Wednesday, 30 September 2009


This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture… The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Celebrate UrbanBees with Bee Culture and For details, visit


Fire at A. H. Meyer and Sons, South Dakota Beeswax Rendering Plant

Protein feeding pays off with better bee health, better survival, better production, and better wintering.  Learn More.

Find out What’s New At Mann Lake right Here

A flammable solvent leak, similar to lacquer thinner led to an explosion and fire in one of the buildings at this large beeswax rendering facility in Winfred, South Dakota on Monday, September 28, 2009.

One employee was seriously injured and transferred to a Minneapolis hospital for burn treatments, and 20 firefighters spent more than two hours at the scene. They focused on cooling a large solvent tank and three propane tanks to protect them from the fire, which gutted the building.


Meyer’s have had similar events in 1990, and again in 2004, according to AP. Meyer’s prepares beeswax for the cosmetics and candle industries.


This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture, The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Subscribe to Malcolm Sanford’s Apis Newsletter right here For a comprehensive listing of beekeeping events around the country and around the globe, check out Bee Culture’s Global Beekeeping Calendar




This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture… The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Celebrate UrbanBees with Bee Culture and For details, visit


Years in the making, Vanishing Of The Bees Debuts in UK Tommorow

Protein feeding pays off with better bee health, better survival, better production, and better wintering.  Learn More.

Find out What’s New At Mann Lake right Here

by Alan Harman


The world’s largest consumer-owned business calls on the British government to commission research into the effects some pesticides are having on honey bees.

   The call by The Cooperative Ltd. coincides with the launch of the feature film, Vanishing of the Bees, which outlines the decline in the honey bee population

   The coop wants everyone who sees the film to write to Environment Minister Hilary Benn MP urging him to fund research into the neonicotinoid family of chemicals.

   Some studies have linked these types of pesticides to honey bee colony collapse.

   The coop announced in January it was was expanding its market-leading pesticide policy and prohibiting the use of all eight of the neonicotinoid family of chemicals on its own-brand fresh produce.

   The banned pesticides are Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Fipronil, Imidacloprid, Nitenpyram, Thiacloprid and Thiamethoxam.

   At the same time, it said it was giving £150,000 ($241,480) for research into the decline of the honey bee, the UK’s largest ever private donation for bee research.

   Last spring the coop’s farms began a three-year research project seeking to identify the optimal mix of wildflowers that can be sown in field margins and on “set-aside” land to attract and support honey bees.

   The coop is the UK’s largest farmer with more than 61,780 acres of land under management.

   The coop’s head of social goals Paul Monaghan says the alarming drop in the number of honey bees and in turn the threat that has on our food supplies is very worrying and it is essential to find out what is happening and quickly.

   “The finger of suspicion has been pointed at some pesticides and in particular, the use of neonicotinoids,” he says. “This family of chemicals has been linked to honey bee declines elsewhere in Europe and that is why they have been restricted in Germany, France, Italy and Slovenia. However, very little independent research into their effects on bees has been carried out in the UK.

   “That is why we are calling for the government, which earlier this year announced that it had put aside £10 million ($16 million) to be used on pollinator research, to carry out a systematic review of the impact these pesticides are having on the well-being of honey bees.”

   Vanishing of the Bees, the latest film to be distributed by the coop is a new chapter in its Plan Bee campaign designed to help halt the fall in the number of honey bees and raise awareness of the issue. The film tells the story of the worldwide decline in bee populations and explores the potential causes behind the losses.

   The coop, after the acquisition of Somerfield supermarkets, is the world's largest consumer-owned business, with more than 4.5 million members and 87,000 employees.

.   The food retail business is the largest division of the coop. It directly operates more than 2,200 stores of various sizes with the biggest geographical spread of any retailer.

   Filmmakers George Langworthy and Maryam Henein say they were drawn to make the documentary because it encapsulates grand issues about ecology, agriculture, economy and politics in a mystery about the amazing little honey bee.

   “Beekeepers and scientists are fascinating people and we really have been blessed with such generous access to their homes, their travels, their laboratories and their innermost thoughts and feelings,” they say.

