How Do Bees Make Royal Jelly? (Step-by-Step with Diagram)

Learn how bees produce royal jelly and its importance to the bee colony in this step-by-step guide with diagrams. Discover how bee workers collect nectar, mix it with enzymes, and store it in special wax cells.

Worker bees make royal jelly, starting with nectar and pollen they collect from flowers. They mix nectar and pollen with bee saliva to form "honeycomb,” which is then stored in the hive and fed to the queen bee. The queen secretes a special enzyme called royalactin, which helps transform the honeycomb into royal jelly.

Discover how bees create royal jelly step-by-step, with diagrams to help you along the way. Unlock the secrets of this fascinating process.


  • Royal jelly is made by worker bees for the queen bee to have a food source.
  • The production of royal jelly starts with the mixture of nectar and pollen in bee saliva.
  • The ester production and the fermentation are the last processes of making the royal jelly.

The Process of Making Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is a type of honey bee secretion that is used to feed larvae and adult queen bees. It is made by worker bees and is a high-energy food source for the queen bee. Here is a step-by-step guide to how bees make royal jelly:

1. Collecting nectar and pollen

Bees are one of the most important pollinators in the world, and their role in collecting nectar and pollen from flowers is essential to the production of royal jelly. Royal jelly is a special type of honey produced by bees as part of their hive-building process. It is created by combining nectar and pollen collected from flowers with enzymes and other substances produced by bees.

To produce royal jelly, bees will fly from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen from each one. They use their proboscis (a long, straw-like appendage) to extract the nectar, then store it in their honey stomachs. As they move from flower to flower, they will also collect pollen on their body and legs, which is then transported back to the hive.

2. Regurgitating the mixture

The nectar and pollen are mixed and regurgitated onto the mandibles of the worker bees, where they mix with the glandular secretions to form a thick, creamy substance. This substance is then fed to the queen bee and her young larvae. The larvae consume the royal jelly and are nourished by its nutrients and vitamins.

3. Secreting bee saliva

The worker bees then secrete a substance called β€œbee saliva” onto the nectar and add enzymes to it. Bee saliva is a major component of royal jelly, a highly nutritious and beneficial substance that is produced by honeybees.

Bee saliva is a mix of proteins, enzymes, and hormones that are secreted by the glands located in the head of the bee. These glands secrete a thick, viscous fluid that is used to line the cells of the hive, as well as to coat the larvae and eggs of the queen bee.

The proteins and enzymes in the saliva help the larvae and eggs to develop properly and give them the nourishment they need to survive. The hormones in the saliva also promote the development of the queen bee and help her maintain her reproductive ability.

4. Fermentation stage

The mixture used to make royal jelly is a combination of honey, pollen, and bee-gathered enzymes. It is typically made from raw, unprocessed honey, which is rich in minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. It is then combined with bee-gathered enzymes, such as diastase, invertase, and protease, as well as bee-gathered pollen.

The mixture is then allowed to ferment for several days in a jar or container, where it develops its thick, gooey texture. The fermentation process also helps to break down the proteins and sugars in the mixture, making them easier for the bees to digest and utilize.

5. Formation of the royal jelly

During the fermentation process, the royal jelly is formed by the action of the enzymes and the heat generated by the bees. The enzymes and heat cause the sugars and other compounds found in the royal jelly to break down into smaller molecules. This process of fermentation produces compounds called esters, which are responsible for the distinctive flavor and aroma of royal jelly. The esters also provide the queen bee with a rich source of energy and nutrition.

In addition to ester production, the fermentation process also produces substances such as alcohol, lactic acid, and acetic acid, which are responsible for the sour taste of royal jelly. These substances also act as preservatives, allowing the royal jelly to be stored for extended periods without spoiling.

The fermentation process also increases the bioavailability of the nutrients found in royal jelly, making them more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. During this process, the enzyme glucose oxidase produces hydrogen peroxide, which acts as an antiseptic, killing off any microbes that may be present.

The heat generated by the bees helps to further break down the proteins and lipids in royal jelly and also helps to activate many of the beneficial compounds found in royal jelly, such as flavonoids and phenolic compounds. The fermentation of royal jelly also improves its flavor and texture, making it more palatable for humans. In addition, the fermentation process helps preserve royal jelly for longer periods, allowing it to maintain its nutrient content.

6. Royal jelly is ready to be served

The royal jelly is stored in the honeycomb cells, which are made from wax produced by the worker bees. These cells are hexagonal and are used to store honey and pollen. The royal jelly is secreted into the cells and is then used to feed the larvae and the queen bee. When the larvae hatch, they are fed a diet of royal jelly. This helps them develop into adult bees quickly. The queen bee will also feed on royal jelly throughout her life, which helps her to stay healthy and produce more eggs.

The royal jelly produced by the worker bees is essential for the health and survival of the hive. Without it, the larvae would not develop properly, and the queen bee would not be able to produce eggs. It is also a valuable source of nutrition for the bees and helps to keep the hive healthy.

The Importance of Bees Making Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is a milky-white secretion produced by worker bees and is the exclusive food source for all bee larvae, regardless of their future role as a worker bee, drone, or queen. It is also fed to adult queen bees and is thought to be the reason why queen bees live much longer than other bees and are much larger.

Royal jelly is packed with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It contains protein, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins, including vitamin B3 (niacin). It is also rich in vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), which is important for growth, fertility, and a healthy immune system.

The importance of bees making royal jelly to the environment and humans cannot be overstated. In addition to providing essential nutrition to bees, royal jelly has many benefits for humans, including potential antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting properties, as well as the potential to reduce stress and improve cognitive function.

Royal jelly also plays an important role in pollination, which is essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems and crop production. Without bees, many of our crops would not be able to reproduce and would eventually die out, leading to a decrease in food availability and a decrease in biodiversity.

Can Humans Eat Royal Jelly? (7 Surprising Uses)

Royal jelly is another food source that beekeepers harvest in a bee colony besides honey and pollen. But is this creamy substance edible for humans?

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