Royal jelly helps queen bee live 40 times longer

April 25th, 2011 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 25 (IANS) Royal jelly is a thick, milky-white substance secreted by the glands of honeybees — and queen bees feed exclusively on it and live 40 times longer than others.

A miraculous nutrient in the milky liquid that makes up queen bees’ whole diet is responsible for their long life.

Their eating habits mean they become almost twice the size and more than double the weight of other female bees, despite having no genetic advantage, reports the journal Nature.

The active ingredient of royal jelly, the chemical brew produced from pollen and secreted from glands on the top of young nurse bees’ heads, also helps them become 42 percent larger and weigh 60 percent more than the rest, reports the Daily Mail.

Experiments on fruit flies and honeybees found the protein, royalactin, triggers molecules that are responsible for the increased body size and faster development of queen bees.

Both sets of insects grew larger, improved their reproductive capacity and lived longer after being reared on royalactin, Masaki Kamakura of Toyama Prefectural University, Japan, said: “The honeybee forms two female castes - the queen and the worker.”

“This dimorphism (difference) depends not on genetic differences, but on ingestion of royal jelly, although the mechanism through which royal jelly regulates caste differentiation has long remained unknown,” said Kamakura.

Royal jelly’s powerful properties have fascinated people for thousands of years, going back to the time of the ancient Egyptians who used it to keep their skin glowing. It was even used to help preserve the mummies.

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