Thursday, November 24, 2011


It’s Thanksgiving! Why Do You Need To Thank A Beekeeper?
Posted by June Stoyer on November 22nd, 2011


The Pilgrims Weren’t The Only Ones Traveling To The New World!
Thanksgiving is a special celebration in America in which family and friends gather to enjoy a cornucopia of scrumptious foods. While most people typically give thanks for their friends, family, healthy and good fortune, not many really think about the importance of the honeybee in this celebration. Just like the Pilgrims, the honeybees were also natives of Europe.

What Foods Would YOU Miss If Bees Didn’t Exist?

Did you know that honeybees are also responsible for pollinating ¾ of all of our agricultural crops? When you look around the table this Thanksgiving, think about how many foods such as plums, raspberries, almonds, cherries, apples and pumpkins (favorites, especially for traditional pies).
Thanksgiving cornucopia thanks to bees

How many foods would NOT be available if there were no bees?

Then think about how some of the foods which are consumed by turkeys have been pollinated by bees. Without the honeybee, Thanksgiving would not be the feast that it is. Unfortunately, the honeybee population continues to rapidly decline with the increased number of genetically modified crops combined with systemic pesticides. Thankfully, there are many leaders, educators and activists who are working together to raise awareness and help educate the public about the importance of honeybees in our lives.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


this is a query brought to us and the response is made by ERIC MUSSEN of UC DAVIS

I would like to ask you if the statements made in this article about honey and HFCS are true or not:

ANSWER: There is enough woefully inaccurate information in this material, written 12 years ago, to demonstrate a person who needs to be informed of the truth. Beekeepers in the United States do not feed crystallized high fructose corn HFCS) syrup to honey bees with the goal of having the bees manipulate the syrup as they do nectar, then sell the product as honey. Honey bees are not “force fed.” That suggests putting tubes through their mouthparts and injecting syrup. They take HFCS, willingly, from feeders, but only as a syrup, not as crystals.

The next inaccurate statement is that the bees somehow “enzymatically flavor it.” The enzymes introduced into sugar syrups by honey bees reduce sucrose to fructose and glucose and may change some of the sugar to hydrogen peroxide. The flavor of honey comes from the nectar and the flowers from which the nectar is obtained, not from anything introduced by the bees.

Many honeys crystallize, naturally – some, like cotton, canola, and sunflower, very quickly (days), and a few like tupelo and California sage that stay liquid for years. Often the reason a honey granulates quickly is because the glucose to fructose ratio is HIGHER than in the average honeys.

Fructose is metabolized in the livers of mammals and can be converted into fat and triglycerides. There is no indication that such a biochemical transformation occurs in a honey bee. The amount of fructose in HFCS fed to honey bees basically mimics the amount found in table sugar or honey. If sucrose or honey were to be named the same way that HFCS is named, they would be called “Type 50.” That means that 50 percent of the sugar in the syrup is glucose and 50 percent is fructose. Honey breaks down pretty much the same, except the fructose concentration often is a bit higher than the glucose. So, chemically, there is extremely little difference between the HFCSs and honey or table sugar.

Beekeepers tend to purchase and feed Type 42 (42% fructose and 58% glucose) and type 55 (55% fructose and 45% glucose) as well as 50/50 blends of HFCS and sucrose syrup, to their colonies, if the bees need to be stimulated to rear brood or if the bees did not store enough honey to get through the winter. Feeding bees costs a lot of money and beekeepers do not feed any more than they have to.

An analysis of honey and HFCS by HPLC (high pressure liquid chromatography) reveals very similar output data, since the sugars are the same. If the USDA allows “almost 40% fructose by weight” in honey (I guess this is what Carol means), then what do we do about other honeys that are high in fructose? In Dr. Eva Crane’s comprehensive textbook, “HONEY,” the range of fructose in natural honeys is 27.2 to 44.3%. Glucose varies from 22.0 to 40.7%. So, the chemistry of honey and HFCS is extremely similar.

Whether or not HFCS somehow might be related to the ability of the bees to fend off mite infestations has not been studied or determined, to my knowledge.
Remember, too, that this material was posted at a website directed toward vegans. Generally, vegans will not use honey since they feel that we are “using” bees for our purposes to obtain it and that is not an acceptable practice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Drowning Government in Antibiotic Tainted Chinese Honey

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Drowning Government in Antibiotic Tainted Chinese Honey
Posted on November 14, 2011 by emptywheel

Marion Nestle describes that the USDA is cutting back on basic research.

This decision, Neuman reports, “reflects a cold-blooded assessment of the economic usefulness”—translation: lack of political clout in the affected industry—of the 500 or so reports issued by the National Agriculture Statistics Service each year.

I was struck, in particular, by this report on the cutting block.

Annual Bee and Honey Report – Eliminate

Which I believe is this report:

This file contains the annual report of the number of colonies producing honey, yield per colony, honey production, average price, price by color class and value; honey stocks by state and U.S.