 To find out more about this film and the film makers go visit their web page here  

 This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture, The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Subscribe to Malcolm Sanford’s Apis Newsletter right here For a comprehensive listing of beekeeping events around the country and around the globe, check out Bee Culture’s Global Beekeeping Calendar



Sunday, 27 September 2009

Apis Newsletter September 27, 2009

Dear Subscribers,

This month's newsletter is delayed.  I have just returned from the 41st edition of Apimondia, held in Montpellier, France.  I posted some information on this meeting on my blog and there have  been a couple of press releases across the World Wide Web on the event.  I returned from a dry, Mediterranean fall to a humid, hot Florida, where we continue to  watch the tropics as the most active part of the hurricane season approaches.  So far the El Nino event appears to have kept these storms to a minimum; we wait with baited breath every year for the first of November. 

Story Project Update:  This project continues.  A  hearty thanks to those who have taken the time to fill out the “structured request for beekeeping stories” that I have requested from those subscribing to this newsletter.  I am still hoping to get others. 

Again, here is the request in a condensed form.  Just reply to this and open as much space that you need at the end of each question:
When did you begin beekeeping?  What specifically got you interested?  Is there a family history of beekeeping?  
What was your first experience manipulating a beehive like?  What did it teach you?  What is the size of your operation (number of hives)?  Do you plan to expand?  Contract in size? What are your major considerations for this?  
Do you produce honey for sale or just as a gift?  Do you market other bee products? 
Do you engage in commercial pollination? 
Are you a member of an association?  Local? State?  Which?  Do you attend meetings?  Do you have a leadership role? 
What short courses have you attended?  What memorable instructors have you had.  What is the most important thing you learned? 
What publications (printed and electronic) do you routinely read? 
Where do you live? What is the climate like? Temperate? Subtropical? What is the configuration of a hive in the region (all deeps) (a deep and a shallow) 
What are the major plants that bees use in your area?  Have you seen any shift in their nectar production? 
Where do you get replacement bees (packages? Nucs?) and queens (raise your own; purchase). What kind of bee do you use?  (Italian, Carniolan, Buckfast) Do you collect feral (wild) bees and swarms? 
What is your biggest beekeeping challenge now?  Has that changed since you began beekeeping? 
Other remarks about your experience that would encourage/entertain or educate the beginning beekeeper.
I give my permission to Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford to use the above in Electronic and printed media:  Your name here: ________________________

The latest edition of Apis UK is now available.  It has morphed into a printed document of some length and takes time to download, but is worth the effort.  See articles on aged bees and how they can become young again, as well  as the latest on  CCD and other articles.  David Cramp, the editor, is doing a good job with this publication, put out by the crew at

Climate change is a hot topic these days and affects both pollinators and  plants.  Check out David Inouye's presentation complete with a downloadable power point presentation. Also the paper by Yves LeConte and colleague at the French INRA station, Avignon, France.

Origin  clarification:  Martin Braunstein from Argentina writes:  "Until today I was convinced that within mitotype «O» was included the subspecies Apis m. caucasica. However, the researchers have included this race under mitotype «C», along with Ligustica and Carnica. There were several imports of Caucasian stock into the US directly from Tbilisi (Georgia). Dr. Everett Franklin Phillips (University of Cornell and Dept. of Agriculture) has written about these introductions until the early 1920`s in past issues of Gleanings in Bee Culture.  I do think mitotype «O» findings are indeed compatible with past Caucasian introductions. However, I doubt there is positive correlation with Apis m. syriaca bees as those you may have seen in the border of Israel. I would appreciate your cooperation to clarify this information."  This brings up an interesting point.  What importations in the past have occurred, from where, and what has been the likely influence on current stocks of honey bee?

Podcasting coming of age:  A relatively new way to broadcast information across the  World WideWeb is by podcasting.  For an  example, local wildlife professional Rob Russell has an active site at Wpn Beekeeping, which covers a beekeeping topic on  the second Thursday of each month.  This month's topic, the small hive beetle.  Check out the archive for more topics of interest

Editor Flottum continues to post information at his blog on the Daily  This is mentioned in his Inner Cover contribution in this month's Bee Culture.  As an example, he describes the situation surrounding Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) mite-tolerance character being selected for in certain breeding programs.  Other posts include the international honey markets, livestock disaster assistance programs, Asian longhorn beetles, and others.  The latest concerns urban beekeeping. See the archive for posts from Editor Flottum's The Daily Green blog and Catch the Buzz.

Latin America news:  For those interested in beekeeping in Latin America, subscribe to the  Apitrack Newlsetter.  Most of this information you will find nowhere else.

