“When California was wild, it was one sweet bee garden throughout its entire length,
north and south, and all the way across from the snowy Sierra to the ocean.”
~John Muir, “The Bee Pastures”
Welcome to the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, founded in 1873, to foster the interest of bee culture and beekeeping within Los Angeles County. Our primary purpose is the care and welfare of the honeybee. Our group membership is composed of commercial and small scale beekeepers, bee hobbyists, and bee enthusiasts. So whether you came upon our site by design or just 'happened' to find us - we're glad you're here! Our club and this website are dedicated to educating our members and the general public. We support honeybee research, and adhering to best management practices for the keeping of bees.
The Latest Buzz:
CATCH THE BUZZ June 12, 2019
Employees on the production line at Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, California — the local garlic industry is reaping the benefits of US trade tariffs against China because it makes local produce more competitive in the United States (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)
As most US farmers feel the brunt of the trade war with China, some, like garlic and honey producers who have struggled for years, are applauding new, higher tariffs on Chinese goods.
“It’s been a pretty exciting time for us in Gilroy, California,” Ken Christopher, whose family runs Christopher Ranch, the nation’s largest garlic grower, told AFP.
Though nearly all garlic consumed in America was grown in the US prior to 1993, that changed almost overnight when Chinese exporters began flooding the US market with their product, all but wiping out garlic growers across the country, Christopher said.
“Back in the 1990s, there used to be 12 commercial garlic farms in America and now there’s only three,” he said. “And that’s due to the illegal dumping of Chinese garlic.
“Since 1993 they have illegally flooded the US market with cheap garlic below the cost of their production.”
Under sweeping trade duties imposed by the Trump administration — part of an aggressive strategy to force Beijing to end what the US considers to be unfair practices — tariffs on Chinese garlic increased from 10 to 25 percent on May 10.
Christopher, whose company grows about 100 million pounds of garlic annually that represent 30 percent of total US consumption, said that has led to prices more in line with US growers who have higher labor costs and have struggled over the years to stay afloat.
A box of about 30 pounds of Chinese garlic that sold for some $25 before the latest tariffs increase is now selling for about $45.
That’s as opposed to $50 to $60 for a box of US-grown garlic.
– Relief for Industry –
“This has brought immediate relief for our industry,” said Christopher, whose family-run business is the largest employer in Gilroy, located south of San Francisco, with about 1,100 people working there full-time.
“For the last 25 years, it’s been a game of whack a mole,” he added, describing the difficulty in going after Chinese exporters dumping their produce on the US market for a fraction of the price of US-grown garlic.
“By the time the US Department of Commerce identified the Chinese exporter violating the US law, that company would fold and pop up as a brand new company.
“And often times many of the companies in China were subsidized by the Chinese government.”
Honey producers across the United States who have helplessly watched over the years as China blew them out of the market are also thrilled about the tariffs increase.
“It’s been probably 30 years that China’s been trying to destroy our domestic beekeepers by selling large amounts of honey at prices way below what we can produce at,” said Kelvin Adee, head of the American Honey Producers Association.
“It costs the US producer around $1.75 to $1.85 to produce a pound of honey,” said Adee, whose company Adee Honey Farms is the largest commercial beekeeping operation in the US with some 100,000 beehives.
“They’re bringing it in here under a dollar and there’s no way we can compete with that.”
Adee said that while the US is heavily dependent on imported honey — it consumes around 600 million pounds of the product a year and only produces between 150 to 170 million pounds — tariffs are needed to ensure fair trade practices.
Trump has imposed 25 percent tariffs on a total of $200 billion in Chinese goods, and has threatened even more — while Beijing has hit back with tariffs of its own, largely targeting soybeans and pork.
But despite hopes the tariffs will even the playing field, farmers like Adee and Christopher are well aware that Chinese producers can still beat the system by using evasion schemes.
And they realize that other farmers across the country, like soybean and hog farmers, are paying a steep price because of the spiralling trade dispute.
“We know that a lot of farmers in the middle of the country are hurting and our hearts go out to them,” said Christopher.
“And we know that a 25 percent tariff isn’t a long-term solution,” he added. “We know that at the end of the day there will have to be some kind of negotiation between China and the US.
“But it’s our hope that there will be enhanced enforcement on both sides to make sure that their illegal dumping stops.”
AgAlert By Christine Souza May 15, 2019
It's a "mixed box" when it comes to beekeeper expectations regarding this season's honey crop. Some beekeepers report that winter weather brought plenty of forage for honeybees to feast on this year, and others say uneven citrus bloom in some areas may affect honey production.
Although no formal statewide honey production figures are expected to be released for a few months, individual beekeepers report that the amount of honey they will extract from bee colonies could be up this year.
"We're expecting that the honey crop should be significantly better than the last five to seven years at least because of all of the rain," said Imperial County apiarist Brent Ashurst of Westmoreland, president of the California State Beekeepers Association. "For everyone, the weather has been beneficial because of all of the additional food sources for the bees, and it really makes our job easier because the bees can do what they are supposed to do."
Beekeepers point out that in recent years, factors such as the ongoing drought and lack of forage, Varroa mites and exposure to crop-protection materials, have taken a toll on the bees, resulting in bee losses for many beekeepers. But the moisture and precipitation this season has led to diverse forage for honeybees, including an abundant mix of plants and wildflowers that bees depend on for quality nutrition.
Ashurst said he does not rely on honey as an income "because it's feast or famine; there are some years we make a decent amount of honey, and some years we don't."
"Where we are located (in Southern California), a good year is 12 pounds of honey per colony. Whereas at a honey-producing area like Montana, they might be getting 120 pounds per colony, so 12 pounds is pretty insignificant," Ashurst said.
This season, due to the favorable weather, Ashurst has honeybees placed in sage locations in Temecula and Escondido.
"What we're hoping to get is a sage (honey) crop because finally we got some rain. We don't know what that crop is going to look like until we take it off in June," said Ashurst, who added that many beekeepers can sell honey for the wholesale price of $2 a pound, or filter and bottle the honey for farmers market sales and make about $10 a pound.
