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Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 | Author:

 

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey

Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/11/tests-show-most-store-honey-isnt-honey
BY ANDREW SCHNEIDER | 

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.

honey-without-pollen-food-safety-news1.jpgIn 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 Onsted, 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.

food-safety-news-good-honey-sample.jpg“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-safety-news-Vaughn-Bryant-honey-tester.jpgFood 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.”

food-safety-news-Sue-Bee-honey-ad.jpgOne 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.”

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 | Author:

Feral Honey from LA

I love it when other people express for me what I want to share, especially on video. I wish my blog was more of a daily-life-of-a-beekeeper story, but it’s not. Mr. “Kirkobeeo” in Los Angeles, CA, however, is doing just that with a well-tooled web log of his natural, “organic” beekeeping practices. Unbashfully declaring that “we’re going to change the world,” his blog includes fantastic, well-edited videos of his adventures catching swarms in L.A. of all places, promoting urban beekeeping. He even posts these beautiful short audio reports, it’s like listening to messages from him on your telephone voicemail. You’ll learn a lot quick by reading http://beehuman.blogspot.com. Kirk is a beautful soul, who deserves well-paid tenure at Earth University. May he be rewarded for his tireless efforts! It is written. -DNR

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 | Author:

This is an inspirational project in Africa similar to the ex-miners in Brazilian National Parks becoming tour guides. http://www.bee4bushmeat.org/beekeeping.htm

Monkey Hunters Become Beekeepers Instead in Africa

Somewhat related, monkeys in Congo have been seen using wooden tools to get honey. Watch the video!

Monday, March 16th, 2009 | Author:

http://www2.anba.com.br/noticia_agronegocios.kmf?cod=8082851

21/01/2009 – 14:38
Shipments of the product totaled US$ 43.7 million last year. The United States were the main market and the state of São Paulo, the leading supplier.

Agência Sebrae*

Miamel Seeks Arab Buyer for Its Brazilian Honey

Brasília – Despite having been full of challenges for the Brazilian beekeeping industry, the year of 2008 ended with positive figures and record-high pricing. The industry doubled the value of its exports, totaling US$ 43.57 million, and the volume of foreign shipments grew 42% (18,270 tonnes) in comparison with 2007, when sales totalled 12.900 tonnes, with revenues of US$ 21.2 million.The higher increase in export values, when compared with volumes,

is due to the fact that the average price charged for Brazilian honey in 2008 (US$ 2.83 per kilogram) was the highest in the history of Brazilian exports. The figure surpassed the US$ 1.64 per kilogram paid for the product in 2007, and broke the record attained in 2003, which was US$ 2.36 per kilogram.The figures were taken from the survey consolidated by the analyst at the Sebrae Agribusiness

Unit and national coordinator at the Sustainable Integrated Beekeeping Network (Rede Apis), Reginaldo Resende. The reference is the Internet-Based Foreign Trade Information Analysis System (Alice-Web), of the Foreign Trade Secretariat (Secex), under the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.

The challenges faced last year include the end of the European embargo on Brazilian honey, which took place in March. As a consequence, the industry, which is the 11th largest global honey producer and ninth largest exporter, had to implement Good Practices and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) at depots and honey stores, in addition to meeting the register requirements with the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.

Destinations

Brazilian honey packaged by US grocery store and labeled 'organic' in Nov 2008 - photo by pollinatethis.org

Despite the economic crisis, the United States was the main destination for Brazilian exports in 2008. The country answered to 73.1% of total sales, with revenues of US$ 31.84 million, considering a price of US$ 2.32 per kilogram of honey.

To Germany, Brazil sold US$ 7.188 million, i.e., 16.5% of exports, considering a price of US$ 2.66 per kilogram, way above the overall average. The third largest buyer market for Brazilian honey was Canada, which answered to 5.3% of sales (US$ 2.308 million), considering an average price of US$ 2.57 per kilogram of honey.