Why, at a time when people are struggling to understand colony collapse, would the government eliminate a report on how many colonies are producing honey? This is like eliminating a report on how many canaries die in coal mines just to make sure people don’t become worried about imminent explosions.

There’s another reason they might not want anyone tracking honey: because people are just copping onto the way producers hide the source of honey. (h/t RC)

I’ve been meaning to link to this story since it came out: it shows how producers are ultra filtering honey to hide that it comes from China–which also serves to hide possible illegal antibiotics.

More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.
The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.”

The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.


In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.
Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal antibiotics – on the U.S. market for years.

A honey industry spokesperson suggests you can assume honey that has been ultra filtered is

Removal of all pollen from honey “makes no sense” and is completely contrary to marketing the highest quality product possible, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, told Food Safety News.

“I don’t know of any U.S. producer that would want to do that. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey,” Jensen said.

“In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it’s even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law,” he added.

Richard Adee, whose 80,000 hives in multiple states produce 7 million pounds of honey each year, told Food Safety News that “honey has been valued by millions for centuries for its flavor and nutritional value and that is precisely what is completely removed by the ultra-filtration process.”

Incidentally, there’s a pretty dramatic difference in what kind of honey you get based on where you buy it:

76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.
100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.
77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.
100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.
Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.

Support your local farmer’s market. They still care about birds–canaries in coal mines–and the bees.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey
Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins
by Andrew Schneider | Nov 07, 2011

More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn't exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled "honey."
The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world's food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey - some containing illegal antibiotics - on the U.S. market for years.

Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.

Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation's premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey.

Bryant, who is director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, found that among the containers of honey provided by Food Safety News:

• 76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.

• 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.

• 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.

• 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald's and KFC had the pollen removed.

• Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and "natural" stores like PCC and Trader Joe's had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.

And if you have to buy at major grocery chains, the analysis found that your odds are somewhat better of getting honey that wasn't ultra-filtered if you buy brands labeled as organic. Out of seven samples tested, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen. All of the organic honey was produced in Brazil, according to the labels.

The National Honey Board, a federal research and promotion organization under USDA oversight, says the bulk of foreign honey (at least 60 percent or more) is sold to the food industry for use in baked goods, beverages, sauces and processed foods. Food Safety News did not examine these products for this story.

Some U.S. honey packers didn't want to talk about how they process their merchandise.

One who did was Bob Olney, of Honey Tree Inc., in Michigan, who sells its Winnie the Pooh honey in Walmart stores. Bryant's analysis of the contents of the container made in Winnie's image found that the pollen had been removed.

Olney says that his honey came from suppliers in Montana, North Dakota and Alberta. "It was filtered in processing because North American shoppers want their honey crystal clear," he said.

The packers of Silverbow Honey added: "The grocery stores want processed honey as it lasts longer on the shelves."

However, most beekeepers say traditional filtering used by most will catch bee parts, wax, debris from the hives and other visible contaminants but will leave the pollen in place.

Ernie Groeb, the president and CEO of Groeb Farms Inc., which calls itself "the world's largest packer of honey," says he makes no specific requirement to the pollen content of the 85 million pounds of honey his company buys.

Groeb sells retail under the Miller's brand and says he buys 100 percent pure honey, but does not "specify nor do we require that the pollen be left in or be removed."

He says that there are many different filtering methods used by beekeepers and honey packers.

"We buy basically what's considered raw honey. We trust good suppliers. That's what we rely on," said Groeb, whose headquarters is in Onstead, Mich.

Why Remove the Pollen?

Removal of all pollen from honey "makes no sense" and is completely contrary to marketing the highest quality product possible, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, told Food Safety News.

"I don't know of any U.S. producer that would want to do that. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey," Jensen said.

"In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it's even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law," he added.

Richard Adee, whose 80,000 hives in multiple states produce 7 million pounds of honey each year, told Food Safety News that "honey has been valued by millions for centuries for its flavor and nutritional value and that is precisely what is completely removed by the ultra-filtration process."

"There is only one reason to ultra-filter honey and there's nothing good about it," he says.

"It's no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China," Adee added.

The Sioux Honey Association, who says it's America's largest supplier, declined repeated requests for comments on ultra-filtration, what Sue Bee does with its foreign honey and whether it's ultra-filtered when they buy it. The co-op markets retail under Sue Bee, Clover Maid, Aunt Sue, Natural Pure and many store brands.

Eric Wenger, director of quality services for Golden Heritage Foods, the nation's third largest packer, said his company takes every precaution not to buy laundered Chinese honey.

"We are well aware of the tricks being used by some brokers to sell honey that originated in China and laundering it in a second country by filtering out the pollen and other adulterants," said Wenger, whose firm markets 55 million pounds of honey annually under its Busy Bee brand, store brands, club stores and food service.