Stanislaus County beekeeper Orin Johnson of Hughson said "honey production in California has over the years decreased, but this year, we're looking for a little bump up in honey production for the state."
For the past few days, Johnson has extracted sage honey, calling the variety "one of the premium honeys in the world."
"The bees are still in the sage and will probably make another box by the time they come out by June," Johnson said. "We only make a good sage crop in extremely wet years. This year we had a lot of moisture. It wasn't as much as 2017, but it came at the right time and the plants are producing."
With his honeybees placed in sage locations near Hollister and Pinnacles, Johnson recalls beekeepers had large sage honey crops in 2017 and 2010. Johnson sells honey direct to local customers from his warehouse.
"A lot of my customers, other than the family that wants a jar or two, are those interested in selling honey at farmers markets, so they will come with their 5-gallon buckets and purchase direct from me," Johnson said. "l might have one person come and get a quart jar and another person come get about 30 gallons."
Many beekeepers have recently moved bees out of the state's citrus groves near Tulare County and are busy pollinating other crops.
Tulare County beekeeper and citrus grower Roger Everett of Terra Bella Honey Co. said, "We just got done pulling hives from the citrus groves and now we're trying to get to the next pollination job."
Transporting honeybee colonies to pollinate watermelons in Kern County, Everett said he likely won't open a hive to extract citrus honey until late May or early June.
"I don't know if the hives are all heavy or sort of heavy. I just know there's a stack of pallets with hives that just came out of the citrus that need to be ran through a machine and we'll see what we get," Everett said.
The citrus bloom was hit and miss, Everett said, adding, "Bloom was really weird on the citrus; some fields had heavy bloom and some hardly bloomed at all. That's how much variation there's been, at least in Tulare County."
Related to the orange honey crop, Everett said, "I think it's going to be a little off again compared to previous years or the expectation over the past few years with the rain we've been getting."
Honey production has been declining in California in recent years, Johnson said, although he said the state is among the top 10 honey-producing states.
"At one time, California was the second- or third-leading honey-producing state in the nation. Production is now about 40-pounds per hive, where before it was closer to 60 pounds a hive," said Johnson, who noted that changing diversity among irrigated crops has affected honey production.
Beekeepers say that for much of their income, they rely on revenue from pollination, such as from pollinating almonds and other crops.
"Definitely, we've got to have the almond pollination income," Johnson said.
A report on U.S. honey released in February, by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, found that American appetite for honey is growing. In 2017, Americans consumed 596 million pounds of honey or about 1.82 pounds of honey per person, a 65% increase in consumption since 2009. In addition, the report noted that the U.S. honey sector in 2017 was responsible for more than 22,000 jobs and had total economic output of $4.75 billion.
The state apiary sector will know more about this season's honey crop in a few months, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service is expected to release its annual honey report for 2018 this week. The report includes information about honey producing colonies, honey-production and price by color class.
(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.
Catch the Buzz Honey Integrity Task Force April 25, 2019
Phoenix, March 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — An independent test of top selling honey products sold in U.S. grocery stores found zero instances of adulteration. In all, the 30 top selling products were tested, all of which represented the top items in the honey category as determined by Nielsen’s recent 2018 honey category research. These brands account for approximately 40 percent of the honey sold in the U.S. retail market. The study was commissioned by the Honey Integrity Task Force, an organization made up of representatives from the entire honey industry including importers, packers, producers, marketing cooperative members and an organization that specializes in honey supply chain management.
An independent third party company, RQA Inc., was hired to conduct the study. They pulled two sets of each of the 30 samples from retail shelves across the country. The honey sample brand names were masked, and the samples were sent to two independent German laboratories that specialize in honey testing, QSI and Intertek.
Each lab conducted two adulteration tests, the AOAC-approved 998.12, 13C-Isotope Mass Spectrometry and 13C-IRMS (EA IRMS)/ +LC-IRMS method for C4/C3 adulteration. Both tests are well recognized methods designed to determine if any sugar was added to the honey.
Of the 28 products that were labeled at retail locations as pure honey, the tests from both labs confirmed the samples were not adulterated. Two of the 30 products were actually labeled as honey blends, not pure honey. Both labs correctly identified them as “adulterated.” One was an imitation honey made with maltitol syrup and the other was a combination product with both corn syrup and honey.
“Consumers have every right to expect they’re getting pure honey when they purchase something labeled as such,” said Christi Heintz, Director for the Honey Integrity Task Force. “While the results of this study are very encouraging, we certainly aren’t declaring victory. We view it as validation that our efforts are working, and we hope it gives consumers more confidence in a system that’s been created to protect them. However, our work is never complete and we will continue to work hard and find newer and better ways to ensure the purity of our products.”
The Honey Integrity Task Force plans to conduct more independent testing of honey products in 2019.
Honey is one of nature’s original products, and it is made by bees with no additives or preservatives of any kind. It is one of many food products that can be vulnerable to what is known as economically motivated adulteration, a term used when unscrupulous players within the honey supply chain use cheaper ingredients to lower their production costs and then sell the product as pure honey. The honey industry has put safeguards in place over the years to minimize the chances that a product labeled as honey will be adulterated with sugar or syrup.
CATCH THE BUZZ September 11, 2018
Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on an updated approach for including added sugar information on the Nutrition Facts labels of pure maple syrup and honey.
Advancing better nutrition is one of my top priorities and implementing the update to the iconic Nutrition Facts label — the first overhaul in 20 years — is a key part of that commitment.
We’re already seeing the new label on many products. This updated label is empowering consumers with accurate and science-based information to help them make more informed, healthier choices. As part of our updates to the Nutrition Facts label, we’ve leveraged the latest information we have on nutritional science with the intent to help reduce the burden of chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Toward these goals, the final rule to update the Nutrition Facts label includes a listing of “added sugars.” The old label simply listed the total grams of sugar without distinguishing between sugars that are naturally occurring, such as in fruits and vegetables, and sugars that align with the definition of added sugars established by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines for what constitutes added sugars, which inform the development of federal nutrition policies, define added sugars as caloric sweeteners that include, not only sugar, but also honey and maple syrup as well as other sweeteners.
