAO - veiller à ce que les êtres humains aient un accès régulier à une nourriture de bonne qualité qui leur permette de mener une vie saine et active.
Le mandat de la FAO consiste à améliorer les niveaux de nutrition, la productivité agricole et la qualité de vie des populations rurales et contribuer à l’essor de l’économie mondiale.