Bee Products

Chemical Composition and Application
  • Justin O. Schmidt


Honey bees are master chemists and chemical engineers. Their success in the animal kingdom is largely because of the chemistry and the application of their products: honey, beeswax, venom, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly. Three of these products, beeswax, venom, and royal jelly, are chemically synthesized by the bees themselves. The other three are derived from plants and are modified and engineered by the bees for their own use. The use of these products explains the amazing honey bee success: honey is used as a stable, reliable food source that serves during times of shortages, enables the bees to warm their nest during cold weather, and has allowed them to become perennial species that can exploit virtually all habitats in the world; beeswax is used as a pliable, stable and moisture-proof material with which to construct their nest, to store honey safely, and to rear their brood; venom gives honey bees the advantage of a formidable defense that is capable of stopping or deterring all but the most determined and capable of predators; propolis is an outstandingly good caulking for use in sealing the nest cavity and is also one of the best antimicrobial agents known; pollen is a nutrient-rich food that, like honey, can be stored in the hive indefinitely to serve as a reserve during times or seasons of shortages; and royal jelly is a balanced food source that does not spoil readily and is used to feed bee larvae. Without these unique products honey bees likely would have evolved to be little different from their ancestors—solitary bees in which each female bee during a brief season provisions a few cells with pollen and nectar for the next generation.


Chronic Prostatitis Royal Jelly Recommend Daily Allowance Amino Acid Polypeptide Estimate Daily Intake 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin O. Schmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA-ARSCarl Hayden Bee Research CenterTucsonUSA

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