If you are a frequent reader of our blog, then you know just how fascinating honey bees truly are. In previous posts, we have talked about the role of the queen bee and how she differs from the other inhabitants of the hive. What we didn’t mention was how queen bees come to be in the first place!
One thing that many people don’t realize is that queen bees are made, not born. In fact, all bee larvae are created exactly the same. Worker bees, drones and future queens all have the same genetic makeup at their birth. So, how do queens become queens?
You Are What You Eat
You’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat.” In the case of the honey bee, this is absolutely true. The bees who become future queens are fed a strict diet of something called Royal Jelly. I mean, could a queen bee possibly eat anything else?
Let’s explore how queen bees are developed and learn about some of the potential benefits of Royal Jelly for human use.
So, what is Royal Jelly anyway?
Royal Jelly is a substance that is sometimes called “bee milk.” It is made up primarily of water, along with some proteins and sugars that make it highly nutritious. Royal Jelly is produced by glands found in the heads of worker bees and it is fed to all bee larvae for the first three days of their lives. After the three days, most larvae will stop eating Royal Jelly and begin a typical diet of honey, nectar and pollen throughout their development into adult bees.
Those special bees chosen to become potential queen bees continue to be fed Royal Jelly for the remainder of their lives. The nutrients found in Royal Jelly help the queens to grow large, often double the size of your typical honey bee, and have the energy to lay up to 2,000 eggs a day. These chosen larvae are also allowed to live their early days in longer cells called “queen cells” that aid in their development.
The nutrients in Royal Jelly also allow the queen to develop the ovaries and the behaviors she needs to begin laying eggs and take on her specific role in the hive. The worker bees will wait on her, feeding her and removing her waste, throughout her life.
How is Royal Jelly Different Than Honey?
A lot of people are not familiar with Royal Jelly as its own, unique substance. For many, Royal Jelly was just another kind of honey (a really good one, but still honey). While both are vital to the survival of the hive, they have different physical compositions and serve two very different purposes.
Honey is made up of two kinds of sugar. It is created when bees regurgitate the nectar they have collected, which then combines with a special enzyme to rehydrate it. Honey is eaten by all adult bees in the hive, excluding the queen bee of course. Royal Jelly, on the other hand, is made up of many vitamins, antioxidants and other minerals that make it much more nutritious. It is a white, milky substance, much different than the honey we commonly see.
What are the Potential Health Benefits of Royal Jelly?
In recent years, many of our health, beauty and nutritional products have begun to boast about the amazing benefits of Royal Jelly. Although there is debate over just how beneficial it is, the fact is that Royal Jelly has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions.
Products developed today include Royal Jelly for its potential as a collagen booster and its age-defying effects as well as for a general wellness aid. Research has not supported these health claims, yet many people still use Royal Jelly as a part of their health routine.
11 Potential Benefits of Royal Jelly
- Supports a healthy immune system
- Anti-bacterial properties for cuts and scrapes
- Reduces cholesterol levels
- Lowers blood pressure
- Supports healthy brain function
- Prevents symptoms associated with dry eye
- Regulates blood sugar levels
- Anti-aging effects
- Treatment for menopause symptoms
- Increases endurance and stamina
- Boosts fertility
Whether you want to learn more about Royal Jelly or not, we think it’s helpful to know more about honey bees and how they do the amazing things that they do! Have you ever used a product containing Royal Jelly? Did you notice any health benefits?