The difference between bee pollen and royal jelly lies in the definition of what each substance is. Bee pollen is the natural pollen of various flowers that is gathered by bees as they feed on nectar. Pollen gets stuck to the legs and other body parts of the bee. Royal jelly, on the other hand, is a fluid made in the pharyngeal glands of bees and secreted by these glands. It is composed of water, nectar, honey, saliva, vitamins and hormones.
Bee pollen and royal jelly are both found in the hives of bees, but just as they are different in composition, they also are used for different purposes by the bees. Royal jelly is a food that is prepared for the nourishment of larvae for the first few days of their life and is food for the queen for all of her life. Amazing claims have been made about the nutritional value and health claims of both of these substances, many of which are the same for both substances.
It is often reported that bee pollen provides the highest amount of certain nutrients — such as vitamins, minerals, hormones, amino acids, fats and enzymes — compared to other foods or nutritional supplements. Bee pollen and royal jelly are said to be rich in nutritional value and perfect in the proportions of those nutrients. The fact that the queen bee grows to a larger size, is more fertile and lives longer than all of the other bees of the hive also has encouraged the belief that bee products are miraculous cures for numerous health problems. They also are believed to increase a person's physical and mental stamina — a claim that has sparked interest particularly among athletes.
Believers in the nutritional value of bee pollen and royal jelly for use in alternative medicine have claimed that these all-natural substances can eliminate deficiencies in any vitamin or mineral. They believe that these bee products have rejuvenating power and that they slow the aging process, strengthen the immune system, are natural antibiotics and are a general cure-all. Nutritionists, research scientists and skeptics, however, remind the public that the nutrients contained in bee pollen and royal jelly are abundantly found in perfect proportions in organically cultivated foods. Emphasis also is placed on the fact that even the most perfect food for a bee is not necessarily a perfect food for another form of life.
People do not have the same nutritional needs as bees. There also is the concern for possible allergic reactions, which can be very severe in some individuals who take bee products. Individuals who are allergic to pollen in general should consult their doctor before taking bee products.