While added sugars can be part of a healthy dietary pattern, the science underlying the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans demonstrates that meeting nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits is difficult when added sugars contribute more than 10 percent of a person’s total daily calories. There’s strong and consistent evidence that healthy dietary patterns characterized, in part, by lower intakes of sweetened foods and beverages, are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
We’ve made it our goal to increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in food products consistent with recent dietary guideline recommendations. The updated Nutrition Facts Label is an important part of this effort. The new label also contains the new daily value for added sugars, so consumers can better understand how foods with added sugars can fit into a healthy dietary pattern.
While added sugars declared on the updated Nutrition Facts label include sweeteners added to processed foods, they also include foods that are “packaged as such” including a bag of table sugar, jar of honey or container of maple syrup. We recognized that this new labeling information on “packaged as such” products may inadvertently lead consumers to think their pure products, such as a jar of honey or maple syrup, may actually contain added table sugar or corn syrup because there are “added sugars” listed on the label.
That’s why in February 2018, we issued a draft guidance for industry open for public comment that would help clarify the added sugars declaration on the label of pure, single-ingredient “packaged as such” products like maple syrup and honey. This draft guidance was the FDA’s initial thinking about ways we can work to help ensure that the updated Nutrition Facts label is helpful to consumers. The guidance advised food manufacturers about our intent to allow the use of an obelisk symbol, “†,” immediately after the added sugars percent daily value information on containers of pure maple syrup or pure honey. This would direct consumers to language that provides information about what “added sugars” actually mean for these specific products.
As with any draft guidance, we carefully consider comments submitted to the public docket and feedback from stakeholder meetings and interactions to inform us in issuing our final guidance. In this case, the more than 3,000 comments we received on the draft guidance indicate that there are further opportunities to update our proposed approach. We’re grateful for this feedback. It has helped us identify a solution that we think will more adequately address concerns and provide needed clarity to consumers.
We’re currently drafting our final guidance, which we anticipate issuing by early next year, well in advance of the January 2020 compliance date for larger firms for the updated Nutrition Facts label. This guidance will provide a path forward for pure, single-ingredient “packaged as such” products that does not involve the standard “added sugars” declaration on the Nutrition Facts label. We are not considering changes to the required percent daily value for these products, including for products like pure honey and maple syrup. We believe that such a solution strikes the balance of addressing producer concerns that their products could be perceived as being economically adulterated while still informing consumers on how these products contribute to their daily added sugar intake.
Although we’re continuing to work on a revised approach, I believe that an updated approach will both clarify requirements to successfully implement the Nutrition Facts label and achieve the goal of empowering consumers to use the new label to make informed and healthy dietary choices. Through engaged dialogue and open public comment on our nutritional strategies, I’m committed to finding ways to advance our work in nutrition to improve the lives of all Americans by reducing the burden of preventable illness.
June 13, 2018
Ingestion of button batteries, which are frequently found in the household setting, can rapidly lead to caustic esophageal injury in infants and children. A new study published in The Laryngoscope found that drinking honey or Carafate® (a cherry- flavored duodenal ulcer prescription) may help reduce esophageal damage.
In experiments conducted on cadavers and live animals, both honey and Carafate® provided a physical barrier and neutralized the tissue pH increase associated with battery ingestion; they both reduced injury severity compared with other common household liquids, including apple juice, orange juice, sodas, sports drinks, and maple syrup.
"An esophageal button battery can quickly cause significant injury. We have identified protective interventions for both the household and hospital setting that can reduce injury severity," said co-principal investigator Dr. Kris Jatana, Associate Professor and Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology Quality Improvement at Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, OH. "Our results will change the practice guidelines for how medical professionals acutely manage button battery ingestion."
“pH‐neutralizing esophageal irrigations as a novel mitigation strategy for button battery injury.” Rachel R. Anfang, Kris R. Jatana, Rebecca L. Linn, Keith Rhoades, Jared Fry and Ian N. Jacobs. The Laryngoscope; Published Online: June 11, 2018. (DOI: 10.1002/lary.27312). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/lary.27312
Project Apis m. May 17, 2018
Industry can promote its economic contributions – but only if beekeepers, importers, packers and processors participate in study.
FREDERICK, Colo. (May 16, 2018) – From beekeepers and honey importers to packers and processors, the honey industry plays a unique and vital role in the U.S. economy. To illustrate the industry’s true impact, the University of California is asking business owners to complete a short survey. The questionnaire will measure the economic impact of all aspects of the honey industry by calculating the number of jobs the industry creates and its total economic activity.
The questionnaire’s data will be used to create a final report that showcases the role of the honey industry in the broader U.S. economy as well as its impact on regional economies throughout the country.
To accurately assess this large and varied industry, the University of California is looking to the businesses that make up the honey industry to take part in the questionnaire. The information will be entirely confidential, with the survey conducted online through a secure form without personally-identifiable information. Participants have until Friday, June 15, 2018 to complete the survey.
“The University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis is committed to helping agricultural organizations better understand their economic impact,” said Project Scientist Dr. Bill Matthews. “We’re looking forward to quantifying the honey industry’s important role within the U.S. economy.”
To participate in the U.S. Honey Industry Impact Questionnaire, please visit the US Honey Economic Impact Survey before June 15, 2018.
“The honey industry makes significant contributions to the US economy,” said Margaret Lombard, CEO of the National Honey Board. “Finally being able to quantify our impact the way other industries have will allow us to generate goodwill for our industry’s many contributions.”
To learn more about the University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, please visit https://aic.ucdavis.edu. For more information on the National Honey Board, please visit www.honey.com.
