Nature is such a beautiful thing that creates numerous natural by-products. In fact, honeybees play a massive role in nature, and the materials from a beehive can work wonders to heal and keep humans healthy. Believe it or not, bees produce more than honey. Knowing the differences between bee pollen, honey, and royal jelly is imperative to understanding the role of bees in the environment and the world as a whole.
As the most prevalent pollinators in the world, honeybees collect and spread pollen from flower to flower as they gather nectar to make honey. Although they collect it for themselves and the hive, they leave behind little amounts as they rest on plants and flowers. Interestingly enough, bees pollinate on accident without realizing their ever-important role in making the world go ’round.
How Bees Collect It
As previously mentioned, bees gather pollen on their back legs as they forage, and they pollinate as they move from flower to flower. However, they pack it away in their brood cells on the outside perimeter of the hive frame. Although the bees don’t make it, pollen from a beehive may contain bee saliva.
Although there are no definite human health benefits of bee pollen, it contains various vitamins and amino acids, making it a potential immune booster and overall vitality supplement. However, many doctors still recommend it as a natural treatment for diseases and syndromes such as:
- PMS symptoms
- Stomach issues
- Enlarged prostate
- Overall wellness/energy booster
There isn’t a standard dosage since there isn’t substantial evidence or research to support bee pollen as a treatment. Therefore, you should talk to your doctor if you plan to use bee pollen to supplement your health.
It’s also important to note that there are no food sources that contain bee pollen other than the pollen itself. Reputable sources such as Crystal’s Honey have bee pollen for sale that you can purchase and use as you please.
In the Hive
Once foraging bees bring pollen back to the hive and store it, they uncover and use it as needed. They mix the pollen with honey to produce bee bread, which is a fortified food source. Bee bread is the most common food source for workers, but nurse bees consume it the most in order to make royal jelly.
Honey is the most familiar substance that comes from a beehive, and it’s very common for humans to consume and use it in their daily lives. Whether you use it or not, you should know that honey is the only substance from an insect that humans can eat.
How Bees Make It
The honey-making process is very fascinating, and it all starts with nectar from flowers. Interestingly, nectar is approximately 75 percent water and 25 percent sugar. It consists of sucrose, glucose, fructose, and aromatic chemicals to help draw in bees.
- Firstly, bees search the area for nectar-rich plants and flowers. They suck nectar using their straw-like tongues, known as a proboscis.
- They store the nectar in the first chamber of their stomachs, where the enzyme invertase breaks down the sucrose into simpler sugars.
- Back at the hive, the forager passes the nectar on to another bee. They pass it from mouth to mouth around the hive until the water content drops to about 18 percent. At this point, mold and bacteria can’t grow.
- Next, the bees put it into honeycombs and fan it with their wings to further evaporate the water. Once the water content is as low as possible, the substance becomes honey.
- The bees cover the honey with wax caps and save it until they need it as a food source. Beekeepers can collect excess honey from the hive for human consumption.
Although processed honey doesn’t harbor the same benefits as raw honey, humans can benefit from honey consumption. Honey is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and it may help prevent or reduce the following ailments:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Autoimmune disorders
In the Hive
Honey is an essential food source within the hive, and the bees store it to get them through the winter when they aren’t foraging for nectar. In addition, they use honey in the spring and early summer to feed larvae and build up their population for the summer.
Royal jelly gets its name from its ability to promote a worker bee to the queen bee throne. It’s a secretion from worker bees that consists of simple sugars, fatty acids, amino acids, water, minerals, enzymes, vitamin C, and antibacterial and antibiotic components.
How Bees Make It
Interestingly, royal jelly comes from the hypopharyngeal gland located in the heads of young nurse bees. Unlike with pollen and honey, nurse bees feed royal jelly directly to the queen and larvae as they secrete it rather than storing it for later.
The human benefits of royal jelly are similar to those of other bee products, and it contains loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Consuming royal jelly may help with antiaging efforts, and it also may reduce symptoms related to:
- High blood pressure
- Chronic dry eyes
- Cognitive disfunction
In the Hive
In the hive, nurse bees feed royal jelly to all larvae during the first several days of development. They continue to provide it to the larvae chosen to become queens when they switch the other larvae to bee bread or regular honey.
While royal jelly and bee pollen have similar properties, royal jelly tends to have more potent effects as a result of its higher nutritional value. Therefore, the colony’s queen stays on a royal jelly diet to give her the extra nutrition she needs to continue laying eggs and boosting the population.
Consider purchasing bee products from your local beekeepers to support their efforts, or become a beekeeper yourself to boost the bee population in your area. Although all bee products have similar consistencies and properties, they all have distinct differences. Understanding the differences between bee pollen, honey, and royal jelly will help you become a better, more educated beekeeper or teach you about nature and how bees benefit the environment.