In a paper published in Nature, Japanese researcher Masaki Kamakura describes a process he used to determine that the protein royalactin, is at least one of the components responsible for turning an ordinary female bee, into a queen. In a simple process of elimination experiment, Kamakura, was able to separate the different substances that comprise royal jelly, which then allowed him to feed those substances individually to a female bee to see which caused her to take on queen bee traits. In the simple but brilliant experiment, the individual components that make up royal jelly were obtained by allowing the jelly to decompose under different temperatures. Since the components decomposed at differing rates, Kamakura was able to separate them at each stage, which then allowed him to whip up a diet comprised of just the individual substance (mixed with other nutrients) that he fed to his test female bees, until he came upon the one that finally did the trick.
To prove his point, Kamakura also fed the royalactin mix to female fruit flies, a rather close cousin on the genetic tree, and discovered it caused queen bee like effects on them as well. They grew larger than normal, became better procreators and lived longer. A thick white milky solution, royal jelly is excreted by female nurse bees, who deposit it for the queen to eat, and that’s all she eats, which is a good thing for her, since it causes her to grow larger, weigh more, and perhaps more importantly, to live far longer than anyone else in the hive. Because of its so-called magical properties, royal jelly has also been used by us humans for thousands of years for a variety of reasons, and while some claim it can help slow the effects of aging on skin, there is no evidence to suggest it can cause people to grow larger, live longer or produce more offspring.