About National Honey Board
The National Honey Board (NHB) is an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that works to educate consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products through research, marketing and promotional programs. The Board’s work, funded by an assessment on domestic and imported honey, is designed to increase the awareness and usage of honey by consumers, the foodservice industry and food manufacturers. The ten-member-Board, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, represents producers (beekeepers), packers, importers and a marketing cooperative. For more information, visit www.honey.com.
About University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis
The University of California Agricultural Issues Center (AIC) was established in 1985 to research and analyze crucial trends and policy issues affecting agriculture and interlinked natural and human resources in California and the West. The Center, which consists of a director, several associate directors, a small professional staff and an Advisory Board, provides independent and objective research-based information on a range of critical, emerging agricultural issues such as food and agricultural commodity markets, the value of agricultural research and development, farm costs and returns, consequences of food and agricultural policy and rural resources and the environment. The audience for AIC research and outreach includes decision makers in industry, non-governmental organizations and governments as well as scholars, journalists, students and the general public.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Jessica Schindler: Media@nhb.org, (303) 776-2337
This Proposed Rule document was issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
For related information, Open Docket Folder
Notification of availability; extension of comment period.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is extending the comment period for the notification of availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “The Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products: Guidance for Industry” that appeared in the Federal Register of March 2, 2018. The draft guidance, when finalized, will advise food manufacturers of our intent to exercise enforcement discretion related to the use in the Nutrition Facts label of a symbol “†” immediately after the added sugars percent Daily Value information on certain foods. The symbol would lead the reader to truthful and non-misleading statements outside the Nutrition Facts label to provide additional information regarding the added sugars present in particular foods. We are taking this action in response to requests for an extension to allow interested persons additional time to submit comments.
We are extending the comment period on the document that published in the Federal Register of March 2, 2018 (83 FR 8953). Submit either electronic or written comments by June 15, 2018.
You may submit comments as follows:
Submit electronic comments in the following way:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.
If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).
Submit written/paper submissions as follows:
Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.
For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”
Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2018-D-0075 for “The Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products: Guidance for Industry.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.
Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper comments received, go to https://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Dockets Management Staff, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.
For Further Information Contact
Blakely Fitzpatrick, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Dr., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-1450.
In the Federal Register of March 2, 2018 (83 FR 8953), we published a document announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “The Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products: Guidance for Industry.” The draft guidance is intended to advise food manufacturers of our intent to exercise enforcement discretion related to the use in the Nutrition Facts label of a symbol “†” immediately after the added sugars percent Daily Value information on certain foods. The symbol would lead the reader to truthful and non-misleading statements outside the Nutrition Facts label to provide additional information regarding the added sugars present in particular foods. The draft guidance explains that we intend to consider exercising enforcement discretion for the use of this symbol on single ingredient packages and/or containers of pure honey or pure maple syrup, and certain dried cranberry and cranberry juice products that are sweetened with added sugars, and that contain total sugars at levels no greater than comparable products with endogenous (inherent) sugars, but no added sugars. We provided a 60-day comment period that was scheduled to close on May 1, 2018.
We have received requests to extend the comment period for the draft guidance (Refs. 1 and 2). The requests conveyed concern that the current 60-day comment period does not allow sufficient time to develop meaningful or thoughtful comments to the draft guidance.
We have considered the requests and are extending the comment period for the draft guidance for 45 additional days, until June 15, 2018. We believe that this extension allows adequate time for interested persons to submit comments without significantly delaying finalizing the guidance.
The following references are on display at the Dockets Management Staff (see ADDRESSES) and are available for viewing by interested persons between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; they are also available electronically at https://www.regulations.gov.
1. Letter from Margaret Lombard, Chief Executive Officer, National Honey Board, to FDA Dockets Management Staff (April 3, 2018).
2. Letter from Ray Bonenberg, President, International Maple Syrup Institute, to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, FDA (April 4, 2018).
Dated: April 19, 2018.
Associate Commissioner for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2018-08603 Filed 4-24-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
(NOTE: Thanks to Anthony Thiessen for the link and quote: "The FDA is considering whether honey labels should say "added sugar." Even though our product is inherently sweet, there is nothing added, so I feel that label would be a misrepresentation. The public comment period ends on June 15th, Please please please share this link around to anyone keepers or clubs you know! https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2018-D-0075-0083.")
University of Maryland: the1a.org (NPR) March 27, 2018
The continued decline of bee colonies — they fell by a third from 2016 to 2017 — has inspired some criminal enterprises.
A honeybee heist in California led to the discovery of a “beehive chop shop” and thieves scheming to pinch pollinators.
And then there’s honey. “Foods that can’t be differentiated by sight will often be faked, and honey fills the bill,” writes Larry Olmsted, who investigated food fraud for a book.
Complex global trades can obscure the true source — and composition — of the gooey goods in our cupboards. So when we buy a bottle or a bear, how do we know we’re getting the good stuff?
Kim Flottum Editor, Bee Culture Magazine
Eric Wenger Chairman, True Source Honey
Margarita Lopez-Uribe Assistant professor of entomology, Penn State University; she studies how environmental changes impact the bee population.
Gene Brandi Past president, current board member at the American Beekeeping Federation; owner, Gene Brandi Apiaries
How To Make Sure Your Honey Is Real
1. Inspect the label. By law, it must include the honey’s country of origin. The highest-quality honey typically comes from Argentina, Canada, and the United States. And as for the location of the packer: if it’s a distant place you’ve never heard of, that’s a red flag.
2. Look for a stamp of approval. Certification programs like True Source Honey investigate honey supply chains abroad. If honey passes the test, you’ll be able to tell by the certified logo on the label.
3. Do your research. If you’re curious about a honey product or ingredient, you can call the collector or manufacturer and find out more information.
4. Check out your local farmer’s market. That way, you can talk to the beekeeper in person.
“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach,
I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Happy Birthday ~ Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln - Born February 12, 1809
via: Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History
DID YOU KNOW?...Abraham Lincoln was "very fond of honey."
