Therapeutic nutrition with beehive products

Nutrition is a complex and indispensable process for the preservation of life and the proper functioning of each of the body’s tissues (1). This begins with the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract, its passage from the tissues adjacent to the cell irrigated by the blood capillaries, extracellular matrix and the processes of incorporation and metabolism (2). The alterations in each one of the steps involved in the nutrition process is related to multiple acute and chronic diseases as well as the deterioration of the quality of life (3,4).

Advances in the study of the microbiome, genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and epigenomics have changed the way in which the effect of food is understood and have led to an understanding of the functions that some of them have: they are functional foods. That is, those that are useful in the prevention and management of diseases (5). The products of the hive (bee bread, honey, royal jelly, propolis and pollen) are foods with important properties in terms of the prevention and treatment of different diseases.

Royal jelly

Royal jelly is a substance that bees secrete from glands located in the hypopharyngeal region. Bees use royal jelly as food for larvae and the queen bee. It is a yellow, viscous substance with a bitter taste (6). Royal jelly is made up of water, fatty acids and proteins (7). Among them, the major protein of royal jelly and 17β-estradiol, 17α-ethinyl estradiol, 10-hydroxidecanoic acid and 10-hydroxytrans-2 decanoic acid are of recognized therapeutic interest.

The following are mechanisms and applications of royal jelly:

Its administration can be orally (500 to 1000 mg every day) or topical on the lesions as it happens in the case of benefits on the skin.

Bee honey

Bee honey is a generally sweet-tasting viscous liquid derived from flower nectar or the sweet secretions of some plant stems. The bees introduce the nectar inside and transform it by mixing it with enzymes such as invertase that modifies its composition. To a large extent, this process also seeks to reduce the humidity of the liquid (25). This process occurs through trophalaxis, a mechanism of transfer of nectar from mouth to mouth and in which the drones also participate (26).

The composition of honey is complex although mostly carbohydrates (mainly fructose and glucose) and water are found. It is also possible to identify amino acids, peptides, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenolic agents (27). To a large extent, the usefulness of bee honey owes its therapeutic properties to these polyphenolic components. These compositions vary according to the geographical region where the hive is located and the food source of the hives (28). According to the food source, honey can be classified as monofloral (at least 60% of the nectar derives from a single floral species), multifloral (multiple floral species) or honeydew honey (the nectar derives from sweet secretions left by other insects and that they have extracted from the stems of the trees), a particular type is honeydew that comes from pines (29) (28).

The following are mechanisms and applications of honey from bees:

Bee honey should be consumed at a rate of 15 to 50 grams per day or topically on wounds.


Propolis is a mixture of resins that bees obtain from the different plant sources that are found around the hive, which are subjected to some enzymatic transformations by bees. At low temperatures propolis is of a hard consistency and is used by bees to seal holes in the hive and protect it from the invasion of microorganisms and parasites, it has also been described that it serves to structurally strengthen the hive and mitigate the effect of vibrations on it (43).

The composition is variable according to the geographical region and the vegetation of the area from which it is obtained, however, resins, balms, volatile oils and other organic substances are identified where it is possible to identify polyphenolic and flavonoid compounds (44).

The following are mechanisms and applications of propolis:

It should be indicated at a rate of 5 to 10 ml taken every day or 2 to 4 applications on the affected site in the case of the management of wounds and nail or skin infections.

Bee pollen

Bees are among the group of animals capable of consuming pollen. On their legs they have adaptations in the form of baskets to load the beans to the hive. The time of greatest consumption of pollen is during its larval phase, since nectar is used more as a food source later in its life cycle (52). They are taken by the pollen grains of the plants and taken to the hive where transformations mediated by some enzymes such as amylase and catalase are carried out in order to be used as food (53).

At least 200 different components have been identified in the pollen. Within the pollen components are proteins and amino acids (up to 50% of its composition), carbohydrates (up to 30%), lipids (up to 7%), fiber (up to 20% of the composition) and other compounds such as nucleic acids, vitamins and minerals (54).

The following are mechanisms and applications of bee pollen:

When consumed in ethanolic extract, the consumption of 5 to 10 ml each day and 15 grams daily in the form of granules is required.

Bee bread

It is a mixture of honey, wax and pollen that undergoes a lactic fermentation process inside the hive. It is a product with a high content of proteins and amino acids, carbohydrates and unsaturated fatty acids (59).

The following are mechanisms and applications of bee bread:

This product is indicated at a rate of 5 to 10 ml each day.

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