Perga, also known as bee bread, is probably one of the lesser known bee products. It is made from fermented pollen that is mixed with honey, enzymes, and other high-value substances.
How it’s Made and Harvested
The bees gather pollen and compress the individual grains with their heads into a mass. The mass is then layered with honey and the secretions of the bee glands. These secretions include various enzymes and funghi. Over 80 are specialized yeast species, and 39 species are ´good´ bacteria, including Lactobacillus. The combination of all these ingredients contribute to perga´s special healing ability. It is believed that its healing power is 9 times more effective than that of raw pollen.
Once the ´bee bread´ is made, it is stored in the honeycomb. When the cell is about 3/4 full, a drop of honey is added to seal the mass from the air. This leads to the fermentation of the lactic acid during which the protective coat of the pollen grains burst open. As a result, the pollen becomes up to 50% more digestible. Fermentation takes about 15 to 21 days. The lactic acid produced during the fermentation process together with the other compounds gives perga its antibiotic properties and ensures longer preservation.
There are several ways to harvest perga; The easiest method is to grind the honeycombs filled with perga and mix it with honey. A more industrial method is to freeze the perga-filled honeycombs before breaking them up mechanically. The wax is peeled off and separated mechanically, leaving pure hexagonal granules of bee bread.
Perga is made up of a number of different chemicals, including essential oils, waxes and resins. It is rich in vitamins D, C, B1, B2, B6, A, P and E, and contains trace elements of magnesium, zinc, iodine, iron, calcium potassium and a range of amino acids. Although the composition in bee bread is not always the same since pollen is collected from different plants. However, the secreted types of enzymes, acids, vitamins and micro-elements are always present.
These ingredients give perga its signature golden color and make it resistant to mould and rot. It is the only bee product that has undergone lactic acid fermentation in the hive. What is particularly special, is its unique chemical composition, which makes it both durable and flexible. As a result, perga plays an important role in both the bee hive, and in human industry.
Nutritious Food and Hive Health
Perga is a nutritious food for bees made of simple sugars, protein, minerals and vitamins, fatty acids, and a small percentage of other components. Within the hive, perga plays an important role in the development of young bees. The nutrients in perga help to support the growth and health of bee larvae.
The main component of perga or bee bread is Beeswax, which is responsible for its protective properties. Propolis is another key ingredient, giving it antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Perga is also used by bees to produce propolis, a substance used to seal cracks and repair damage in the hive. Together, these substances work to keep the hive healthy and the bees safe.
Perga not only provides a structure for the honeycomb, it also helps to protect the honey from evaporation and mold growth. Its chemical properties allow it to function as a protectant against parasites, predators, and disease. It helps regulate the temperature of the hive, providing insulation against the cold, helping the bees to survive during the winter months and keeping them cool in summer.
Humans also use perga or bee bread for its health benefits. It is commonly taken as a dietary supplement or added to smoothies and other foods. Because it is such a nutrient-rich food, it provides numerous health benefits including improved digestion, reduced inflammation and enhanced immune function. Studies have shown that it can also improve cognitive function and memory.
Naturopaths highly recommend perga for people suffering from digestive and hepatic illnesses including urinary disorders and especially prostate issues. It is best to use fresh perga instead of dried as the drying perga can destroy the naturally occurring live enzymes, as well as many vitamins and bioflavonoids.
In addition to its role in the hive, perga is also used in a variety of other products, candles, and polish, including as a food additive and as a base for perfumes and cosmetics.
In vitro and in vivo studies have proven that perga has considerable pharmacological properties. One study has demonstrated that perga has several health benefits and can improve running performance of athletes. The same study also showed that bee bread can improve vision, significantly improve blood parameters in those suffering from liver problems, and lower cholesterol levels.