Colourless Flavonoids in Pollen
Separations Now, 4/5/2010
Pollen is the unique source of all the nutrients that bees require for healthy growth. They use it to feed themselves as well as the larvae in the hive and without it, the hive would perish. Bees collect pollen from flowers and mix it with a sticky secretion from their stomachs, so that it can be stored in pollen baskets on their legs for transport to the hive.
Bee pollen is a mixture of plant pollen, bee saliva and nectar and is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids, pigments, vitamins and minerals. The actual composition and proportions of the various components of a particular pollen, like honey, are related to the distribution of the source plants. These components fix the composition so that quality control standards can be established and subsequent adulteration of the products can be detected.
This is an important factor because bee pollen, just like honey, has been used for millennia as a dietary supplement by humans. Many declarations have been made regarding the health benefits but, tellingly, the US FDA does not allow pollen marketers in the United States to make health claims, as there is currently no scientific basis for these.
The pigments present in bee pollen, consisting primarily of flavonoids and anthocyanins, account for the variation in colour of pollen and honey. However, other non-coloured flavonoids can also be present. and their presence in one particular bee pollen has attracted the attention of Iberian researchers.
Federico Ferreres from the University of Murcia at Espinardo in Spain and David Pereira, Patricia Valentao and Paula Andrade from Porto University, Portugal, became interested in bee pollen from the plant Echium plantagineum, also known as Paterson's curse. It is an invasive weed found in southern Europe and its bee pollen has been extensively studied. However, no work has been carried out on the phenolic compounds, including flavonoids, which might be present…
The research team declared that this is the first time that non-coloured flavonoids have been reported from this pollen and the value of HPLC for isomer separation and mass spectrometry for isomer identification has been illustrated.