"The brokers know that if there's an absence of all pollen in the raw honey we won't buy it, we won't touch it, because without pollen we have no way to verify its origin."

He said his company uses "extreme care" including pollen analysis when purchasing foreign honey, especially from countries like India, Vietnam and others that have or have had "business arrangements" with Chinese honey producers.

Golden Heritage, Wenger said, then carefully removes all pollen from the raw honey when it's processed to extend shelf life, but says, "as we see it, that is not ultra-filtration.

"There is a significant difference between filtration, which is a standard industry practice intended to create a shelf-stable honey, and ultra-filtration, which is a deceptive, illegal, unethical practice."

Some of the foreign and state standards that are being instituted can be read to mean different things, Wenger said "but the confusion can be eliminated and we can all be held to the same appropriate standards for quality if FDA finally establishes the standards we've all wanted for so long."

Groeb says he has urged FDA to take action as he also "totally supports a standard of Identity for honey. It will help everyone have common ground as to what pure honey truly is!"

What's Wrong With Chinese Honey?

Chinese honey has long had a poor reputation in the U.S., where - in 2001 - the Federal Trade Commission imposed stiff import tariffs or taxes to stop the Chinese from flooding the marketplace with dirt-cheap, heavily subsidized honey, which was forcing American beekeepers out of business.

To avoid the dumping tariffs, the Chinese quickly began transshipping honey to several other countries, then laundering it by switching the color of the shipping drums, the documents and labels to indicate a bogus but tariff-free country of origin for the honey.

Most U.S. honey buyers knew about the Chinese actions because of the sudden availability of lower cost honey, and little was said.

The FDA -- either because of lack of interest or resources -- devoted little effort to inspecting imported honey. Nevertheless, the agency had occasionally either been told of, or had stumbled upon, Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the population.

Mostly, the adulteration went undetected. Sometimes FDA caught it.

In one instance 10 years ago, contaminated Chinese honey was shipped to Canada and then on to a warehouse in Houston where it was sold to jelly maker J.M. Smuckers and the national baker Sara Lee.

By the time the FDA said it realized the Chinese honey was tainted, Smuckers had sold 12,040 cases of individually packed honey to Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Sara Lee said it may have been used in a half-million loaves of bread that were on store shelves.

Eventually, some honey packers became worried about what they were pumping into the plastic bears and jars they were selling. They began using in-house or private labs to test for honey diluted with inexpensive high fructose corn syrup or 13 other illegal sweeteners or for the presence of illegal antibiotics. But even the most sophisticated of these tests would not pinpoint the geographic source of the honey.
Food scientists and honey specialists say pollen is the only foolproof fingerprint to a honey's source.

Federal investigators working on criminal indictments and a very few conscientious packers were willing to pay stiff fees to have the pollen in their honey analyzed for country of origin. That complex, multi-step analysis is done by fewer than five commercial laboratories in the world.

But, Customs and Justice Department investigators told Food Safety News that whenever U.S. food safety or criminal experts verify a method to identify potentially illegal honey - such as analyzing the pollen - the laundering operators find a way to thwart it, such as ultra-filtration.

The U.S. imported 208 million pounds of honey over the past 18 months. Almost 60 percent came from Asian countries - traditional laundering points for Chinese honey. This included 45 million pounds from India alone.

And websites still openly offer brokers who will illegally transship honey and scores of other tariff-protected goods from China to the U.S.

FDA's Lack of Action

The Food and Drug Administration weighed into the filtration issue years ago.

"The FDA has sent a letter to industry stating that the FDA does not consider 'ultra-filtered' honey to be honey," agency press officer Tamara Ward told Food Safety News.

She went on to explain: "We have not halted any importation of honey because we have yet to detect 'ultra-filtered' honey. If we do detect 'ultra-filtered' honey we will refuse entry."

Many in the honey industry and some in FDA's import office say they doubt that FDA checks more than 5 percent of all foreign honey shipments.

For three months, the FDA promised Food Safety News to make its "honey expert" available to explain what that statement meant. It never happened. Further, the federal food safety authorities refused offers to examine Bryant's analysis and explain what it plans to do about the selling of honey it says is adulterated because of the removal of pollen, a key ingredient.

Major food safety standard-setting organizations such as the United Nations' Codex Alimentarius, the European Union and the European Food Safety Authority say the intentional removal of pollen is dangerous because it eliminates the ability of consumers and law enforcement to determine the actual origin of the honey.

"The removal of pollen will make the determination of botanical and geographic origin of honey impossible and circumvents the ability to trace and identify the actual source of the honey," says the European Union Directive on Honey.

The Codex commission's Standard for Honey, which sets principles for the international trade in food, has ruled that "No pollen or constituent particular to honey may be removed except where this is unavoidable in the removal of foreign matter. . ." It even suggested what size mesh to use (not smaller than 0.2mm or 200 micron) to filter out unwanted debris -- bits of wax and wood from the frames, and parts of bees -- but retain 95 percent of all the pollen.

