In many locales, bee pollen is collected in pollen traps by beekeepers and is sold as a health food. Pollen is high in protein, and as such, is also a very important source of bee nutrition. This protein content, as well as the fact that pollen is usually somewhat damp when collected, means that it is also subject to degradation if not stored properly. Molds–and the toxins they produce–then have the potential to compromise the health of human and bee pollen consumers alike.

Pollen samples collected for analysis at San Juan College, Farmington, NM

Researchers in Serbia found traces of mold in 38% of samples, but found aflatoxin in 100% of pollen samples collected in different regions of Serbia. Aflatoxins are poisonous and cancer-causing toxins produced by several molds, mainly Aspergilus sp., and are common in improperly stored staple agricultural goods.

This may be an area to investigate with Monarda, as extracts of thyme have already been shown to inhibit mold growth and fermentation in hives.