Bee pollen may cause severe allergic reactions. If in doubt, consult your healthcare professional. Not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
BioBalance Bee Pollen is ethically sourced from a supplier in Christchurch and comes from beehives in the lower South Island of New Zealand, from the Rakaia River to North Otago. The proliferation of gorse, willow trees, dandelion and white clover in that part of the country combined with a dry temperate climate, provides an ideal environment for bees, in that there is a constant supply of pollen as well as easier conditions for beekeepers to collect pollen.
Our supplier Alastair is a beekeeper alongside wife Jane. He describes working with bees in the way that Kiwis do, as ‘a bit of a passion really’ and an occupation that keeps you on your toes. ‘They’ll certainly let you know when they don’t like something’ he quips, citing 20-30 stings a day as being something they’ve become used to.
Jane explains that (plastic) mesh is used in order to collect the pollen. While metal was once used and still is by some suppliers, Jane and Alastair favour the plastic mesh as it is a gentler mesh which ensures the bees are not harmed during pollen collection. As the bees enter the mesh, some of the pollen they have collected knocks off into a tray which when full, is taken away and frozen at -18 degrees celsius, air dried, cleaned and then frozen again. The reason for this, is that pollen is high in moisture and will go mouldy in a matter of days; it is also favoured by moths, so freezing and drying are both methods of preventing a pest infestation.
It must be said that bee pollen is quite beautiful to behold, especially that from New Zealand. The speckled blend of gold, yellow and orange hues with the odd glint of pea green is down to the wide variety of plant sources here, Alastair explains. Gorse bloom and dandelion yield intensely orange pollen, willow trees yellow and clover, brown. A trawl of beekeeping blogs turned up mentions of pink and purple pollen and sources such as tree fuchsias, tree lucerne and berry bushes being responsible – and it’s a source of lively debate! On the other hand, pollen from outside New Zealand will often be a uniform colour extracted from a single plant crop. The variety of plant sources in the region where Alastair and Jane get pollen from is not only good for colour though; it also ensures that there is plenty of pollen for the bees (which is their primary protein source) meaning no need to add extra food sources such as sugar syrup which some beekeepers need to do — also plenty of pollen means that any pollen extracted does not deprive the bees at all; Jane explains that a lack of pollen for the hive due to excess extraction is risky and bad for bees — she and Alastair have a deep understanding that if they don’’t take care of their bees, their hives will deteriorate and not survive the winter, so their bees’ health is the number one priority.
Bee pollen has a sweet taste and mildly chewy texture so it’s perfect for sprinkling on cereals, as a coating for bliss balls and some even mix it with spreads such as peanut butter. Added to smoothies it gives a mildly sweet flavour. It is advised not to cook it due to its nutrients potentially being lost.