São Paulo was the state that exported the most, totalling US$ 13.3 million, answering alone to nearly one third (30.5%) of exports. Rio Grande do Sul ranked second (US$ 8.69 million), with approximately one fifth of the export value (19.9%). The ranking continues with Ceará in the third place (US$ 6.74 million), Piauí (US$ 4.41 million), Paraná (US$ 3.8 million), Santa Catarina (US$ 3.52 million) and Rio Grande do Norte (US$ 2.11 million).

Other states were Minas Gerais (US$ 667,130), Maranhão (US$ 187,970), Pernambuco (US$ 71,710) and Espírito Santo (US$ 181,00). The best price was the one charged by the state of Ceará: US$ 2.62 per kilogram.Biodinamic Institute certified organic honey from Brazil

Among the companies that exported to Europe, three are from Ceará, two from Santa Catarina, one from São Paulo and one from Paraná. However, only two companies from Santa Catarina answered to 71% of export value. “It is worth noting that exports to the European Union would increase, if only there were more depots accredited with the Ministry of Agriculture for exporting honey to Europe, as that market purchased good quantities and paid better prices,” says Reginaldo.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

Photo by thebeekeeper [at] pollinatethis.org

Friday, March 13th, 2009 | Author:

UPDATE 3/14/09 – The Greenwich Post newspaper reported in 2008 that McNitt’s honey testing “found no trace of another insecticide called Imidacloprid“… Jim McNitt commented on my first post, however, that Eliza just won again this year two top Life Science prizes at the 2009 Connecticut Science Fair for her continued research on pesticides in honey (read his blog). Most notably, he writes that she in fact did find imidacloprid in her testing. “This year, Eliza used HPLC to examine pollen, beeswax,Eliza McNitt 2009 Photo by Frank LaBanca beebread and dead bees gathered from the Arboretum hive for traces of imidacloprid… Her work confirmed the presence of high levels of imidacloprid both in the hive and on the extremities of the Arboretum honey bees.” So, what’s the story behind the story, here? Why did the newspaper report the contrary? Did last year’s research methods differ from this year’s? Was there a sudden spike in imidacloprid usage near the Arboretum study location in the past year? Stamford, CT is a place of wealth and immaculate lawns. It would be nice to see a survey of the gardeners and home owners about what products they put on the lawns. Do they use any of those recently banned in Canada? Would the local garden supply shops provide stats on sales of certain products for local research purposes? Mr. McNitt says’s he’ll send me the link to her research PDF for us to post here. I can’t wait. Thanks for keeping us posted. [his response and link is here : McNitt 2008 Research.pdf] (Photo by Frank LaBanca)

  • What are the possibilities of other high school students around the country sending samples to Greenwich High School Paperfor testing?
  • Could there be a continuing research program set up there?
  • What are the costs to the school for conducting the tests?
  • Is it complicated to test using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) technology?

Looks to me like future students at Greenwich High could expand on McNitt’s research and follow in her award-winning footsteps. They have a great research location, ability to survey properties within a 4 mile radius of the hives and perhaps even discover and map the places where the bees are picking up imidacloprid, down to the product name. The next test in the Greenwich High School CCD Research Program should be of the water supply, an often overlooked source of contamination – bees drink water and use it to cool the hive! Science teacher Andy Bramante may need some TA’s, too. ;) – DNR

Jim McNitt Website Screenshot

http://www.jimmcnitt.com/Site2/Blog/Entries/2009/3/13_And_the_winner_of_the_2009_Connecticut_Science_Fair_Is…..html

———————

3/13/09 – Just yesterday I posted some 2008 news about this young woman, and today I see she’s more scientist researcher than film maker! If there’s any high school that would have its own advanced Spectroscopy and Chromatography technology, it would be Greenwich High School. Lucky girl. I’m waiting for Eliza to send me the link to her research (use comment)… Congratulations! You deserve a full ride to college. (Stick with the hard sciences ;) ) -DNR

Mar 12, 2008
Greenwich High student wins science competition

http://www.acorn-online.com

Eliza McNitt, a Greenwich High School junior, captured top honors at the 45th Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium for an original research project that traced the migration of pesticides through the production of southwestern Connecticut honey.

