Royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, the creation of a new queen
bee and the food for the adult queen bee throughout her life. Royal jelly is secreted from the glands in
the hypopharynx in the worker beesí head. Royal jelly is fed to all larvae in the colony regardless of
sex or caste during the first three days of life.
When worker bees sense the need for a replacement queen they choose several one, two or three day
old larvae and feed them large amounts of royal jelly in specially constructed queen cells. Feeding
larvae royal jelly beyond day three leads to queen morphology. Queen morphology includes the
development of egg laying ovaries.
Royal jelly is creamy in appearance and consistency with a strong astringent/acidy and very mildly
venomous flavour. Its quality is reasonably consistent and is influenced by the pollen diet and the
general health of the secreting bees. The quantity of royal jelly produced per queen cell varies
considerably based on the number of young nurse bees and the amount of food available. Abundant
pollen and nectar will maximise royal jelly production. Royal jelly typically consists of water (67%),
crude protein including many different types of amino acids (12.5%), simple sugars (11%) and fatty
acids (5%). Royal jelly also contains trace elements, some enzymes, antibacterial and antibiotic
components, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and trace amounts of vitamin C
Royal jelly is only collected by humans from queen cells where it is deposited in larger volumes and in
advance of larvae consumption. Well managed hives are able to produce up to 7kg of royal jelly pa
and production is over a 5-6 month spring and summer period.
The small amount of production and high requirement for labour for grafting queen cells and manually
extracting royal jelly means that the resultant product is expensive to produce.
Royal jelly is collected and sold as a human nutrition supplement and ingredient in cosmetic
preparations. Benefits claimed by marketers of royal jelly include improved health, increased body
mass, enhanced fertility and additional longevity. Cosmetics containing royal jelly are said to have
anti-aging qualities. In many countries, royal jelly has been promoted as a commercially available
medicine, health food, and cosmetic (as an emollient, moisturiser, and nourishing substance). It is used
in traditional medicine for longevity in Europe and Asia. Royal jelly has been sold as a skin tonic and
hair growth stimulant.