Again, I have listed several links of interest at the site.  These include information on the new web site at the University of California, Davis, use of nanobees in disease, the latest on  CCD, and examples of urban beekeeping efforts.

Gleanings  from the  September, 2009  Bee Culture Magazine

Bruce  Sabuda, Pinckney, MI sheds a picture of his hive carrier made out of a golf bag cart.  Kawika Moke, Kehaha, HI says aloha Kauai, where he is not using chemicals on  bees and doing just fine.  Lou Dreon, Gower, MO provides more information about ticks as related in the last Bee Culture.  Charlie Meier, Colorado Springs, CO gives his advice on first aid in the bee yard when it comes to reactions from stings.  Julie Pierzina, Dexter, OR discusses the downside of the screened bottom board from her perspective. 

Editor Flottum provides a history of his relationship with The Daily Green and its "blog."  The push at the moment is for those with pictures of urban beekeeping to send them in for publishing.  Be part of the revolution.  UrbanBees Now!  Also read his CCD update. As always for full CCD information see the MAAREC web site.  In addition, there is the new extension community of practice site on bee health.

Clarence Collison takes a closer look at undertaker bees.  Read why this activity occupies  only a small number of bees and usually for only a day or two. 

Sean Clark and Oliver Pogue describe Berea College's efforts in organic beekeeping.  Read how the college  finally got to the point of submitting an organic management plan to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Jason Nelson describes the death of a drone at the hands of his kids.  Read more stories at his web site.

Ross Conrad takes on honey and infant botulism.  Read why he is at a loss that honey has been singled out with regard to carrying a warning statement and that the statement  still stands, that correlation does not mean causality.

Joe Traynor provides the 2010 almond pollination prediction.  It's all about water, honey and  nuts, he says.  Read why 2006 was a watershed year for almond  growers, but has gone downhill ever since.

Eugene Makovec discusses why reporters often get things wrong and why as a consequence the general public doesn't trust the press.  His examples of things written by reporters amuse, entertain and are concerning. 

Dick Marron, a retired psychologist living in a beeyard in Connecticut contrasts humans and pigeons.  He brings the observations of  B.F. Skinner into the equation and urges  beekeepers to  be careful about jumping to conclusions, especially when it comes to mite control.

Jim Tew weighs in on part two of his opus regarding wintering beehives.  Read about the cluster's  winter furnace and the colony's thermostat. What is a comfortable bee and do honey bees need a restroom break?

Dan Stiles provides a few entertaining bear stories.  Read why preventing wild animal damage is  tricky.  Those, like myself, interested in wildlife scat will appreciate a picture of a pile right next to what looks like a buck knife for scale. 

Jill Jonnes writes about the bees, les abeilles.  She spent some  time in Paris finding honey  in all kinds of places (the Paris Opera House) and brought as much honey, nougat candy and nonnettes home as she could.  For more on France and French beekeeping , see my letters I published from there in  1997

Larry Connor begins a series on teaching beekeeping. Read his observations on doing this in the current climate full of Varroa, CCD and other distractions.  He describes his philosophy in some detail, and also makes recommendations on how to start a site-based, season-long beekeeping essentials class.

Edwin Simon is the Cheapskate Beekeeper.  Read his list of alternative materials, some found in local dumpsters, made of wood, plastic and glass, aluminum, stainless steel. Cheap paint is always available along with a wide variety of possible smoker fuel (manure).

Gwen Rosenberg writes that Junk Day in her Ohio town is a highlight of the year.  Read how bees, pigeons, crinkled newspapers, stray kittens and dead tennis balls have value to anyone in a crowded city scape full of people finding a new  use for a found object.

Connie Krochmal says cacti and other succulents deserve a place in the bee garden.  These include Yucca, Aloe and Agave species.  Don't forget Hottentot fig (Carpobrotus spp.) and prickly pear (Opuntia spp.).

Ann Harman asks where can  you find the most important people when it comes to searching for a speaker for a beekeeper picnic or meeting.  Read why doing a  survey might be a good starting point.  Seasonal and nonseasonal topics abound and  don't forget to look "outside the box."

In all the news that fits, Florida announces the nation's first honey standard, the Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers report collecting 123 swarms in the region, an outbreak of EFB in Scotland  is wreaking havoc, New Zealanders are developing a honey map to protect their market, a British organic group urges neonicotinoids be banned, and manuka honey will soon have a world-wide standard in terms of antibiotic activity.