In addition to a $1,000 scholarship and letter of recognition from Gov. M. Jodi Rell, McNitt will represent Connecticut at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at Orlando, FL, in May. The symposium program is sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force in an effort to encourage original scientific research at the high school level. Courtney Fogwell, a GHS senior, was selected as a National Symposium alternate for her project analyzing the environmental impact of artificial-turf playing fields.

Eliza and Courtney were among 13 state finalists who made oral presentations before an audience of more than 300 fellow science students, parents, teachers, and jurors at the University of Connecticut in Storrs on March 10. Both students were mentored by GHS science teacher Andrew Bramante.

“While extensive work has been done on the presence of residual insecticides on fruits and vegetables, there has been little significant scientific research on residual pesticides in honey,” Mr. Bramante said in a release. “Eliza came to me with her project on the first day of class. I almost fell off my stool when I heard it.”

Eliza says that the topic was indirectly inspired by her grandfather, a chemical engineer, who is fastidious about washing and peeling fresh produce.

“If there are insecticides on an apple,” Eliza said. “It made me wonder if they could also be present in honey.”

She found an ideal controlled research environment at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, Bartlett Arboretum Mapwhich maintains an apiary in the middle of its 30 acre property. James Kaechele, arboretum education director and beekeeping specialist Andrew Cote´ made honey samples available along with detailed records of pesticide applications.

Eliza tested the arboretum honey using advanced Spectroscopy and Chromatography technology that had been donated to the GHS science program.

“I was incredibly fortunate to able to perform my own analysis,” she says. “GHS has equipment that you can’t even find in most colleges.”

Her tests revealed the presence of a component of the pesticide Neem Oil — which is widely used in organic farming. Neem Oil is made from the fruits and seeds of Neem, an evergreen tree common in India, and is not thought to be harmful to mammals, birds or bees.

The fact that Eliza found no trace of another insecticide called Imidacloprid may have implications in the search for a cause of the mysterious syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in which worker bees abruptly disappear. CCD is considered a serious threat to the pollination of food crops in the United States and Europe.

“Imidacloprid is under investigation as a contributing factor in CCD,” she said. “The fact that it is not present in the Arboretum honey could suggest that it is killing or disorienting worker bees so they cannot return to the hive.”

The topic will be something she’ll tackle in her next GHS science project. [see McNitt's followup here]

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 | Author:

My recent visions include creating a Live Hive ™. A Live Hive ™ is a high-tech monitored beehive complete with internal, infra-red micro video cameras, chip-tagged bees, microphones to monitor hive audio, external camera to monitor comings and goings, temperature sensors, solar panel – all data fed live to schools around the world via the Internet – LIVE 24hrs. It’s a Real World Beehive Show. We need our young to observe bees, for the sake of their own survival. We can now computer-record thousands of hours of high quality audio without a problem, enabling us to observe the change in frequencies within the hive, which I believe is key to understanding honeybee health and intention. (UPDATE: oops… This cool hive webcam seems to have had my idea already!) Here’s a cool example technology below (not German).

Beehive Temperature Data Logger

Furthermore, undergraduate UNC student, Andrew Pierce, et al found that the queen doesn’t decide hive actions herself, but rather “older workers gave signals to the queen and to the rest of the colony that it was time to swarm and leave the hive. Later, they were able to observe inside the swarm itself and see workers give the queen a signal, known as ‘piping’ that tells her to fly.” (read: University of North Carolina at Charlotte) How did they do this?

Today I discovered a gem of an article published four years ago in Der Spiegel magazine from Germany (below) that lifts my hopes that my Live Hive ™ concept will become reality sooner.

In an experiment that’s the first of its kind worldwide, they are creating precise movement profiles for their winged subjects. To this end, tiny transponders have been attached to the backs of thousands of bees. Each radio chip costs one euro and is attached to the bee with a dab of shellac. The chip weighs only 2.4 milligrams, about one-thirtieth of the maximum load a bee can carry, and therefore doesn’t present much of a impediment to the insect.”

The gear exists on the consumer market, we just need to buy the parts off the shelf and deploy the Live Hive ™ in concert with thousands of observing students of all ages to give researchers feedback and notes to accelerate our open knowledge. Google’s computer array should be suitable drive space. Wikipedia that! Pollinatethis!

