Honey, propolis, and pollen are three important components of the beehive produced by honeybees mixing different plant parts (nectar, resin and pollen) with their own secretions, for further usage with different purposes in the hive. The fact that these natural products have been associated with numerous health benefits has attracted the attention of researchers resulting in a significant raise of scientific studies attesting their biological properties. Among the various constituents of honey, propolis and pollen, the phenolic compounds are the ones most frequently related to the beneficial properties of these products and hence, one of the main investigated groups. Their characterization is important to understand individual contribution(s) and synergistic effects of each compound for the overall biological effects of the bee product. To pursuit this goal, spectrophotometric techniques including HPLC, GC and TLC, alongside with the respective detection methods such as DAD, FLD and MS, have been developed and improved in order to offer better and more accurate separative performances.
The aim of this review is to give an approach on the course that the chromatographic techniques have taken until the most recent trends on this field applied to the separation and characterization of the phenolic constituents of honey, propolis and bee pollen as well as an overall perspective of variability in terms of phenolic composition that can be found in the three bee products mentioned.
Keywords: Bee pollen, Benzoic acids, Bioactive compounds, Caffeic acid derivatives, Chromatography, Cinnamic acids, Coumaric acids, DAD, Flavonoids, FLD, GC, Honey, Honeybee-derived products, HPLC, MS, Phenolic compounds, Propolis, TLC.