As a child in Indiana Abraham Lincoln was used to eating honey, and a biography quoted the following from a letter written shortly after his death: "Mr. Lincoln was very fond of honey. Whenever he went to Mr. Short's house he invariably asked his wife for some bread and honey. And he liked a great deal of bee bread in it. He never touched liquor of any kind." - 68. N. W. Branson to William H. Herndon. Petersburg Ill Aug 3. 1865
“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”
― Abraham Lincoln
"It is an old and a true maxim, that a "drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall." So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason,..." -Abraham Lincoln, Temperance Address of February 22, 1842 -Springfield, Illinois
Image: Abraham Lincoln photographed holding his glasses and a newspaper on August 9, 1863.
IBRA Source: Journal of Apiculture Research - 2018
The use of honey as an internal and external health agent is much older than the history of medicine itself. In a new article published in the Journal of Apicultural Research, Andrzej Kuropatnickia and colleagues from the Pedagogical University of Krakow, Poland explore the history of the use of honey for medical purposes.
The earliest recorded medical prescription including honey is from Sumer. Honey was used as a remedy against a variety of illnesses in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome (see photo of a Roman honey jar from the IBRA / Eva Crane Historical Collection). There are frequent references to honey in sacred texts. Honey has a long tradition, not only in Western medicine but also in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Honey was not commonly used by medical practitioners after the fall of the Roman Empire. In medieval times honey was not a popular subject of medical texts and very little was written on its use in that period. In the nineteenth century honey was neglected due to the development of modern synthetic medicine. Its comeback has, however, been observable as early as the beginnings of the twentieth century, and honey has been used again as a remedy for a variety of health problems and an excellent wound healer.
The article: “Honey as medicine: historical perspectives” can be found here: http://www.tandfonline.com/…/…/10.1080/00218839.2017.1411182
You can join IBRA here to to gain access to all papers in issue 57(1), and the entire back catalogue of the Journal of Apicultural Research to Issue 1 in 1962 and the entire back catalogue of Bee World to Issue 1 in 1919:http://www.ibrabee.org.uk/2013-05-01-02…/2014-12-12-12-06-01
IBRA is a Registered Charity No 209222. You can make a donation to help our work here: http://www.ibrabee.org.uk/ibra-donations
Bug Squad By Kathy Keatley Garvey January 10, 2018
Take it from the bee scientists. Honey is NOT vomit.
That incongruous belief that “Honey is bee vomit” is resurfacing on a number of YouTube channels, opinion pieces and other Internet posts. It's usually said with great glee: “Honey is bee vomit! It's bee puke! It's bee barf!”
Is it #FakeNews?
We asked noted honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus at the University of California, Davis, whose career in bee education spans four decades, to settle the issue. Although he retired in 2014, he keeps active. Last year he completed a term--his sixth--as president of the Western Apicultural Society. He maintains an office in Briggs Hall.
And he continues to answer questions about bees and honey.
“As for the bees and vomit issue, the explanation requires quite a bit of knowledge,” Mussen says. It's about an "expandable pouch called 'the honey stomach' (which we humans do not have) and a valve called the "proventriculus" (which we humans do not have)."
“As most people know, honey begins as a dilute sugar solution secreted by ‘nectaries,' sugar syrup-secreting glands which are located in flowers or in extra-floral nectaries,” Mussen explains. “Pollen is not a natural constituent of nectar. The nectar is sucked up by honey bees and it passes into an expandable pouch called the ‘honey stomach.' This is the pre-digestive part of the part of the digestive tract that honey bees use to bring water and nectar to the hive. In honey bees and other insects, this ‘crop' precedes the portions of the digestive tract used for digesting food. There is a unique valve between the crop and the ventriculus (midgut), called the ‘proventriculus,' that has rake-like projections that constantly pull particulates, like pollen grains, from the crop contents and push them along for digestion.”
“A nectar-foraging bee,” Mussen points out, “returns to the hive and pumps out the nectar to a receiving bee. An enzyme is mixed with the crop contents that reduces sucrose (table sugar), a disaccharide normally found in nectar, into two monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) that are the principal sugars in ripened honey. If the nectar is not immediately used as a water substitute or for diluting thick honey or solid pollen stores to allow swallowing, it is carried to the area in the hive where honey is being processed. The nectar is passed to processing bees that blend the incoming nectar loads, mix them together, then pump out a bit of solution and hold a small sheet of the syrup in its partially distended mouthparts. Water evaporates from the surface of the syrup. The drier solution is drawn back into the crop and mixed with the other contents.”
“Then the film is again exposed to the air. That process repeats itself until the moisture content of the syrup falls below 20 percent. Evaporation is influenced significantly by the relative humidity. Since honey will ferment at moisture contents above 20 percent, it is important to leave the honey with the bees until it can be immediately processed in locations with high humidity. That honey will seem to be thin. During the summer in California, the ambient relative humidity is quite low--15 percent or less. In that case, honey produced in the Central Valley can have a moisture content of 13 to 13.5 percent. That honey is quite thick.”
As an aside, “pollen grains are likely to be found in honey,” Mussen says. “Wind-blown pollens can fall into flowers that are open faced. Pollen grains are collected by hairs on the bees' bodies. They can get onto the mouthparts and become consumed with the nectar. Nectar-processing bees may have eaten some pollen in the hive before processing the honey. This is how the pollen grains get into honey. They do not necessarily get consumed with the fresh nectar. Physical contaminants of honey have to be quite small, like pollen grains, since the bees ingest all their food by drinking it through a straw-like proboscis with a very small opening at the tip. Most of the physical contaminants are removed by the proventriculus.”
And here's the point: “Since honey never is mixed with digesting food in the intestinal tract, it is inaccurate to refer to honey as ‘bee vomit.' A dictionary definition of vomit includes ‘disgorging the stomach contents through the mouth.' Since a human does not have a crop, the stomach is in direct contact with the esophagus and mouth. In a bee, the proventriculus and crop are in direct contact with the mouth. The digestion of solid foods in bees begins in the ventriculus and there is no way that a honey bee can bring that food back through the proventriculus, or ‘vomit.'