Food Safety News asked Bryant to analyze foreign honey packaged in Italy, Hungary, Greece, Tasmania and New Zealand to try to get a feeling for whether the Codex standards for pollen were being heeded overseas. The samples from every country but Greece were loaded with various types and amounts of pollen. Honey from Greece had none.

You'll Never Know

In many cases, consumers would have an easier time deciphering state secrets than pinning down where the honey they're buying in groceries actually came from.

The majority of the honey that Bryant's analysis found to have no pollen was packaged as store brands by outside companies but carried a label unique to the food chain. For example, Giant Eagle has a ValuTime label on some of its honey. In Target it's called Market Pantry, Naturally Preferred and others. Walmart uses Great Value and Safeway just says Safeway. Wegmans also uses its own name.

Who actually bottled these store brands is often a mystery.

A noteworthy exception is Golden Heritage of Hillsboro, Kan. The company either puts its name or decipherable initials on the back of store brands it fills.

"We're never bashful about discussing the products we put out" said Wenger, the company's quality director. "We want people to know who to contact if they have questions."

The big grocery chains were no help in identifying the sources of the honey they package in their store brands.

For example, when Food Safety News was hunting the source of nine samples that came back as ultra-filtered from QFC, Fred Myer and King Sooper, the various customer service numbers all led to representatives of Kroger, which owns them all. The replies were identical: "We can't release that information. It is proprietary."
One of the customer service representatives said the contact address on two of the honeys being questioned was in Sioux City, Iowa, which is where Sioux Bee's corporate office is located.

Jessica Carlson, a public relations person for Target, waved the proprietary banner and also refused to say whether it was Target management or the honey suppliers that wanted the source of the honey kept from the public.

Similar non-answers came from representatives of Safeway, Walmart and Giant Eagle.

The drugstores weren't any more open with the sources of their house brands of honey. A Rite Aid representative said "if it's not marked made in China, than it's made in the United States." She didn't know who made it but said "I'll ask someone."

Rite Aid, Walgreen and CVS have yet to supply the information.

Only two smaller Pacific Northwest grocery chains - Haggen and Metropolitan Market - both selling honey without pollen, weren't bashful about the source of their honey. Haggen said right off that its brand comes from Golden Heritage. Metropolitan Market said its honey - Western Family - is packed by Bee Maid Honey, a co-op of beekeepers from the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

Pollen? Who Cares?

Why should consumers care if their honey has had its pollen removed?

"Raw honey is thought to have many medicinal properties," says Kathy Egan, dietitian at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. "Stomach ailments, anemia and allergies are just a few of the conditions that may be improved by consumption of unprocessed honey."

But beyond pollen's reported enzymes, antioxidants and well documented anti-allergenic benefits, a growing population of natural food advocates just don't want their honey messed with.

There is enormous variety among honeys. They range in color from glass-clear to a dark mahogany and in consistency from watery to chunky to a crystallized solid. It's the plants and flowers where the bees forage for nectar that will determine the significant difference in the taste, aroma and color of what the bees produce. It is the processing that controls the texture.

Food historians say that in the 1950s the typical grocery might have offered three or four different brands of honey. Today, a fair-sized store will offer 40 to 50 different types, flavors and sources of honey out of the estimated 300 different honeys made in the U.S.. And with the attractiveness of natural food and the locavore movement, honey's popularity is burgeoning. Unfortunately, with it comes the potential for fraud.

Concocting a sweet-tasting syrup out of cane, corn or beet sugar, rice syrup or any of more than a dozen sweetening agents is a great deal easier, quicker and far less expensive than dealing with the natural brew of bees.

However, even the most dedicated beekeeper can unknowingly put incorrect information on a honey jar's label.

Bryant has examined nearly 2,000 samples of honey sent in by beekeepers, honey importers, and ag officials checking commercial brands off store shelves. Types include premium honey such as "buckwheat, tupelo, sage, orange blossom, and sourwood" produced in Florida, North Carolina, California, New York and Virginia and "fireweed" from Alaska.

"Almost all were incorrectly labeled based on their pollen and nectar contents," he said.

Out of the 60 plus samples that Bryant tested for Food Safety News, the absolute most flavorful said "blackberry" on the label. When Bryant concluded his examination of the pollen in this sample he found clover and wildflowers clearly outnumbering a smattering of grains of blackberry pollen.

For the most part we are not talking about intentional fraud here. Contrary to their most fervent wishes, beekeepers can't control where their bees actually forage any more than they can keep the tides from changing. They offer their best guess on the predominant foliage within flying distance of the hives.

"I think we need a truth in labeling law in the U.S. as they have in other countries," Bryant added.

