Although bees are the only insects that benefit human beings, production of royal jelly and honey is not for our pleasure alone. They are vital to bee survival. Royal Jelly is a milky-white, rich, nutritional substance secreted by worker bees and fed to all bee larvae. It is overfed to the larva chosen to become a queen bee and, throughout her life, remains a queen's sole source of nutrition. Honey, on the other hand, is a byproduct of nectar collected by worker bees and consumed by all adult bees other than the queen.
Nicknamed for its ability to put a queen bee on the throne, royal jelly is secreted from the hypopharyngeal glands found in young worker bees. It consists mainly of water, amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids. It also contains trace minerals, enzymes, antibacterial and antibiotic components, and trace amounts of Vitamin C. In addition to promoting a bee larva to royalty, all young larvae feed on royal jelly exclusively in their first four to five days of existence.
Honey is a sugar product, consisting primarily of two simple sugars—dextrose and levulose—in water. Bees create it by regurgitating and re-hydrating nectar they collect, using the enzyme invertase to accomplish the task. Honey contains anywhere from eleven to twenty-two amino acids, including the eight amino acids essential for human growth and development.
In the Hive
Royal jelly and honey are vital to bee survival. The one feeds the young and the queen, while the other feeds the rest of the colony. This is most important in locations where flowers go dormant in winter and do not produce nectar. Additionally, honey serves as a patch in the honeycomb structure along with the comb's main building component, propolis.
Listing the proven and potential benefits of royal jelly and honey borders on the impossible. Given its concentration of protein, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins and amino acids and the fact that it exists to promote growth, royal jelly is associated with supporting your immune system, benefiting liver, kidney and pancreatic diseases, among other ailments and conditions. Honey boasts anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial power for skin abrasions and sore throats and finds popularity among people with allergies. Ingesting locally harvested honey builds up your immunity to local allergens.
Royal jelly is the only natural source of acetylcholine outside of the human nervous system. A neurotransmitter found in both the peripheral and central nervous systems, acetylcholine helps cells relay messages in the body and is essential for memory process and learning. Royal jelly is also the only known source of 10-hydroxy-2dekenoic acid (10-HAD), which has been tested in anti-cancer activity, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
Patricia has a diverse background in a variety of industries in which she has applied her writing, proofreading and editing skills. She has contributed to "Crested Butte Weekly", "Center for the Arts Crested Butte", "Friends of Snodgrass Mountain", "The Alpineer" and "Crested Butte Magazine". She has a bachelor's degree in English from UC Berkeley.