Which begs the question: Why can't we enjoy honey for what it is, not for what it isn't?
We can. Mark your calendar to attend these two events: the second annual California Honey Festivalon May 5 in downtown Woodland (it's held in partnership with the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center) and the fourth annual UC Davis Bee Symposium: Keeping Bees Healthy (hosted by the Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) on March 3 in the UC Davis Conference Center. The Bee Symposium will feature keynote speaker Thomas Seeley, the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University, New York.
Interested in beekeeping? UC Davis Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and her lab will teach a number of classes this spring, beginning March 24, at the Harry H.Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis campus.
The schedule and links to the capsule information:
Planning Ahead for Your First Hives: Saturday, March 24
Working Your Colonies: Sunday, March 25
Queen-Rearing Techniques Short Course: Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22 course; Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29 course
Bee-Breeding Basics: Saturday, June 9
PHYS.ORG By Kerry Sheridan October 5, 2017
Traces of pesticides that act as nerve agents on bees have been found in 75 percent of honey worldwide, raising concern about the survival of these crucial crop pollinators, researchers said Thursday.
Human health is not likely at risk from the concentrations detected in a global sampling of 198 types of honey, which were below what the European Union authorizes for human consumption, said the report in the journal Science.
However, the study found that 34 percent of honey samples were contaminated with "concentrations of neonicotinoids that are known to be detrimental" to bees, and warned that chronic exposure is a threat to bee survival.
Bees help pollinate 90 percent of the world's major crops, but in recent years have been dying off from "colony collapse disorder," a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or some combination of these factors.
"The findings are alarming," said Chris Connolly, a neurobiology expert at the University of Dundee, who also wrote a Perspective article alongside the research in Science.
"The levels detected are sufficient to affect bee brain function and may hinder their ability to forage on, and pollinate, our crops and our native plants."
Neonicotinoids have been declared a key factor in bee decline worldwide, and the European Union issued a partial ban on their use in 2013.
For the Science study, the European samples were collected largely before this ban took effect, Connolly said. Further research is needed to gauge the effectiveness of the EU steps.
Five common pesticides
Bees collect nectar as they pollinate plants, and over time this sugary liquid accumulates into the thick syrup of honey.
To test contamination levels, samples of honey were taken from local producers worldwide, and researchers tested for five commonly used neonicotinoids: acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam.
These pesticides, introduced in the mid 1990s, are based on the chemical structure of nicotine and attack the nervous systems of insect pests.
"Overall, 75 percent of all honey samples contained at least one neonicotinoid," said the study, led by Edward Mitchell of the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland.
"Of these contaminated samples, 30 percent contained a single neonicotinoid, 45 percent contained two or more, and 10 percent contained four or five."
The frequency of contamination was highest in the North American samples (86 percent), followed by Asia (80 percent) and Europe (79 percent).
The lowest concentrations were seen in South American samples (57 percent).
"These results suggest that a substantial proportion of world pollinators are probably affected by neonicotinoids," said the study.
Our planet is home to some 20,000 species of bees, which fertilize more than 90 percent of the world's 107 major crops.
The United Nations warned in 2016 that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators—particularly bees and butterflies—risk global extinction.
Experts said that while the findings are not exactly a surprise, the threat posed by neonicotinoids should be taken seriously.
"The levels recorded (up to 56 nanogram per gram) lie within the bioactive range that has been shown to affect bee behavior and colony health," said plant ecologist Jonathan Storkey, who was not involved in the study.
"Scientists showed earlier this year that levels of less than 9 ng/g reduced wild bee reproductive success," he added.
"I therefore agree with the authors that the accumulation of pesticides in the environment and the concentrations found in hives is a serious environmental concern and is likely contributing to pollinator declines."
According to Lynn Dicks, natural environment research council fellow at the University of East Anglia, the findings are "sobering" but don't offer a precise picture of the threat to bees.
"The severity of the global threat to all wild pollinators from neonicotinoids is not completely clear from this study, because we don't know how the levels measured in honey relate to actual levels in nectar and pollen that wild pollinators are exposed to," she said.
The levels of exposure to harmful pesticides may be far higher than what can be measured in honey, said Felix Wackers, a professor at Lancaster University who was not involved in the research.
"This shows that honeybees are commonly exposed to this group of pesticides while collecting neonicotinoid-contaminated nectar from treated crops or from flowers that have come into contact with spray drift or soil residues," he said.
"The actual level of exposure can be substantially higher, as the honey samples analyzed in this study represents an average of nectar collection over time and space."
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The 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby was this weekend. In the olden days of horse racing, jockeys rode bareback, and used honey to glue themselves to the horse.
Alden Times, December 7, 1883, Alden, Iowa
Old Time Racing
How the Jockeys Were Glued On Their Horses Instead of Using Saddles -The Great Grey Eagle - Wagner Race. in 1838
"I guess I am about the oldest turfman in America," said Henry Farris. The speaker was an old man of 74 years with a frank, open face, and pleasant address.
"I attended the first race that was ran on a regular course in Kentucky. It took place in the fall of the year 1817, on a track near Grab Orchard, Ky., which afterward became famous as the Spring Hill course.
"I remember how the jockeys used to ride in the olden days. They had no saddles, and each man who mounted a horse was required to wear home-made linen pants. A vial of honey was poured on the back of the horse, and the honey coming in contact with the raw linen, formed an adhesion sufficiently strong to keep the rider in his position and enable him to ride with safety."
"I trained the horse which won the stakes in the first exciting race in Kentucky. I speak of the famous horse Josh Bell, who ran three heats in 1:50 over the course in Lexington. This was in 1837. …"
Apitherapy News April 14, 2017 Honey bee products used as medicine Guardian, 4/13/2017
Bee products such as honey, venom have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years for treating wounds, ulcers, inflammation, infections, pain, allergies and cancer.