Finally, Richard C. Hoagland unearthed an interesting nugget about hive sounds in a beekeeper’s recording of a hive noise he heard twice, last back in 2006 – Hoagland played the sound on Art Bell’s radio show (part 9) during a show about Colony Collapse Disorder (along with a bunch more about torsion field energy, and theories that bees build “small cell” comb for the sake of frequency resonance improvement at smaller, natural sizes than with larger, human-prompted foundation size cells… He mentions nothing about mite survival rates in large vs small cell… I appreciated Bell’s critical interviewing.) Sort of funny to hear this guy Hoagland reading from BWrangler’s website on Art Bell’s radio show. Need to learn more about torsion field physics and hexagons. Dr. Adrian Wenner’s work on bee communication is noteworthy for this project, too… Has someone already created the Live Hive? Who wants to fund it for me?

02/21/2005

Big Brother in the Beehive
http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,343559,00.html

By Hilmar Schmundt

Bees become increasingly intelligent as they age. They suffer from occupational diseases and travel astronomical distances to produce a jar of honey. Using state-of-the-art monitoring technology, researchers from the German city of Würzburg are revolutionizing our image of mankind’s third most-important working animal.

A snowstorm is raging outside the beehive. Inside, number 6085 is making herself comfortable at a cozy 25° Celsius (77° Fahrenheit) and with an extra serving of sweet nectar.

6085 is a sprightly senior who spends her summers working outside. But for now she is a homebody, spending her time in a world almost entirely of her own making. Her fellow bees expend almost half of their energy making sure their hive is cozy and warm in the winter and pleasantly cool in the summer. The community strictly monitors family planning and carefully controls the intelligence of its offspring. 6085 lives largely sheltered from natural calamities that plague other creatures. Hunger and infirmity are a problem that haven’t plagued bees for over a million years.

“These living conditions sound like something out of a science fiction novel,” says neurobiologist Jürgen Tautz. The white-haired, 55-year-old sits in his office on the second floor of a converted house on the edge of an orchard within sight of the University of Würzburg campus. To convince his skeptical audience that number 6085 truly exists, he proposes an expedition into the exotic world of the bees. Tautz walks down a flight of stairs into his laboratory, where three experimental Plexiglas beehives have been constructed. The beehives even have names, written on paper labels — “Maja,” “Willi” and “Flip.” About a thousand honey bees are crowded into each beehive, including the worker bee identified as number 6085. The Plexiglas window to the hive is warm to the touch, especially near its center, where the royal household crowds around the queen with her long abdomen, making sure she is kept warm, well-fed and clean.

“Bees have achieved many of the things that remain the stuff of dreams for humans,” says Tautz, bright-eyed and speaking with a hint of a local dialect. “We can learn a great deal from them.”

Old bees are the smart ones

A tiny microchip enables scientists to track the habits of bees.

CREDIT: DDP / Fiola Bock / Beegroup Wuerzburg

CAPTION: A tiny microchip enables scientists to track the habits of bees.

The members of his 20-member research team routinely astonish the professional world with their articles in such highly-regarded professional journals as Science, Nature and Zoology. Peter Fluri, the director of the Swiss Center for Bee Research in Bern, is impressed by Tautz’s work. “The results coming out of Würzburg are remarkable,” he says, “and their significance extends well beyond the world of bee biology.”The “Beegroup” laboratory routinely dismantles theories previously regarded as scientific certainty. Until recently, for example, zoologists believed that during the famous tail dance, only those bees directly surrounding the ceremony are quickly informed about a source of nectar. However, the Würzburg researchers discovered that the dance is in fact a refined form of more…

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 | Author:

