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Royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of the larvae. It is secreted from the hypopharyngeal glands in the heads of young workers and used (amongst other substances) to feed all of the larvae in the colony, including those destined to become workers. If a queen is needed, the hatchling will receive only royal jelly - and in large quantities - as its food source for the first four days of its growth, and this rapid, early feeding triggers the development of queen morphology, including the fully developed ovaries needed to lay eggs. Some commercial royal jelly suppliers disseminate misinformation such as "Only queen larvae and adult queens are fed royal jelly"; the fact remains that all larvae in a colony are fed royal jelly, and adult bees do not consume it at all.
Royal jelly is produced by stimulating colonies with movable frame hives to produce queen bees. Royal jelly is collected from each individual queen cell when the larva is about four days old. It is collected from queen cells because these are the only cells in which large amounts are deposited; when royal jelly is fed to worker larvae, it is fed directly to them, and they consume it as it is produced, while the cells of queen larvae are "stocked" with royal jelly much faster than the larva can consume it. Therefore, only in queen cells is the harvest of royal jelly practical.
A well-managed hive during a season of 5-6 months can produce approximately 500g of royal jelly. Since the product is perishable, producers must have immediate access to proper cold storage (e.g., a household refrigerator or freezer) in which the royal jelly is stored until it is sold or conveyed to a collection centre.
This product is combined with honey, or beeswax for preservation, as it spoils easily.
Uses and composition
Human ingestion of Royal Jelly is reputed to cause severe even fatal allergic reactions in rare cases.
People collect and sell royal jelly as a dietary supplement, claiming various health benefits because of components like B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine); it can also be found in various beauty products. The overall composition of royal jelly is 67% water, 12.5% crude protein (including small amounts of many different amino acids), and 11% simple sugars, also including a relatively high amount (5%) of fatty acids. It also contains many trace minerals, some enzymes, antibacterial and antibiotic components, and trace amounts of vitamin C. Contrary to claims by many of those promoting its use, vitamins A, D, and E are completely absent from royal jelly. Independent research has already disproved, or is needed to confirm or disprove, many of the purported health claims, such as reports of hormonal activity (unknown in the bees themselves, the most abundant sterol is cholesterol, which is not itself a hormone). To date, there is only preliminary evidence that it may have some cholesterol-lowering effects, as well as immunomodulatory, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, wound-healing and antibiotic effects, though the last three of these effects are unlikely to be realized if ingested (digestion of the substances involved, or neutralization via changes in pH).
Royal Jelly has been reported to stimulate the growth of Glial Cells and Neural Stem Cells in the brain, which may account for its reputation as a longer-term cognitive enhancer and as a beneficial agent in cases of Parkinson's Disease.
Royal Jelly might be effective as an immunomodulatory agent in Graves' disease.
In popular culture
The short story Royal Jelly by Roald Dahl was published in the February 1983 issue of The Twilight Zone Magazine. This also became a Tale of the Unexpected.
Many computer games, such as NetHack and Paper Mario 2, contain "royal jelly" food items which usually give some sort of strength or health bonus when consumed.
In the comedy series Futurama, season 4, the Planet Express crew is sent to a space bee colony to collect space jelly. Leela takes royal jelly, and experiences hallucinations.
In the Aliens comic book series, "Royal Jelly" is produced by Queen Aliens and can be used to make new Queens. It also sometimes has hallucinogenic properties, and some variations have been used as a steroid.
In Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Dewey (John C. Reilly) sings a nonsensical song with the title "Royal Jelly".
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Royal_jelly". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|