Bee venom therapy, the therapeutic application of bee venom have been used in traditional medicine to treat diseases, such as arthritis, rheumatism, pain, cancerous tumors and kin diseases. Bee venom contains a variety of peptides including melittin, apamin, adolapin, the mast – cell-degranulating peptide, enzymes (phospolipase A2), biologically active amines (that is histamine and epinephrine) and nonpeptide components with a variety of pharmaceutical properties.
Bee venom has been widely used in the treatment of tumours. Several cancer cells, including renal, lung, liver, prostate, mammary gland as well as leukemia cells can be targets of bee venom peptides such as melittin and phospholipase A2.
In recent study scientists reported that bee venom can induce apoptosis in cancer cells (in human leukemic U937cells) the key regulators in bee venom induced apoptosis are Bcl-2 and caspase-3 through down regulation of the ERK and Akt signal pathway. Melittin, a water-soluble toxic peptide derived from bee venom of Apis mellifera was reported to have inhibitory effects on hepatocellular carcinoma. Melittin inhibits tumor cell metastasis by reducing motility and migration via the suppression of Rac-1 dependent pathway, suggesting that melittin is a potent therapeutic agent for hepatocellular carcinoma. Melittin prevents liver cancer cells metastasis through inhibition of the Rac-1-dependent pathway.
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
Bee venom induces apoptosis in rheumatoid synovial cells through a decrease in BCL2 expression and an increase in BAX and caspase-3 expression. Bee venom induces apoptosis through caspase-3 activation in synovial fibroblasts of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
The Conversation April 3, 2017
Chimpanzees are the closest living relatives to humans. Because of this they can offer invaluable insights into understanding the evolutionary roots of how humans developed their cognitive and technological abilities.
Years of data taken from studies conducted on wild apes suggests that chimpanzees could have something similar to what we call “culture” in humans. Biologists define “culture” as a set of behaviours – such as dietary habits, technical solutions, and communication systems – that individuals of one group share and that are distinguishable between groups. These behaviours are passed on from one individual to another not genetically, but socially by, for example, observing other individuals. These findings have led to a lively debate about “culture” in animals.
One way of understanding the evolution of “culture” among animals is by documenting and analysing the behaviour of wild chimpanzees.
We have completed a study that adds to this body of knowledge. We used camera traps (a non-invasive approach) to monitor the behaviour of members of a community of chimpanzees in the forests of Loango National Park in Gabon. What we caught on camera was that they performed a specific technique to extract underground bee nests.
We were able to directly observe how chimpanzees access a high quality food resource that would otherwise be inaccessible. Our research confirmed earlier observations that chimpanzees use wooden tools to dig out the bee nests and access the honey. This allowed them to achieve similar levels of success as other, more skilled, diggers such as honey badgers and forest elephants, with whom they compete for honey.
Our study adds new knowledge to understanding the behavioural ecology of three species that inhabit a wide range of habitats across Africa.
What the cameras captured
Loango National Park provides an exceptional location to study chimpanzees. The park is made up of a unique combination of coastal forest, mangroves, savannas patches, rain-forest and swamps. The local fauna reflects the richness of the habitat, and includes buffaloes, forest elephants, red river hogs, monkeys, duikers and hippos.
The Loango Ape project was initiated in 2005 to investigate various aspects of the behavioural ecology of central African chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas. Both species inhabit the same area at this unique field site.
Before the cameras were set up, researchers started by looking for signs of apes. They soon came across wooden sticks next to holes dug into the ground, often associated with honeycombs. To expert eyes the sticks suggested that they were being used to extract honey, possibly by chimpanzees.
Honey is an extremely valuable food source for animals because it has a high concentration of sugar and other natural elements.
Thanks to the non-invasive approach we used, it soon became clear that chimpanzees were not the only consumers of the honey from the underground bee nests. It turned out that they had to compete for this resource with honey badgers and, surprisingly, forest elephants.
Competition for the honey
Previous studies carried out at the same site showed that chimpanzees could be excluded from certain feeding areas because of competition with other species, particularly elephants. This prompted us to take a closer look at the interactions among the apes and the other consumers of the underground bee nests.
We found that chimpanzees weren’t affected by the previous visits of elephants, but that they refrained from digging after honey badger visited a bee nest. Honey badgers are known to be fierce fighters, which could explain the chimpanzees behaviour. In fact, this strategy could help chimpanzees to prevent risky encounters with this competitor.
Another challenge for the apes is that the honey is buried deep in the ground – some nests were a meter underground, giving honey badgers and elephants an advantage. Honey badgers are well adapted to digging while elephants are physically strong. Despite this, the chimpanzees we watched were as successful at extracting the honey as the honey badgers, likely thanks to the tools they used which improved their ability to dig.
The use of tools therefore helped chimpanzees access a high quality food resource they would otherwise have found inaccessible.
Overall, our study provided new, fascinating observations about the behaviour of wild chimpanzees. We showed that chimpanzees can apply a complex technique using tools to access a hidden resource. We also showed that they changed their behaviour to avoid risks, such as encountering potentially dangerous competitors.
These results provide more evidence about the range of technological and behavioural strategies that chimpanzees are able to perform in their natural environment.
CATCH THE BUZZ By Keith Loria February 20, 2017
The Union of Concerned Scientists has petitioned the FDA to create “disqualifying levels” of added sugars that would prevent retailers and manufacturers from labeling or advertising high-sugar food products as “healthy,” according to the National Law Review.
The FDA has not changed the requirements of what constitutes a “healthy” food product since 1994, and the agency recently asked for comments to help it decide if the term should be redefined.
The petition will most likely be a topic for conversation at the FDA’s scheduled March 9 public meeting.
The Union of Concerned Scientists collaborates with more than 17,000 scientists and technical experts across the country. With more than 180,000 connections on Facebook and 41,000 followers on Twitter, its opinion can be very persuasive.
The FDA is looking to groups like this during its public comment period to solicit feedback on guidance for the updated definition of “healthy,” just as it did in redefining “natural” last year.