FDA Ignores Pleas

No one can say for sure why the FDA has ignored repeated pleas from Congress, beekeepers and the honey industry to develop a U.S. standard for identification for honey.

Nancy Gentry owns the small Cross Creek Honey Company in Interlachen, Fla., and she isn't worried about the quality of the honey she sells.

"I harvest my own honey. We put the frames in an extractor, spin it out, strain it, and it goes into a jar. It's honey the way bees intended," Gentry said.

But the negative stories on the discovery of tainted and bogus honey raised her fears for the public's perception of honey.

food-safety-news-honey-samples-tested.jpgShe spent months of studying what the rest of the world was doing to protect consumers from tainted honey and questioning beekeepers and industry on what was needed here. Gentry became the leading force in crafting language for Florida to develop the nation's first standard for identification for honey.

In July 2009, Florida adopted the standard and placed its Division of Food Safety in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in charge of enforcing it. It's since been followed by California, Wisconsin and North Carolina and is somewhere in the state legislative or regulatory maze in Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York, Texas, Kansas, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and others.

John Ambrose's battle for a national definition goes back 36 years. He said the issue is of great importance to North Carolina because it has more beekeepers than any other state in the country.

He and others tried to convince FDA that a single national standard for honey to help prevent adulterated honey from being sold was needed. The agency promised him it would be on the books within two years.

"But that never happened," said Ambrose, a professor and entomologist at North Carolina State University and apiculturist, or bee expert. North Carolina followed Florida's lead and passed its own identification standards last year.

Ambrose, who was co-chair of the team that drafted the state beekeeper association's honey standards says the language is very simple, "Our standard says that nothing can be added or removed from the honey. So in other words, if somebody removes the pollen, or adds moisture or corn syrup or table sugar, that's adulteration," Ambrose told Food Safety News.

But still, he says he's asked all the time how to ensure that you're buying quality honey. "The fact is, unless you're buying from a beekeeper, you're at risk," was his uncomfortably blunt reply.

Eric Silva, counsel for the American Honey Producers Association said the standard is a simple but essential tool in ensuring the quality and safety of honey consumed by millions of Americans each year.

"Without it, the FDA and their trade enforcement counterparts are severely limited in their ability to combat the flow of illicit and potentially dangerous honey into this country," Silva told Food Safety News.

It's not just beekeepers, consumers and the industry that FDA officials either ignore or slough off with comments that they're too busy.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer is one of more than 20 U.S. senators and members of Congress of both parties who have asked the FDA repeatedly to create a federal "pure honey" standard, similar to what the rest of the world has established.

They get the same answer that Ambrose got in 1975: "Any day now."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

American Bee Association Legislative Committee

ABF ALERT: Migratory Beekeepers Get New H2A Rules

The Labor Department has issued “special procedures” that allow migratory beekeepers to move their H2A workers from state-to-state without having to register them in each state. The new procedures had been requested by the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF).

“This is great news,” said ABF Past President Zac Browning, who had been working for the change for several years. “The old procedure was a real hassle. This gives us much more flexibility in our operations.”

Under the old procedures, migratory beekeepers had to advertise for domestic workers and certify their need for foreign workers in each state where they needed workers. Now, they can make one certification and provide an itinerary showing where the workers will be used.

Browning and other members of the ABF Legislative Committee had maintained constant pressure on the Department to adopt the new procedures, which are similar to those already in place for other employers, such as custom grain harvesters.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Once again I must preface this article with a personal comment:

I have been saying this for the last three years - that there is NO one issue but many - the ROOOOOOT cause for almost all of this is the DEMAND for FOOD throughout the world. And as California produces almost 43%of WORLD/PLANET food the need by farmers (all over the world, in Europe, South America, Canada, Russia etc..) to tweek (ie. tomatoes with shrimp DNA to make harder skins better for transport), pesticide etc. in order to MEET THE DEMAND OF FOOD NEEDED.... population GROWTH forcing out natural habitat replacing it with concrete roads and housing (tearing up fertile farm land) , mono cropping causing poor to non existent diet balance and deserts of green fields.... we are POOR Stewards of PLANET EARTH.

Viruses are 'new normal' for honey bees: study
(AFP) – 1 day ago

WASHINGTON — California scientists said Tuesday they have identified four new viruses in healthy honey bee colonies, a finding that could help solve the mystery of mass bee die-offs in some parts of the world.

The previously unknown viruses turned up during a 10-month study of a commercial beekeeping operation that included more than 70,000 hives and 20 colonies that were transported across the United States to pollinate crops.

The colonies appeared healthy and did not see any of the mass deaths that have eradicated as much as 30 percent of the US population of honey bees since 2006.
Understanding the 27 unique honey bee viruses -- including four new ones and others possibly involved in colony collapse -- and how they circulate in healthy populations could offer scientists a baseline for further study.