I’ve read in trade journals and forums about China dumping honey in the U.S., and it’s nice to see some investigative journalism on the subject! Curiously absent from the wonderfully long story is Brazil. (Has anyone else noticed Brazilian honey in U.S. stores?) Brazilian honey labeled organicBrazilian honey sits on the shelf at the Berkeley Bowl (like Whole Foods, but local) for $1.99 labeled “organic” from the USDA. It’s the cheapest honey in the store among many lovely, local honey jars, and supposedly the USDA was in Brazil following the bees to ensure they didn’t land on any sprayed flowers… yeah right. How does it happen that Brazilian honey makes it way into the U.S. more cheaply than local honey, and can even have a USDA organic stamp on it? Certification acceptance, secretly negotiated trade agreements, blah, blah. (Brazil doubled its honey exports in 2008!) When the state of California was planning to spray all of the San Francisco Bay Area with chemicals to prevent spread of the allegedly dangerous Light Brown Apple Moth, I was told at a public meeting that the USDA would have just given “waivers” to all of the organic farms sprayed with chemical agents, thus allowing them to continue selling their products as organic. Truth in labeling? The USDA Organic brand proves again to be adulterated and green washed. Shame on Berkeley Bowl for putting their own name on it, too.

I’ll take this opportunity to post my own photo survey of the honey market I did back in November ’08 at the Berkeley Bowl. You’ll see French and Indian honey labeled organic as well, with prices. Perhaps a followup on the “honey laundering” story will reveal something about Brazilian honey imports. -D

Oakland honey Huber Honey, Cobb, CA Manzanita Honey, CA Hawaian Macadamia Honey Napa Valley honey Meek’s honey Huber Honey, Cobb, CA French lavender honey “organic” Himalayan honey Napa Valley honey Snugglespoon honey California honey

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/394053_honey30.asp

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Last updated 3:01 p.m. PT

Honey Laundering: A sticky trail of intrigue and crime

Country of origin no guarantee on cheap imports

By ANDREW SCHNEIDER
P-I SENIOR CORRESPONDENT

SULTAN — Seven cars with darkened windows barreled east toward the Cascades, whizzing past this Snohomish County hamlet’s smattering of shops and eateries.

The sedans and sport utility vehicles stirred up dust as they rolled into the parking lot of Pure Foods Inc., a Washington honey producer.

Out popped a dozen people in dark windbreakers identifying them as feds — agents from Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some raced to the loading docks. Others hurried through the front door. All were armed.

The man who runs the business, Mike Ingalls, was stunned.

“I just sell honey — what the hell is this all about?” he remembered asking, as he was hustled into a tiny room with his office manager and truck driver.

Three days before the April 25 raid, customs had persuaded a federal judge in Seattle to issue the search warrant shoved in Ingalls’ hands. But it wasn’t until Ingalls read “Attachment D” that he understood why investigators were seizing his business records, passport, phone logs, photographs, Rolodexes, mail and computer files — almost anything that could be copied or hauled away.

  Mike Ingalls
  Mike Ingalls, owner of Pure Foods in Sultan, was raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on April 25, but no charges have been filed against him.

He was suspected of trafficking in counterfeit merchandise — a honey smuggler.

A far cry from the innocent image of Winnie the Pooh with a paw stuck in the honey pot, the international honey trade has become increasingly rife with crime and intrigue.

In the U.S., where bee colonies are dying off and demand for imported honey is soaring, traders of the thick amber liquid are resorting to elaborate schemes to dodge tariffs and health safeguards in order to dump cheap honey on the market, a five-month Seattle P-I investigation has found.

The business is plagued by foreign hucksters and shady importers who rip off conscientious U.S. packers with honey diluted with sugar water or corn syrup — or worse, tainted with pesticides or antibiotics.

Among the P-I’s findings:

  • Big shipments of contaminated honey from China are frequently laundered in other countries — an illegal practice called “transshipping” — in order to avoid U.S.import fees, protective tariffs or taxes imposed on foreign products that intentionally undercut domestic prices.In a series of shipments in the past year, tons of honey produced in China passed through the ports of Tacoma and Long Beach, Calif., after being fraudulently marked as a tariff-free product of Russia.
  • Tens of thousands of pounds of honey entering the U.S. each year come from countries that raise few bees and have no record of producing honey for export.
  • The government promises intense scrutiny of honey crossing our borders but only a small fraction is inspected, and seizures and arrests remain rare.
  • The feds haven’t adopted a legal definition of honey, making it difficult for enforcement agents to keep bad honey off the shelves.

Read the rest of the story, see the maps…

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/specials/honey/

Andrew Schneider’s Secret Ingredients blog