Bees. What can't these little insects do? We already know they're responsible for much of the food that we eat and flowers that we love to sniff. They make honey to sweeten our tea and beeswax to light our way in the night. So it should come as no surprise that another bee product, royal jelly, is also beneficial to humans in its ability to heal and disinfect wounds. And now researchers have identified the magic ingredient that makes royal jelly so effective.

Royal jelly is the compound secreted by worker honeybees and used to feed all bee larvae — from worker bees to future queens. For years, health fanatics have asserted that royal jelly could heal any number of ailments, from asthma, to pancreatitis, to fractures. But little scientific evidence has been produced to back up these claims until now.

According to a team of researchers from the Slovak Academy of Sciences, royal jelly has wound healing properties "and multiple effects, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities, in various cell types." In the study, which was published in the journal, Scientific Reports, they even identified the ingredient that makes royal jelly such a wound healing powerhouse.

After testing various components of royal jelly, the research team noted that a small protein named defensin-1 is the molecule responsible for giving royal jelly its healing properties. The team tested the molecule in cells and on animals to determine its effectiveness at healing wounds. Researchers found that after 15 days, wounds that were treated with defensin-1 were closed, while similar wounds that were left untreated were still at least partially open.

As always, it's a big jump from petri dish cells and even lab animals to humans, so its impossible to say with certainty that royal jelly would have the same effect in people. But it's promising research that opens the door to continued studies on the use of royal jelly to heal wounds and other skin issues.

And if nothing else, it offers yet another solid reason to save the bees.

Researchers identify the secret ingredient that makes royal jelly so effective at healing wounds
The ability of royal jelly to help heal wounds is yet another great reason to love (and save) the bees.