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.

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