The Bottom Board features a letter from a beekeeper's wife to her sister concerning the family's bee business.  Read how the family used an observation hive, and specialty labels, and also developed  an educational plan to inform the public about the value of dark honey it produced.  This all seems like a contemporary plan for any budding bee business, which has stood the test of time.  The letter was published in 1917. 


Malcolm T. Sanford

Bee sure to subscribe to Catch the Buzz, Bee Culture's latest releases of importance to beekeepers.  Also access the Apis Information Resource Center , which contains archived articles, listing of  posts on blogs, web sites, and links to related materials.  .

Friday, 18 September 2009


This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture… The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Celebrate UrbanBees with Bee Culture and For details, visit


Our Previous message from Apimondia was by Malcolm Sanford, from his blog Here. Check it out for more information later. This message is from Ron Phipps, Co-Chair of the Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health, author of several books on the subject and an International Honey Broker. His articles are featured in both Beekeeping Journals in the U.S.


International Honey Market - Challenges and Opportunities


September 17, 2009

Ronald P. Phipps

President, CPNA International, Ltd.

Co-Chairman, Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health1.  Introduction

 During the past decade, which opens the new millennium, there has developed an unprecedented appreciation of the vital role to agriculture played by the world’s pollinators, principally the honey bee.  This increased awareness has occurred along with deepening sensitivity to the vulnerability of the world’s bee populations.  It is estimated that up to one third of the world’s food supply is dependent either directly or indirectly on the activity of zoological life to pollinate botanical life.  In some countries, such as Spain, 70% of the crops are pollinated.  For this reason, the health of the world’s pollinators and the vitality of the world’s beekeeping industry have become increasingly essential to the ability of the human race to provide adequate food to sustain human civilization.

 The phenomena of colony collapse disorder (CCD) has elicited the attention of the honey and beekeeping industries, the mass media, and the ministries of agriculture in many nations, underscoring the seriousness of developing effective efforts to protect the world’s population of honeybees.  These issues far transcend the interest of beekeepers.  Large scale modern agricultural practices have led to the development of extensive migratory beekeeping and the subjugation of bees to mono-diets.  These 2 factors may play an important role in increasing the vulnerability of the bee populations to viruses, mites, and other stresses.

 2.                  World Honey Production

 The world’s production of honey is experiencing significant shifts from traditional patterns.  The qualities, types of honey, and the prices are subject to many variables.  These include the impact of the increased volatility of global climatic patterns.  The ocean’s waters were just reported to have increased 1 degree.  Such a change requires an enormous absorption of energy.  Noble prize physicist Stephen Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, has reported that the 10 hottest years in recorded human history have occurred during the past 12 years.  The increased temperature differentials between sea, land and atmosphere have led to increased unpredictability, volatility and severity in weather patterns. In turn, this volatility has led to increased droughts, floods, cold spells and wildfires.   This year Argentina, California, the U.S. Midwest, and Canada have suffered droughts.  India experienced severe drought in almost all of its agricultural districts.  India anticipates its weakest monsoon in 7 years, which may compel large scale imports of food for its large population.

Worldwide honey production has been estimated at 1.3 million metric tons.  The distribution of production among the continents was reported, in 2001, as follows:


Africa                                      12%

North & Central America      16%

South America                      10%

Asia                                        37%

Europe                                               23%

Oceania                                 2%


In the United States, honey production over the past decade has declined from 100,000 metric tons (220,000,000 lbs.) in 2000 to 73,000 metric tons (161,000,000 lbs.) in 2008.   The Canadian crop is currently estimated to be about 20,500 metric tons (45,000,000 lbs.) which is 65% of the 2007 crop.  After reaching a peak of 110,000 metric tons, Argentine production has declined to an estimated 50,000-65,000 metric tons.  These declines have not been merely quantitative but qualitative, with particular reduction in white colors and milder flavors.  As honey production shifts to more tropical regions of the globe, there is increased production of darker honey with special and stronger flavor profiles.  Honey production in the EU has grown modestly, mainly due to incr eases in production in Hungary and Poland.

 The general appraisal is that the 2009 U.S. honey crop will again be short.  It would have taken excellent weather in North and South Dakota and extension of the production season to obtain even an average crop.  While there was anticipation earlier of a potential bumper crop in the upper Midwest, the cold weather in July delayed and shortened the extraction period by a month.  Even though moisture conditions were ideal and clover bloom plentiful, optimistic expectations for the honey crop were frustrated.  Bees were weakened by disease and mites, so beekeepers were unable to make splits. 

