This page is about products other than honey: pollen, propolis, royal jelly, wax.


Pollen is the male part of the flower. It is a dust which generally is yellowish but may be red or purple. Bees, as they (unwillingly) drop pollen on the pistil (female part) of flowers, account for 80 % of pollination.

Pollen is made of 15-18 % of water, 35 % of carbohydrates, 20 % of proteins as well as vitamins, minerals, amino acids which are lacking in honey:


The word "propolis" comes from the Greek: "pro" means "before" and "polis" means "city". The word may have been created by Aristotle (-384 - -322.)

Propolis is a resin-like paste which is gathered by the bees from the buds and the bark from some trees. They bring it back to the hive in their pollen baskets and mix it with wax. They use it in the hive as mastic to reduce the size of an entrance for instance. Its antiseptic properties enable a safe environment as walls are covered with it. It is also used to embalm predators that tried to steal honey. Raw propolis contains 40 % of impurities (wax, vegetal fibers, pollen, dead bees, sand, etc.)

Royal jelly

It is a white to light yellow substance highly acidic secreted by the young nurse bees. In the hive, these nurse bees produce the royal jelly and feed young larvae with it for 2 or 3 days. Queens on the other hand are fed on royal jelly during their whole life. Thus it is only in royal cells (those of queen larvae) that royal jelly is found in quantity large enough to be extracted.

A queen egg is identical to a worker egg; in spite of this, she is twice as long and lives for up to 4 or 5 years (workers generally do not live over a month.) The queen is capable of laying up to three thousands egg per day during the season. It can therefore be said that royal jelly is directly accountable for the longevity and extraordinary capabilities of the queen. Royal jelly contains 60-70 % of water, lipids (18 %, mostly fatty acids), carbohydrates (11 %), proteins (2 %), vitamins, hormones, enzymes, minerals and compounds yet to be identified (3 % of the total.)


It is produced by the workers, the only bees with the right glands under their abdomen. Wax is used as a structure material to make cells. It takes 2 kg of sugar to 1 kg of bees (a dozen thousands insects) to make 50 g of honey. It is therefore not surprising that beekeepers provide premade cells to reduce the energetic expense of the bees and enable them to keep focused on making honey. Wax composition is stable: it weakly depends on the area or the bee species.


March 18th 2003