My local health food store offers a diverse line-up of bee products. The selection starts with honey, ventures into the more ambiguous – like bee pollen – and then gets outright confusing: what is royal jelly? You’ve probably seen or heard the terms bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis, but can you tell the difference? Read through the rundown of these “superfood” bee foods and learn exactly where they come from.
The most commonly known of the bunch, honey is a sweet and thick syrup-like substance that bees make in their hives. It derives from flower nectar. Bees collect nectar from surrounding flowers and return to their hives to store it in the cells of the honeycomb. Over the following days, a transformation occurs, resulting in honey.
Honey has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-septic properties. It is jam-packed with nutrition and a great way to naturally sweeten food.
2. Bee pollen
Bee pollen is exactly what it sounds like – it is the pollen that builds up on bees’ bodies. Pollen is full of minerals, vitamins, protein, lipids and carbohydrates.
Bee pollen mimics many of the benefits of honey and has long been used as a natural treatment against asthma, bronchitis, cancers, peptic ulcers, colitis, infections and hepatitis B.
This is where the terminology gets a little more mysterious. Propolis is a substance that bees create from resinous substances in tree buds and then secrete in order to help seal the cracks in their hives.
4. Royal jelly
Royal jelly has a milky-white appearance and a thick consistency. It is a combination of water, nectar and flower sperm and is produced by worker bees. Royal jelly is incredibly nutritious and is meant to serve as food for the drones and worker bee larvae to help them grow and mature. The queen bee subsists on royal jelly her entire life.
Royal jelly improves red blood cell production, glucose tolerance and mental health in humans.
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Photo Credit: Donald Windley