Why Is Royal Jelly So Expensive?

Uncover Why Royal Jelly Costs So Much

Why Is Royal Jelly So Expensive?
Raw Royal Jelly - CC BY-SA 3.0 ,by Waugsberg via Wikimedia Commons

What Is Royal Jelly?

Royal jelly is a special substance produced by worker bees within a hive, intended for the nourishment of potential queen bee larvae.

While all bee larvae initially receive royal jelly, only the designated queen continues to be fed this substance, while worker bees turn to a diet of pollen and honey.

Regarded as the beehive's "superfood," royal jelly is far more nutrient-dense than honey, offering a unique blend of vitamins, proteins, and other beneficial compounds.

What Is Royal Jelly's Price Per Pound?

The application of royal jelly goes beyond the hive, with human usage spanning from natural form to health supplements and even ingredients in skincare products.

Its rich nutritional profile can command prices of up to $125 per pound.

Extracting royal jelly, however, is a delicate and meticulous process. Unlike honey, it can only be harvested by hand, demanding great care and precision.

This manual extraction process highlights the distinct value and uniqueness of royal jelly in both the world of bees and human consumption.

Why Is Royal Jelly So Expensive?

The production of royal jelly is a complex and precise task that accounts for its high cost.

The process begins with a beekeeper establishing a mini-colony without a queen bee, ensuring that it consists mainly of young worker bees ready to function as nurse bees.

Following this, the beekeeper strategically places imitation queen cups within the colony.

These cups, fashioned from plastic or wax and shaped to fit the requirements for queen cell construction, are each filled with a honey bee egg, meticulously placed by hand.

The worker bees, driven by natural instincts and the absence of a queen, embark on the mission to raise new queens using the provided eggs and artificial queen cups.

They begin to fill these cups with royal jelly to nurture the larvae.

Timing is crucial at this juncture, as the beekeeper must extract the royal jelly from the queen cups between the second and fourth days of the larval development stage.

A specialized suction tool is used for this purpose. If the timing is not perfectly aligned, the amount of royal jelly may be insufficient for successful harvesting.

Through careful adherence to this intricate method, a beekeeper can collect approximately 500 grams (around 17 ounces) of royal jelly from a single hive over a season.

This labor-intensive procedure underscores the special nature of royal jelly, both in its biological role within the bee colony and its value as a human commodity.

Difference Between Royal Jelly and Honey?

Honey is a sweet, natural substance that consists of simple sugars, readily absorbable by the human body without requiring digestion.

It's produced by honey bees, which employ a specialized tongue-like straw to gather nectar from flowers and other plant structures that contain nectaries.

Upon collecting the nectar, the bees return to their hive and transfer the nectar to their fellow bees.

Through a process of repeatedly inhaling and exhaling the nectar, they mix it with an enzyme called invertase, secreted from a specialized organ known as the honey sac.

As the nectar undergoes enzymatic action within the hive, its polysaccharides break down into glucose and fructose.

Simultaneously, its water content diminishes to roughly 20%, leading to the formation of what is commonly recognized as mature honey.

Meanwhile the royal jelly, a substance resembling milk, is secreted by worker bees, and it primarily serves to nourish the queen bees and their larvae.

Unlike honey, royal jelly boasts a higher protein content and lower sugar levels.

Composed mainly of water, proteins, sugars, fats, and mineral salts, royal jelly contains up to 70% water, a significant difference from honey, which typically holds only about 20% water.

However, the full composition of royal jelly is still something of a mystery, and its nutritional content can vary depending on its origin and other factors.

A study published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Pharmacology highlighted some unique aspects of royal jelly's content.

This includes nine distinct glycoproteins, known as major royal jelly proteins, along with two specific fatty acids, namely trans-10-hydroxy-2-decenoic acid and 10-hydroxydecanoic acid.

Furthermore, royal jelly is enriched with a variety of B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, biotin, and folic acid.

This rich nutritional profile emphasizes royal jelly's unique role within the beehive, differentiating it from the more commonly known honey, and also explains its use in various health-related applications for humans.

Potential Health Benefits of Royal Jelly

1) Royal Jelly May Reduce Cholesterol

Researchers in Japan conducted an intriguing study to examine the impact of Royal Jelly on cholesterol levels. The study involved 15 volunteers who were administered 6 grams of Royal Jelly daily over a span of 4 weeks.

The results revealed a significant reduction in both total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, without affecting the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – often referred to as "good cholesterol" – or Triglyceride (TG).

This finding is promising for those aiming to reduce cholesterol levels while maintaining a healthy balance.

A separate investigation further explored Royal Jelly's effects, this time with subjects receiving a smaller daily dose of only 350 milligrams over a 3-month period.

The results were equally encouraging, showing a substantial decrease in total cholesterol (TC) and LDL-c levels.

The improvement in the levels of DHEA-S, as observed in the study, has the potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

These studies collectively highlight the promising potential of Royal Jelly as a natural substance that might play a significant role in cholesterol management and heart health.

2) Royal Jelly May Reduce Blood Pressure

Royal jelly has been observed to potentially have protective effects on the heart and circulatory system, particularly in the context of blood pressure reduction.

Research conducted in laboratory settings has shown that certain proteins found in royal jelly can have a relaxing effect on the smooth muscle cells within veins and arteries. This relaxation may lead to a decrease in blood pressure.

In addition to these test-tube studies, recent investigations using animal models have explored supplements that combine royal jelly with other substances derived from bees.

These studies have reported significant reductions in blood pressure. However, it's worth noting that the precise contribution of royal jelly within this mixed supplement is not yet fully understood.

Disclaimer: It's important to emphasize that professional medical advice should never be replaced by self-guided treatments or supplements. While vitamins and minerals may complement a diet, they are not meant to substitute a well-rounded, nutritious meal plan. If any symptoms continue, seeking the guidance of a healthcare professional is the appropriate course of action, rather than relying solely on supplements or personal judgment.