What the Bees Tell Us About Aging

There is a story that tells an important truth about your food, your genes, and how quickly or slowly you age.

It’s a story about the bees.

Did you ever wonder why, in a hive of anywhere from 20,000 to 80,000 bees, only one becomes a queen? Just one. It isn’t like they take a vote or appoint her. She’s built differently. She’s bigger and she’s the only bee in the hive capable of laying fertile eggs.

Every Bee in the hive starts our exactly the same.

And here’s where the story really gets interesting: Every bee in the hive starts out exactly the same, with the identical genetic makeup. So, if they all start out the same, how is it that one develops into a queen?

For the answer to this question, we need to go into the science of genetics.


 Now we know that genes are fluid, dynamic, and constantly changing. Like little dimmers and switches, they turn on and off activities in the body in response to environmental clues experienced in daily life.


For many years we believed that genes were fixed and unchangeable. You got what you got – genetically speaking – and there was virtually nothing you could do about it.

All the latest research in genetics has uncovered surprising evidence indicating that this theory was dead wrong. Our genes are not fixed, but fluid, dynamic, and constantly changing.

Genes act like little switches, turning of and off activities in the body.

Like little dimmers and switches, they turn on and off activities in the body in response to environmental clues experienced in daily life: things like stress (yes, bees get stressed too), heat and cold, toxins, sleep, emotions, the weather, sunlight, a day at the beach…

They even respond to food.

The queen bee is raised on a different diet.

So getting back to the bees. The queen bee is raised on a diet completely different from all the other bees. She is fed an exotic substance called royal jelly while all the others live on a diet of bee bread and honey.

The royal jelly activates the genes responsible for building a big, strong, beautiful queen bee body with enough eggs to populate an entire hive.

The bee bread and honey, on the other hand, doesn’t target these genes at all, leaving our little bees, well, little. And, adding insult to injury, the bee bread and honey includes an ingredient that causes the worker bee’s ovaries to shrink, making it impossible for them to produce eggs and fly off to create a hive of their own.


“Radically different looking animals can be created from identical genetic material; a worker bee and a queen bee differ only in which genes are activated… By manipulating the environment of their offspring, honey bees genetically alter their bodies via nutrition.” Gwen Pearson, Science


The Takeaway

My work takes me deep into the subject of how and why we age. and how to keep the body at its youngest and strongest level regardless of age.

And food plays a leading role here.

The food we eat matters. You probably knew that, but what you may not have known is this: The right food can turn off the genes that generate cancer and disease, and turn on what scientists are now calling our “youth” genes, setting in motion chemical reactions in the body to slow the aging process.

Yes, we can slow aging, and, even better, we can reverse the damage of premature aging and turn back the clock.

Poor food choices – think fast food, fried foods, processed foods, and excessive sugar, do exactly the opposite, turning on the genes that generate inflammation, promote disease, and accelerate aging.


The right food can turn off the genes that generate cancer and disease, and turn on what scientist are now calling our “youth” genes, setting in motion chemical reactions in the body to slow the aging process.


The good stuff looks like real food.

Most of us know intuitively what’s good for us and what’s not. The good stuff looks like real food, something your grandma would recognize and eat. The poor choices generally come in a box or package with a long list of ingredients granny couldn’t pronounce and sure as hell wouldn’t recognize.

And if you’re still not sure what’s good, your body will tell you. Ever experience a unexplained breakout of rashes, hives, eczema, congestion, acid reflux, a sudden bout of sneezing, or achy joints? This is your very intelligent body sending you a message that you need to change it up and concentrate on better choices.

Follow the advice of one of my favorite investigative friends and New York Times best-selling author, Michael Pollan:

“Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants”


To learn more, grab a copy of my e-book: What Should I Eat?  and send me your questions and thoughts. I love hearing from you!


PS – The dramatic loss of bees in recent years is of critical concern. Hundreds of bee species have already become extinct and more are on the way, believed to be largely due to the heavy doses of toxic chemical sprays used in factory farming as well as those routinely used by homeowners to keep their lawns pristine and free of dandelions. Go here, or here to learn more, or subscribe to Sumofus, a grassroots advocacy organization that has campaigned heavily for various causes, including the bees.  Also, stop spraying your lawns! Instead, eat those pesky little dandelions. They’re among the best foods to help detoxify your body! 



Want to connect? Contact me at elaine@elainepauly.com.




  1. Sharon Dwyer April 18, 2017 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    I am reading this from Marche, Italy. Yesterday friends and I went hiking in the Apennine Mountains and gathered dandelions, chicory, tarragon and tiny margarita flowers which we later prepared as our lunch with whole grain pasta, olive oil and garlic. Community-based efforts make this easier and more fun and we can do this right in WNY, where we have an abundance of beautiful green space.

    Sadly, bees are in danger here in Europe as well but the European Commission has strictly limited the use of many pesticides that impact bee health. The U.S. must do the same. Thank you for the link, and for the good information.

    Buona salute!


    • Elaine April 19, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Sharon – I envy your location. I have never been to Italy but you are inspiring me to get there. Hiking and gathering greens and flowers? What could be better than that. Enjoy your time there and thanks so much for your thoughts. The whole issue of the bees is so disturbing. The US needs to follow the lead of its European neighbors and ban more of the chemicals that are released into our environment. I hope we get on board with this soon! Certainly appears that our current administration is not in support of environmental issues. Thanks for your thoughts! Have fun!

  2. Betsy McDonald April 19, 2017 at 1:52 am - Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and, as a chef, I feel a great responsibility for preparing “real” food. It’s delicious as well as healthy and your body’s response is amazing. Another thought which is so easy to remember… color, color, color!!! Bright, colorful plates are healthy plates!!!
    I hope to join one of your fireside chats in the future… you are a living testament to the fact that eating well and being thoughtful about yourself, your body and your environment really pays off!!
    Thanks for the great read!!
    Betsy McDonald (twochefstravels.com)

    • Elaine April 19, 2017 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Betsy! So fabulous to hear from you! You are so right: nothing worse than a boring plate and from what I can see in your Instagram posts, yours are far from that. Anytime you need a sous chef to cruise with you, count me in! Perhaps I’ll have to bring the Fireside Chats to you!

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