Beekeeper stories, Bees

The Benefits of Date Palm Pollen, a Bee Keeper’s Story

Date palm trees

What exactly is bee pollen? It’s the pollen from the flowers and plants that the bees collect and form into little granules to feed the larvae and the queen bee in the hive. Heralded as a super food because of its vitamins, proteins, fatty acids, enzymes, and bioflavonoids. It has powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that strengthen the capillaries, reduces inflammation, and stimulates the immune system among many other things. I came to understand more of the specific qualities of date palm pollen when I visited Gabrielle Morley at her plantation in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia. There I discovered the beauty date palms have to offer the planet.

Bee hives

A True Date Palm

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is one of the oldest fruit crops going back at least 5000 years grown originally in desert environments like the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle East. This is the true date palm producing the dates for eating. Without dates, humans wouldn’t have survived the arid conditions of the desert which shows the trees resilience in harsh conditions. From early on, the cultivation of dates came to represent virility and fertility.

Canary Island Date Palms

Gabrielle grows over a 1000 Canary Island date palms Phoenix canariensis for commercial sale, used mainly in landscaping. She also has a small apiary with an abundance of medicinal plants for her bees to forage on along with the date palms. It’s the perfect environment to produce beautiful raw honeyThe trees originate from the Canary Islands and are well suited to the Australian subtropical and temperate climates. The dates are not so great tasting but the trees are beautiful and decorative and a great source of shade. You will often see Canary Island date palms lining roads or in parks and gardens.

date palm trees

Therapeutic properties of palm pollen

Fascinated by these trees and discovering the nutritious pollen is highly medicinal, Gabrielle began working with the bees to save her the labour of harvesting the pollen and to produce raw honey. That was three years ago and Gabrielle has extended her love and respect for the date palm tree and has fallen completely under the spell of working with bees. She explains how she came to discover the history, culture and the healing benefits of date palm pollen.

‘My curiosity was ignited a few years ago when my husband, Ronnie, and I were in the Maldives on holiday. We got talking to the maître d of the hotel and when he learnt of what I did for a living he told me it was because of the palm pollen’s fertility compounds that helped his wife to become pregnant’.

Gabrielle went onto learn of the Ayurveda practice acknowledging palm pollen as an aid to fertilty. From the Maldives Ron and Gabrielle travelled to Dubai and there in the souks she saw hanging, garlands of dried flowers, and she recognised them to be the flowers of date palms. Again there was talk of the date palm tree being highly potent and full of healing benefits.

Back in Australia she started researching the history and she tells me about Christopher Columbus in the 1500s loading his ships full of syrup from the date palm trees to keep his men strong and healthy. She connected with universities in the Middle East and was blown away by what she found and began to question why she hadn’t been aware of this before. Why the information is not more widely available. She says, ‘when it comes to natural remedies our culture knows nothing about a lot of things we should know about, we are like sheep with tunnel vision’.

The therapuetic properties of date palm pollen has been studied in other parts of the world too:

‘Date palm pollen (DPP), the male reproductive dust of palm flowers, has long been used as a dietary supplement to increase libido and improve fertility in both women and men. DPP is known to contain a variety of compounds including amino acids, fatty acids, flavonoids, saponins, and sterols. Several experimental studies, along with a few clinical trials, have evaluated the effects of DPP on the reproductive system. ‘ The US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health

If you take DPP as a supplement it is recommended you have some raw honey alongside it. You’ll get the  added natural health benefits of the raw honey, and it will mask the bitter taste of the palm pollen.

Always check with a doctor or clinician first if you have something wrong with your health.

Cross Pollination

Bees are strongly attracted to palm pollen and Gabrielle explained there are different varieties of date palms all with beneficial qualities but when you pollinate the male Phoenix canariensis palms with the Phoenix dactylifera the nutritional qualities increase even further. So with the pollen of the male and the seed of the female brings incredible value.

Lab research has been carried out on the seeds to see if there are anti-cancerous compounds based on observations made about the Bedouin culture. Bedouins lived in harsh environments and often used the seeds, dried from the dates, ground and boiled in water to drink like coffee. Some reports suggest there are anti-cancerous compounds in the seeds.

Gabrielle upon discovering this took to her kitchen and roasted and ground her own seeds. She had a cancerous growth on her lip for three years which was getting bigger, it was painful and she was due to have surgery to have it removed (and part of her lip also). She leeched the properties with emu oil and made a cream with beeswax and administered topically daily onto the lump. Three years of pain and the lump was completely gone in a week.

bee hives

I travel the world meeting with beekeepers and those connected to the production of raw honey and bee derived products working in a sustainable environmentally friendly way and I bring this experience and knowledge back to my work with Balqees. There, on her beautiful land near Byron Bay with her efficient system of beekeeping Gabrielle Morley made a positive impact. Not just because of her love of bees and the respect she shows for the raw honey production process but because of her knowledge and wisdom and complete understanding of nature’s way of healing. This truly impressed me. Gabrielle Morley is an inspiration.

Riath