 California has suffered 3 years of extreme drought and Texas has had the worst drought in half a century.  The southeast and the northeast have experienced excessive rains, especially during blooms of gallberry, orange and other important honey yielding crops.  Moisture conditions in 2009 in the Dakotas were better than in the past 2 years.

 The total number of hives in the US is down as a consequence of CCD, and honey yields are 60% of normal.  U.S. crop estimates range from 63,000 metric tons (140,000,000 lbs.) to 75,000 metric tons (165,000,000 lbs.) for 2009, which is around or below the smallest American honey crop of 3 years ago.  There is clearly a short term and most probably a long term shortage of white clover honey as pasture lands are converted to soybeans, wheat, etc. to feed the human family, including the large populations in India and China, both of which have relatively low per capita arable land.

 Canada is experiencing winter losses, extremely cold weather and a very cool spring that persisted into mid August.  There is some hope that a surge of better weather in late August may bump the Canadian crop up to 23,500 metric tons (50,000,000 lbs.).   The late crop is predominantly ELA honey from thistle and wildflower.  Due to the cool spring and summer, the Canadian canola bloom was extended as canola loves cool weather.  This also means that the canola content of Canadian white honey continues to increase.

 As is well known, Argentina’s crop for 2008/2009 was significantly reduced and, moreover, significantly darker than usual.  Argentina’s exports to the U.S. dropped by half in 2008 relative to 2007.  The failures of the northern American and Canadian crops mean that there will be significant shortages of white honey, especially clover honey.  Barring the continuation of the 2-tiered market, prices for white honey will remain very firm.

 Recent reports at Apimondia indicate that weather forecasts are for a return of El Nino which should bring ample moisture during South America’s spring and summer production period.  There is optimism that the 2009-2010 crop will be quantitatively larger and availability of white honey will increase.  However, arrival will not occur until mid February-early March of 2010.

 The overall difficulties in feeding the world’s population have also led to significant increases in the production of grains, especially soybeans, corn and wheat.  This has resulted in the conversion of pasturelands with clover and alfalfa fields into soybean and wheat farmlands.  The energy crisis is also leading to significant increase in the production of biofuels, which threatens to reduce the cultivation of the types of botanicals which are favorable to the production of honey suitable for table, food service and baking.

 Both Vietnam and Brazil are emerging as important and responsible producers and exporters of honey.  Both countries have established strict monitoring programs that will lead to traceability and quality control.  Vietnam has increased both their production and introduced various monofloral sources of honey.  Brazil has such a vast territory and such a diverse floral source that the potential for growth and contribution to the world’s honey trade is significant.  The fact that Brazil can produce honey during 12 months of the year is a significant factory in providing continuity of suppl y.  The vast regions of rainforest are allowing Brazil to become the leading producer and exporter of authentic organic honey.

 3.                  Factors influencing markets in consuming countries

 In 2008, the US imported 105,359 metric tons, with the largest volumes coming from Vietnam, Canada, India and Brazil.  During the first 6 months of 2009, US imports were down 10% compared to the first 6 months of 2008.

 In 2007, the consumption of honey in the European Union totaled 310,000 metric tons.  Import prices in the EU have been increasing since 2005.  The effective marketing of honey in Europe we may speculate is the foundation for the high level of per capita consumption in Europe. A strengthening of the Euro is also making the European market an increasingly attractive market to Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and exporters from other major honey producing nations.  Since 2000, the US dollar has declined 35% relative to the Euro.

 In recent years, and most likely in future years, changes in currency rates will have significant effects upon the pricing and the international flow of honey from producing to consuming countries.  The huge deficits in the U.S. economy have led to an explosion of the money supply which threatens the strength and stability of the U.S. dollar, which has served as the world currency for many decades.  Russia, China and, most recently, President Sarkozy of France, have called for the establishment of a new basis for a global reserve currency.  The relative strength or weakness, and the instability, of currency is playing a major role in determining to which consuming countries produce rs will export their honey.

