Royal jelly is a type of bee secretion that aids in the development of immature or young bees. It is secreted by the heads of young workers and used (amongst other substances) to feed the young until they develop to the desired rank. If a queen is desired, the hatchling will receive only royal jelly as its food source, in order that she will become sexually mature and have the fully developed ovaries needed to lay more eggs for the hive.
People collect royal jelly for a dietary supplement. It contains all of the B-complex vitamins, including a high concentration of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and is the only natural source of pure acetylcholine. Royal jelly also contains minerals, enzymes, hormones, eighteen amino acids, antibacterial and antibiotic components, and vitamins A, C, D and E.
A device is fitted on to the entrance of the hive which scrapes the secretion off the bees as they enter.
This product must be combined with honey for preservation, as it spoils easily. It should be kept refrigerated and tightly sealed.
For some animal rights advocates and other groups such as vegans, the collection of royal jelly for human use is considered unethical.