The development of new sugar standards would be a timely update by the FDA. Consumer distrust of sugar is at an all-time high, and local taxes on sugary drinks were met with strong consumer support in several states last year.
The risk of losing a “healthy” label, an identifier that a majority of consumers seek on the products they buy, puts further pressure on manufacturers to reformulate their products. This could be achieved by swapping sugar for plant-based and natural sweeteners, such as stevia extract, agave nectar and honey. Consumer concern over health is no longer just tied to calorie counts — people want their products to be as natural as possible, and sugar has become a major no-no ingredient as a result.
Some companies have responded to this consumer trend by innovating sugar itself, rather than replacing it with an alternative. Nestle, for example, has developed a way to reconstruct the sugar moleculeso that its hollow on the inside. This could allow the confection giant to cut sugar content in its products by up to 40% without sacrificing sweetness.
CATCH THE BUZZ January 17, 2017
People do not need to shell out big bucks for beauty products, especially since some of the best beauty products can already be found on kitchen shelves.
For facial wash, honey is actually a surprising alternative. “Honey is the oldest skin-care ingredient and has been used extensively for both medical and skin-care purposes,” Neil Sadick, MD, the founder of Sadick Dermatology in New York.
People who have skin issues will definitely benefit from a honey facial wash because it can help soothe skin ailments. “It has antibacterial properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and it nurtures the skin. Honey’s particularly suitable for sensitive skin,” said Sadick.
Some people might harbor doubts on honey’s effectiveness as a skin cleaner. But Carla Marina Marchese, the founder and beekeeper of Red Bee Honey, and co-author of The Honey Connoisseur, said the thick, sweet product is a good salve for breakouts. It even has strong antibacterial properties that fight acne.
“Honey has a very low pH, so a lot of bacterias cannot survive in honey,” she said. “It’s about a 3.5 on average on the pH scale, and most bacteria need to thrive in closer to a 7 on the scale.”
But that’s not all honey does for the skin. It’s quite moisturising as well, and can be used by people with chapped noses or super red and dry flaky patches.
“Honey is moisture-grabbing because it’s a super-saturated solution, meaning the bees keep a lot of sugar in a little bit of water,” said Marchese. “So it’s always trying to grab water from the air to balance out the sugar. This is why people use it for baked goods — it keeps them moist for longer.”
However, Marchese warned that people shouldn’t just rush out to the grocery store and purchase whatever honey bottle they can lay their hands on. People should stick to raw honey that can be bought from the local farmer’s market, or even manuka honey, which costs more than the regular honey.
“You need to use the best quality honey that you can get,” Marchese said.
CATCH THE BUZZ From University of Technology, Sydney January 8, 2016
Australian manuka honey is at least as powerful against bacteria as the more commonly known New Zealand variety, researchers have found.
A team led by Professor Liz Harry at UTS has studied more than 80 honey samples from NSW and Queensland flowering manuka (Leptospermum) trees and found the nectar-derived chemical that gives NZ manuka honey its unique antibacterial properties is present in Australian varieties.
The ground-breaking research also shows the antibacterial properties of honey remain unchanged over several years when stored appropriately.
“These findings put Australian manuka honey on the international radar at a time when antibiotic resistance is recognised as a global crisis,” said Dr Nural Cokcetin, of the ithree institute at UTS, a lead author of the study which also includes collaborators at the University of Sydney and the University of the Sunshine Coast.
“All honeys have different flavours and medicinal properties, depending on the flowers bees visit for nectar. What makes manuka honey so special is the exceptionally high level of stable antibacterial activity that arises from a naturally occurring compound in the nectar of manuka flowers. It’s the ingredient we know acts against golden staph and other superbugs resistant to current antibiotics.
“Our study provides the proof for what we’ve long assumed – that this compound, methylglyoxal (MGO), is present in high levels in Australian manuka honeys. We’ve also shown that the activity of Australian manuka honeys has remained unchanged over seven years from harvest, which has huge implications for extending the shelf life of medicinal honey products.”
The findings are described as a game-changer for Australian beekeepers, who stand to benefit from the lucrative medicinal honey market, and clinicians seeking treatments for resistant skin infections and chronic and acute wounds.
While honey has been used therapeutically for hundreds of years, the growing global crisis of antibiotic resistance has revived interest in its clinical use. New Zealand is the primary source of medicinal honey but the country grows only one Leptospermum species, and its honey bee population is threatened by the parasitic varroa mite.
Australia is home to 83 of the 87 known Leptospermum species and is still free of the varroa mite, unlike the rest of the beekeeping world.
The research is part of a five-year UTS project funded by the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC), through its Honey Bee and Pollination research program. There are about 12,400 registered beekeepers in Australia, and about 200,000 hives used for commercial pollination and honey production. The industry produces up to 30,000 tonnes of honey annually.
“It is thrilling to be able to use our research expertise and knowledge to help the bee industry and to address the antibiotic resistance crisis,” said Professor Liz Harry, director of the ithree institute at UTS and lead investigator of the project.
“Honey not only kills bacteria on contact but we have shown previously that bacteria don’t become resistant to honey.
“That the manuka varieties in Australia are just as active as those in New Zealand, and have essentially the same chemical profile, will add significant value to Australian honey for beekeepers and provide a plentiful supply of medicinal honey.”
Honey Bee & Pollination R&D Program spokesperson Michael Hornitzky said the findings could see the value of Australian honey increase significantly as demand rose.
“Discovering this extensive resource base cements Australia’s role in helping to supply the growing medicinal honey market,” Dr Hornitzky said.
“These findings go to the heart of what we’re trying to achieve, and that is to grow a prosperous beekeeping sector. The next step is turning the science into action.”
More information: Cokcetin NN, et al. (2016) The Antibacterial Activity of Australian Leptospermum Honey Correlates with Methylglyoxal Levels. PLoS ONE 11(12): e0167780. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167780
Journal reference: PLoS ONE