 Antidumping petitions and rulings in the U.S. are also playing an increasingly dominant role in determining the nature of honey markets.  In January, 2009, the U.S. government imposed an antidumping rate of USD2.85/kg. on all Chinese honey exported to the U.S.  China is the world’s largest producer of honey and in 2008 exported over 84,000 metric tons to the world, according to official Chinese Customs reports.  In 2005 China produced approximately 300,000 metric tons, or about 25% of worldwide production, and exported 88,500 metric tons, so it appears that China’s production has been relatively stable over the past several years.  This year drought conditions in northeastern regions of China may reduce production of linden (basswood), buckwheat and sunflower honey.

 We note that the efficacy of antidumping laws in the U.S. may change in that, as part of the condition for China’s ascendance into the WTO, antidumping investigations on China would be assessed for a limited period using surrogate country analysis (in this case India).  Within a decade, if not before, the use of surrogate country analysis for China in U.S. antidumping cases may change.

 Nonetheless, as is well known, the antidumping rulings against Chinese honey in the U.S. have led to striking aberrations in import patterns.  Those aberrations are expressed in the quantity, quality and prices at which honey is entering the U.S.  For example, in the 2nd quarter of 2009, Thailand exported honey to the U.S. valued at $.45/lb. and the average declared customs value of all Chinese imports in 2008 was $.22/lb., a shockingly low value.  In 2008 countries such as India and Malaysia doubled their exports to the U.S. a nd Indonesia quadrupled its exports over the prior year.  It is very revealing to see the contrasts between exporting countries that have emerged over the last decade.

 It is clear to many that there has emerged in America a 2-tiered market.  New reports by the Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Andrew Schneider indicated that Chinese honey has been transshipped through third countries.  Recently there were arrests and confessions by some of the Chinese who were involved.  Other responsible and honest members of the Chinese honey industry have said that such circumvention represents a form of corruption that causes China to “lose its face,” which would also be the case for America if it tolerated such activity. 

 The Indian government in late 2008 issued a prohibition against the export from India of Indian honey blended with honey from other countries.  In June of 2009 the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture issued a monitoring program designed to protect the quality of honey and to prevent export of transshipped honey. 

 The U.S. government has taken a number of serious actions to prevent transshipment.  Nonetheless, the issue of “honey laundering” has become another variable within the volatile and complex international honey trade which has created unprecedented stress on companies operating in the U.S. market and elsewhere.

 4.                  Honey Testing

 As global patterns of the movement of honey between consuming and producing countries change, the need for preventing adulteration, contamination and mislabeling of country of origin has become an acute international need.  Tracing honey back to the beekeepers who collect it is becoming a concern for governments and honey buyers around the world.  Assessment of unadulterated and safe honey poses serious scientific challenges.  The international honey trade will need to develop international science-based standards, which in turn requires global science.  Since there are multiple variables including floral sources, environment, climate, elevation which influence the chemical profiles of honey, international cooperation becomes increasingly imperative in order to establish a data base of authenticated and fully described samples of the world’s honey.  Scientists from the FD A, it is relevant to note, issued a research protocol which states: 

 Variations in a product, such as honey, can come from differences in geographical origin, botanical source and processing technique.  If the database is not representative of the particular commodity, then the method will be valid only for samples covered by the database. . . The goal of this project will be to collect honey from producing countries and determine the chemical compositional data for these honeys. . .This information will enable us to establish a range of compositional values for honeys from around the world.”

 Honey is a byproduct of the complex interaction of botanical and zoological life and multiple metabolic and synthetic processes are involved in the creation of honey.  There can be a multiplicity of chemical profiles of the honey produced within a given country, such as sugar, isotope ratios, color, flavor, pollen, etc.  At the same time, there can be highly similar profiles for honey from different nations, especially among adjacent countries or regions.  The complexity of these variables is illustrated, as Dr. Joseph Bowden, former head of the referee laboratory for the USDA’s honey loan program, pointed out, by the fact that carbon isotope ratios of American honey dramatically differ, based on samples gathered in the first and second year of the study, reflecting differences in aridity and humidity.  Unfortunately the data from the second year was not published.

 It is also the case that honey is a very dynamic and complex product.  In given commercial lots of honey, and even within commercial drums of honey, if the honey contains multiple floral sources, there are different rates of crystallization which lead to extrusion of both moisture and protein from bottom layers to upper layers.  This means that establishing authentic and representative samples of honey is complex.  If we are to authenticate the origin of honey a more comprehensive data base is absolutely necessary.  The establishment of such a credible and comprehensive data base requires scientific analyses conducted by university, government and private researchers.