"You can't begin to understand colony die-off without understanding what normal is," said senior author Joe DeRisi, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Honey bee colony declines in recent years have reached 10 to 30 percent in Europe, 30 percent in the United States, and up to 85 percent in Middle East, according to a UN report on the issue released earlier this year.

Honey bees are critical to global agriculture. They pollinate more than 100 different crops, representing up to $83 billion in crop value world wide each year and roughly one-third of the human diet.

According to co-author Michelle Flenniken of the study published in the online journal PloS One, the patterns of infection show that more than one factor is likely to blame for colony collapse.

"Clearly, there is more than just exposure involved," said Flenniken.
"We noticed that specific viruses dominated in some seasons, but also found that not all of the colonies tested positively for a virus at the same time, even after long-distance transport in close proximity."

The researchers also found six species of bacteria and six fungi, four types of mites and a parasitic fly called a phorid, which had not previously been seen in honey bees outside California.

Among the four newly discovered viruses was one that "turned out to be the primary element of the honey bee biome, or community of bacteria and viruses," said the study, identifying it as a strain of the Lake Sinai virus.

Hundreds of millions of its viral cells were "found in each bee in otherwise healthy colonies at certain times of the year," said the research.
"Here's a virus that's the single most abundant component of the bee biome and no one knew it was there," said DeRisi said.

World health experts believe some combination of parasites, viral and bacterial infections, pesticides, and poor nutrition resulting from the impact of human activities on the environment have all played a role in the bees' decline.

Monday, May 30, 2011



Wednesday, June 1, 2011
3:00-9:00 PM
Deposit High School Auditorium
171 Second Street
Deposit, NY 13754
Public comments accepted to June 1. For details on the proposed docket go to:


RURAL IMPACT What to Expect from the Gas Industry and How to Address It is a documentary exploring the impacts of natural gas development

PA DAIRY FARMERS & LEASEHOLDERS Tell the truth on the ground of what happens when you sign a lease/Community is waking up, too late. If you are thinking of leasing, you must watch this video

Gas Drilling Turning Quiet Tourist Destination into Industrial Town
READ THIS EMAIL from a woman in PA to get an idea of what would happen in our town
These are the Nitty Gritty details that are ignored at our peril:

Forced Pooling: When Landowners Can’t Say No to Drilling

Agreement between the DEP and Chesapeake to address methane seeping into water wells has left some wondering if deal will help fix their tainted water.

How Gas Drilling Contaminates Your Food
Assembly Hearing on Health Impacts of Hydrofracking

AUDIO: Deposit/Hancock Farmer

Mark Dunau, farmer from Delaware County, policy chair for Northeast Organic Farmers Association, at Albany Earth Day rally May 2.

Home Rule: Preparing for Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale Region

The DRBC hearing on June 1 will profoundly affect the outcome of the last 3 years of work to educate people about the hazards of fracking, and to prevent contamination of our water, air, and food sources in New York. What happens in NY will have repercussions across 34 states.

Please send another letter to the DRBC. by clicking on the link below. Please add ONE or two sentences to the given letter. It will help if you specifically tell the DRBC that you want Oquaga Lake to be protected from the danger of a spill caused by waste water trucks that should be prohibited from Oquaga Lake Road. Please tell them to protect the spring fed mountain lakes, such as Oquaga that are part of the "Special Protected Waters" of the Delaware Rive Basin from contamination caused by hydraulic fracking.

Then send this on to as many people as you can.

Please tell the DRBC that this water withdrawal must not be allowed until all the science is in:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

* Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent *, Monday 4 April 2011 17.21 BST * Article history

Honeybees 'entomb' hives to protect against pesticides, say scientists

By sealing up cells full of contaminated pollen, bees appear to be attempting to protect the rest of the hive -

Honey and bee : Entombed Pollen
'Entombed' pollen is identified as having sunken, wax-covered cells amid 'normal', uncapped cells. Photograph: Journal of Invertebrate Pathology

Honeybees are taking emergency measures to protect their hives from pesticides, in an extraordinary example of the natural world adapting swiftly to our depredations, according to a prominent bee expert.

Scientists have found numerous examples of a new phenomenon – bees "entombing" or sealing up hive cells full of pollen to put them out of use, and protect the rest of the hive from their contents. The pollen stored in the sealed-up cells has been found to contain dramatically higher levels of pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals than the pollen stored in neighbouring cells, which is used to feed growing young bees.

"This is a novel finding, and very striking. The implication is that the bees are sensing [pesticides] and actually sealing it off. They are recognising that something is wrong with the pollen and encapsulating it," said Jeff Pettis, an entomologist with the US Department of Agriculture. "Bees would not normally seal off pollen."

But the bees' last-ditch efforts to save themselves appear to be unsuccessful – the entombing behaviour is found in many hives that subsequently die off, according to Pettis. "The presence of entombing is the biggest single predictor of colony loss. It's a defence mechanism that has failed." These colonies were likely to already be in trouble, and their death could be attributed to a mix of factors in addition to pesticides, he added.

