After a poor year for bees and honey production we wrapped our bees for the winter with a mixture of trepidation and hope. Similar to most farmers in Alberta this fall we are praying that 2020 be a much better year.
One of the highlights of 2019 was attending Apimondia in September. It was an ideal place to learn more about Royal Jelly, that magical substance worker bees make for their revered queen. Royal jelly is a white, creamy substance made by attendant bees and emitted from the hypo pharyngeal gland located in their head. At Apimondia we learnt more about it’s health properties and how it is harvested. One presentation made the interesting point that humans have more uses for Royal Jelly (RJ) than do honey bees! Whereas the bees require RJ for nutrition (which determines caste) and immunity, humans use RJ against diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension, cancer, depression, dementia and other ailments, as well as for skin care. Whereas many of the historic reasons for RJ consumption have been part of cultural folklore (i.e. for fertility, virility, anti-aging) there is now much more scientific research being done to support or debunk these claims. Of the main components of RJ (water, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and lipids), proteins are by far the most complex and where most of the research is focused. Scientists have found strong evidence of RJ’s anti- microbial, anti- cancer, anti-oxidant and anti-depressant properties. More research is needed – it’s clear that Royal Jelly has a lot of potential as a natural healer. Next month we’ll discuss how Royal Jelly gets from the bee hive onto our store shelf.