 Since bees, like other biological organisms, are vulnerable to disease, and furthermore, purely natural and genetic means thus far are inadequate to protect bees, beekeepers throughout the world must use miticides and other chemicals to protect the bees.  This means that honey does not dwell in a realm of absolute purity, devoid of residues.  There needs to be international cooperation to establish safe standards, testing parameters and testing levels, as exist in most countries for poultry, meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables.  In assessing both health benefits and health risks, medical science requires reference to the average daily intake (ADI).  The international flow of honey will require international cooperation to confront the facts and establish standards that will allow beekeepers to protect their bees and food manufacturers to protect the health of consumers.

 Many medical practitioners realize that as instrumentation becomes ever more sophisticated, to the point of being able to detect parts per 10 billion, the dilemma of testing the test, rather than testing for health risks, emerges.  This is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, whose presence no one acknowledges.  We must confront the facts and bring a science-based approach so we can both protect bees and human consumers of honey.

 5.  Honey and Health

 There is a golden opportunity for the use of good science as a marketing tool for communicating the benefits of honey to manufacturers, retailers and consumers.  The Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health was established in 2007 in the U.S. by leading producers, packers and importers to encourage research on the scientific basis for honey’s health benefits.  It is essential to conduct advanced scientific research if we are to confirm the ancient intuitions that honey, as a natural product, has health benefits.  Those intuitions have been expressed in many cultures for several millennia.  It is now becoming possible to scientifically investigate and confirm those intuitions of honey as a health promoting product of nature.

 In January 2008, the Committee held the first International Scientific Symposium in Sacramento, in conjunction with the U.S. National Beekeeping Conference.  Scientists from Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, and U.S. presented scientific research on a wide variety of health concerns.  The Symposium was covered by local and national media, including widely read national health magazines, and had an audience reach of over 67 million “hits,” which is considered to be very impressive.  Several members of the Committee, including President Red Bennett and Dr. Stefan Bogdanov, are attending Apimondia thi s year. 

 Dr. Ron Fessenden and I, as founders and Co-Chairmen of the Committee, have begun discussing the possibility of a second symposium to be held in 2011.  We note that other industries, such as the almond and tea industries, have greatly increased consumption and prices obtained for their products in large part because of the establishment of effective health messages.  Some of the initial research indicates that honey may be beneficial for cough suppression, weight management, brain health, and sleep duration.  Research on honey and its relation to major diseases is taking place in various countries.  For further information, please see the website

 6.                  Marketing of Honey to the Consumer

 The international honey industry presents great opportunities for more effective and creative marketing of this wonderful product of nature.  When we look at the markets for wine and tea, we see a tremendous surge in consumption over recent decades.  These natural products have woven into their marketing strategies several important themes, including:


1)                 the wide variety of qualities and diverse flavor profiles offered;

2)                 the beauty and geography of production;

3)                 the diverse modes of consumption; and

4)                 health messages that have emerged in recent decades.

All of these marketing strategies are available for honey.  Some countries, especially in Europe, have successfully utilized such messages.  Honey is produced in many beautiful natural settings from gorgeous fields to forests, and urban and suburban populations are very receptive to this beauty.  The wine industry conducts tours of vineyards and provides tasting opportunities.

 Compared to world cane and beet sugar consumption, world honey consumption is less than 1%.   In terms of per capita consumption, in the United States we consume about 1.1 lbs. (1/2 kg.) of honey per person per year, but 63 lbs. of sugar, according to some estimates.  If you add other sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup and other sweeteners, world honey consumption looks even smaller.  That means that honey should not be bought, sold or marketed as a mere commodity. 

 Marketing studies consistently show that when products are sold inexpensively, consumers’ perception of the value and intrigue of those products declines.  The average retail prices of honey have increased in the U.S. by 16% over the past 24 months without any corresponding decline in consumption, which is estimated to be between 180,000 metric tons (400,000,000 lbs.) to 225,000 metric tons (500,000,000 lbs.) per year in the U.S.  In the industrial realm, honey is widely used to market cereals, breads, and snacks, despite the fact that the percentage of honey in the products is small.  This means that the opportunities to increase both retail and industrial consumption of honey are significant.  To realize that potential will depend upon the use of creative and sophisticate d marketing strategies by both individual companies and national honey organizations. 

 Honey has the potential to more fully participate in the growth of natural and organic foods.  In a very comprehensive way, honey is part of the global movement towards green foods that are environmentally friendly.  Indeed, the production of honey is essential to the vitality and health of the global environment.