Bees are also sealing off pollen that contains substances used by beekeepers to control pests such as the varroa mite, another factor in the widespread decline of bee populations. These substances may also be harmful to bees, Pettis said. "Beekeepers - and I am one – need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what we are doing," he said. "Certainly [the products] have effects on bees. It's a balancing act – if you do not control the parasite, bees die. If you control the parasite, bees will live but there are side-effects. This has to be managed."

The decline of bee populations has become an increasing concern in recent years. "Colony collapse disorder", the name given to the unexplained death of bee colonies, is affecting hives around the world. Scientists say there are likely to be numerous reasons for the die-off, ranging from agricultural pesticides to bee pests and diseases, pollution, and intensive farming, which reduces bee habitat and replaces multiple food sources with single, less nutritious, sources. Globalisation may also be a factor, as it spreads bee diseases around the world, and some measures taken to halt the deaths – such as massing bees in huge super-hives – can actually contribute to the problem, according to a recent study by the United Nations.

The loss of pollinators could have severe effects on agriculture, scientists have warned.

Pesticides were not likely to be the biggest single cause of bee deaths, Pettis said: "Pesticide is an issue but it is not the driving issue." Some pesticides could be improving life for bees, he noted: for many years, bees were not to be found near cotton plantations because of the many chemicals used, but in the past five years bees have begun to return because the multiple pesticides of old have been replaced with newer so-called systemic pesticides.

Studies he conducted found that bees in areas of intensive agriculture were suffering from poor nutrition compared with bees with a diverse diet, and this then compounded other problems, such as infection with the gut parasite nosema. "It is about the interaction of different factors, and we need to study these interactions more closely," he said.

The entombing phenomenon was first noted in an obscure scientific paper from 2009, but since then scientists have been finding the behaviour more frequently, with the same results.

Bees naturally collect from plants a substance known as propolis, a sort of sticky resin with natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities. It is used by bees to line the walls of their hives, and to seal off unwanted or dangerous substances – for instance, mice that find their way into hives and die are often found covered in propolis. This is the substance bees are using to entomb the cells.

The bees that entomb cells of pollen are the hives' housekeepers, different from the bees that go out to collect pollen from plants. Pettis said that it seemed pollen-collecting bees could not detect high levels of pesticides, but that the pollen underwent subtle changes when stored. These changes – a lack of microbial activity compared with pollen that has fewer pesticide residues – seemed to be involved in triggering the entombing effect, he explained.

Pettis was speaking in London, where he was visiting British MPs to talk about the decline of bee populations, and meeting European bee scientists.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Honey Laundering and Authenticity

Jan 19, 2011
By Bradley Kreit in: The Future Now Blog
| Research Manager, Health Horizons Program
Bradley Kreit was born in San Francisco and grew up in Oakland, California. Taken by an urge to explore other parts of the country, he moved to Connecticut for college and moved and traveled ...
food futures, transparency

Honey Laundering and Authenticity

It's hard to find just one or two things to excerpt from Jessica Leeder's great investigation into the large amount of global crime that has grown up around something as simple as honey. It turns out that, in response to U.S. and E.U. trade rules designed to keep antibiotics out of the honey supply, a variety of middlemen have turned up in parts of Asia to conceal the origins of honey--a practice that has been met with equal amount of money spent on tracking down the honey launderers.

Most honey comes from China, where beekeepers are notorious for keeping their bees healthy with antibiotics banned in North America because they seep into honey and contaminate it; packers there learn to mask the acrid notes of poor quality product by mixing in sugar or corn-based syrups to fake good taste.
None of this is on the label. Rarely will a jar of honey say “Made in China.” Instead, Chinese honey sold in North America is more likely to be stamped as Indonesian, Malaysian or Taiwanese, due to a growing multimillion dollar laundering system designed to keep the endless supply of cheap and often contaminated Chinese honey moving into the U.S., where tariffs have been implemented to staunch the flow and protect its own struggling industry.

Much later in her article, Leeder notes that since the honey laundering started in earnest about a decade ago, several countries that produce very little amounts of honey enjoy very large honey exports.

Despite the arrests, the honey industry has been watching suspect import numbers climb.
They are particularly incensed by three countries that, ten years ago, exported zero honey to the U.S., according to Department of Commerce data. India, Malaysia and Indonesia are mysteriously on pace to ship 43 million kilograms of honey into the U.S. by year’s end.
“It is widely known those countries have no productive capacity to justify those quantities,” said Mr. Phipps, the honey markets expert.

