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1 Jane Goodall: We need to find the essentials of survival. Food, water, and shelter.
2 Terry: We're in a beehive, so shelter's taken care of. Bees keep the hive at a constant temperature.
3 Jane Goodall: Right. And there's honey and royal jelly.
4 Steve: Crikey! If I eat royal jelly won't I turn into a bee?!
4 Jane Goodall: We can only hope.
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Royal jelly is a substance excreted from glands on the heads of worker bees. It's mostly water, mixed with various proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, and sugars. One of the several different proteins is called royalactin, and it is this which is responsible for controlling the growth of selected bee larvae to induce them to turn into reproductive queen bees.
Royal jelly is normally fed to all bee larvae in a honeybee hive. But when environmental and hive conditions suit the production of new breeding bees to lead swarms to establish new hives, the existing queen bee lays eggs in special larger "queen bee" honeycomb cells, and the infertile workers feed the developing larvae with large amounts of royal jelly. The active protein in the jelly stimulates epigenetic changes in the development of the larvae, turning them into new fertile queens.
Bees really are quite weird when you think about them.
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