Although bees are know for their amazing pollination and delicious honey, they bring more to the table than you might think. In addition to the sugary liquid gold we all love, they also produce something called Royal Jelly. Not only is is used to feed larva, it is the primary food source for young queens and is also used as a dietary supplement by humans. So what is royal jelly? Here is a little more about this amazing life source.
Royal jelly is secreted from glands located in the heads of worker bees. Once it is produced, the workers feed it to the larva as well as a few special larva, one of which will be the new queen bee. Although they both are feed the royal jelly, the larva only get it for the first three days whereas the queens are “stocked” with the jelly and it is the only thing they eat. The jelly is full of nutrients that are absolutely necessary in helping the queen develop ovaries needed to lay eggs. Since the queen is about twice the size of the rest of the bees in her colony and she lives 5 to 8 years, it is imperative that she receives the jelly. Worker bees start producing royal jelly when their current queen is either weak or already dead. Although the workers pick out a few eggs to treat as queens, only one will actually make it to her throne. This helps ensure that their colony will thrive and they will not have to swarm in order to find a new home.
Aside from its use inside the hive, royal jelly is also used as a dietary supplement for humans. It is loaded with probiotics which are essential supporting a healthy immune system. It is also used to aid fertility, energy levels and healthy skin. Although the FDA doesn’t acknowledge it as a medication, royal jelly has also been used to combat diabetes, liver disease, cancer and even osteoporosis. Similar to honey, it can also be used as a topical treatment to heal wounds. When applied, royal jelly supports the migration of fibroblasts, which is one of the most important factors during the healing process. For those who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, royal jelly has also shown positive effects on healing oral mucositis.
Although royal jelly isn’t as well known as honey, it is quite possibly the single most important component of the life of bees. Without it, larva wouldn’t morph into queen bees and they would ultimately cease to exist. As modern medicine advances, it is being used more and more in order to treat a wide array of aliments. From common diseases to topical healing, it is without a doubt that royal jelly is a precious resource.