The rest of the article, which is well worth reading in full, points out different methods for concealing honey's origins, strategies for combating the fraud, and a sort of legal back and forth that seems out of place for what feels like a pretty ordinary food item.
In reading this, though, I was reminded of signals suggesting that honey may not be the only food subject to similar sorts of fraud attempts. For example, in late 2009, a group of students decided to use DNA analysis to try to verify the origins of their foods--and found that 11 of the 66 foods they tested were mislabeled. Not surprisingly, the mislabeled stuff was expensive--sheep's milk was actually regular old milk, sturgeon caviar was really Mississippi Paddlefish.
And DNA testing--the cost of which keeps dropping--isn't the only tool at a consumer's disposal for testing food origins and chemicals. A group of Canadian chemists have developed a little strip--sort of like a piece of paper for testing p.h. levels--to see if a food item contains pesticides, for example.
As of now, most of these stories about food fraud have received relatively little public attention. But it's interesting to imagine what would happen if stories about honey laundering and the like started gaining traction--and what sorts of reactions it could spur. Certainly, we'd see consumers examining their Florida orange juice, California cheese and so on a lot more closely. And, of course, we'd also see food companies responding by engaging in a lot of desperate marketing to demonstrate the authenticity of their foods. And many more middle men trying to conceal their supply chains.
At some level, I think that scenario is only a matter of when, given that, over time, we really won't need large governments to invest millions of dollars to track down the origins of our foods. With pesticide test strips, cheap DNA sequencing and the like, the scenario above--of increasing fears of food fraud--may only be a matter of when.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

IN defense of the AGRICULTURIST

As a beekeeper the CCD colony collapse issue is rampant - in large part due to insecticides etc. but BUT the REAL issue at large is FOOD DEMAND to MEET the hungry mouths of the WORLD> What really needs to be addressed is HUMAN POPULATION - the GROWTH and Taxation on the planet/world itself. TOOOOOO MANY MOUTHS TO FEED - the demand for food increases daily - farmers have got to resort to tweeking the DNA in plants so that food products will grow faster, longer, more bountiful and the tweeking includes pesticides etc.. genetically engineered etc...

THE GLOBAL ISSUE IS POPULATION GROWTH. The LACK of POPULATION boundries - the earth, planet, globe can only handle so many people - there is ONLY so much food to feed the mouths and bellies - it is the POPULATION EXPLOSION worldwide that is killing everything. POPULATION mean MOUTHS means HUNGRY BELIES means FOOD DEMANDS = we are doing ourselves into extinction.

POPULATION CONTROL is what NEEDS to be ADDRESSED, TALKED ABOUT and ACTION TAKEN> soon there will be no fishes, animals, agricultural products, water, space......


Bees are dying off worldwide and our entire food chain is in peril. Scientists blame toxic pesticides and four European governments have already banned them. If we get the US and the EU to join the ban, other governments across the world could follow, and save bees from extinction.

Silently, billions of bees are dying off and our entire food chain is in danger. Bees don't just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.

Multiple scientific studies fault one group of toxic pesticides for their rapid demise, and bee populations have soared in four European countries that have banned these products. But powerful chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep selling this poison. Our best chance to save bees now is to push the US and EU to ban this deadly product -- their action is critical and will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.

We have no time to lose -- the debate is raging about what to do. This is not just about saving bumble bees, this is about survival. Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for the EU and US to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now and send it onto to everyone and we’ll deliver it to key decision makers.

Bees are vital to life on earth -- every year pollinating plants and crops with an estimated $40bn value, over one third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees we could end up with no fruit, no vegetables, no nuts, no oils and no cotton.

Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations -- some bee species are now extinct and others are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But leading independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. This has led to beekeepers and scientists in France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, already pushing successfully for bans of one of these bee killers. Meanwhile, Bayer continues to export its poison across the world.

This issue is now coming to the boil as major new studies have confirmed the scale of this problem. If we can get European and US decision-makers to take action, others will follow. It won’t be easy. A leaked document shows that the US Environmental Protection Agency knew about the pesticide’s dangers, but ignored them. The document says Bayer’s "highly toxic" product is a "major risk concern to non target insects (honey bees)".

We need to make our voices heard to counter Bayer’s very strong influence on policy makers and scientists in both the US and the EU where they fund the studies and sit on policy bodies. The real experts -- the beekeepers and farmers -- want these deadly pesticides prohibited until and unless we have solid, independent studies that show they are safe. Let's support them now. Sign the petition below, then forward this email:

We can no longer leave our delicate food chain in the hands of research run by the chemical companies and the regulators that are in their pockets. Banning this pesticide will move us closer to a world safe for ourselves and the other species we care about and depend on.

With hope,

Alex, Alice, Iain, David and all at Avaaz


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$15 Billion Bee Murder Mystery Deepens

“Nicotine Bees" Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban

EPA memo reveals concern that pesticide causes bee deaths

Beekeepers want government to pull pesticide

British Beekeepers' Association to stop endorsing bee-killing pesticides

Pesticide industry involvement in EU risk assessment puts survival of bees at stake