 7.                  The Future

 When we reflect upon the global macro economic and political trends over the past few centuries we witness increased international interdependence, cooperation and integration.  The emergence of the European Union, the WTO, the North American Trade Agreement and ASEAN bear witness to this trend towards economic integration.  The cumulative future consequences of global economic integration will include an inevitable reduction in tariff trade barriers, non-tariff trade barriers and agricultural subsidies.  There will need to be a corresponding strengthening of international law in order to ensure that international trade is conducted with fairness and integrity.

 The mathematical theory of geometric fractals is revealing that large scale integration of living organisms and social organizations leads to greater efficiencies in the utilization of energy, i.e. less natural resources are required as inputs to achieve the same or greater outputs.  The global trend towards higher levels of integration, interdependence and cooperation is an irreversible historic trend.

 As a result of the above considerations, the international honey industry will have to adjust in at least two major ways.  Firstly, we need to preserve the incentive to produce and the incentive to consume honey, and keep all segments of the industry, including producers, exporters and importers, packers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers functioning as healthy segments of this large interlaced network.  Secondly, the past practice of seeking to attain competitive advantage by erecting barriers to restrict supply must be superseded by effective marketing strategies to increase demand so that it stays ahead of global supply.  A creative transformation is essential to achieving both increased demand and increased remuneration for honey, with its intriguing diversity of qualities, its health benefits and its roles in both providing a natural and delicious sweetener and feeding the plan et.

The future of the honey industries in all the major consuming countries will depend upon enhanced international exchanges, including on beekeeping practices, the development of the honey and health message, and the marketing of honey in respect to its marvelous diversity and its enduring romance.

This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture, The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Subscribe to Malcolm Sanford’s Apis Newsletter right here For a comprehensive listing of beekeeping events around the country and around the globe, check out Bee Culture’s Global Beekeeping Calendar






CATCH THE BUZZ - Our Correspondant From Apimondia Reports In

This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture… The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Celebrate UrbanBees with Bee Culture and For details, visit


From Apimondia in Montpellier, France

Protein feeding pays off with better bee health, better survival, better production, and better wintering.  Learn More.

Find out What’s New At Mann Lake right Here

 I finally got a respite to post information to this blog about the 41st edition of Apimondia. I got Montpellier three days ago, after a visit to Paris, Avignon and San Remy de Provence. The pre-registration here is rumored to be 3,000; most don't think attendance will reach much higher than that although I don't have access to official information on attendance. Several themes of the congress are apparent; one is the colony losses around the world that have been reported ever since the CCD situation in the U.S. reared its head. The European Union has mounted a big project called COST network COLOSS and participants, including U.S. researchers, attended an event before the Congress will be attending several meetings in the future on this situation. The U.S. is not the only area where losses are unacceptably high it seems.

As part of the colony loss situation, there is an emphasis on bee health during the sessions at both bee biology and and bee health sessions. One problem is that measurement of colony losses is not uniform. A questionnaire is being circulated about perceptions of losses in various countries, but there is no objective measurement of this at the moment. This will a major goal of the COLOSS project.

The two most important areas of advances in bee science reported here are those associated with genetic studies (the role of genetic diversity and mapping) and those studies associated with the honey bee brain. Bees are no longer considered "dumb robots"; they can learn and have innate intelligence as well as cooperative thinking. One presentation was entitled "How can honey bees learn from robots?" A whole lot it seems. Another suggested that aging in the brain could be reversed in honey bees by artificially reverting them from aged foragers to younger nurse bees.

Describing the genome has led to many new possibilities in studying bee health. Chips arrayed with various genetic combination are becoming more and more available and mapping the genes for Varroa tolerance and disease resistance is a rapidly developing field. The evolution of honey bees has been revolutionized; it is now thought to be an African root, not an Asian one where the other Apis species are located. Loss of diversity in some places where Varroa has taken out much of the wild population is made up for in areas where diversity has and continues to be maintained. There is much concern about conserving wild ecotypes as human beekeeping and bee movement seeks to globalize the population. Many selection programs do not take into account ecotype, color or other traditional measures; instead honey production, Varroa tolerance and disease resistance are the goals.

As is the case for the past two Apimondias, the number of papers on the biology and treatment of Varroa is greatly reduced. Instead there are increasing numbers of study on Varroa-tolerant populations and breeding programs taking advantage of this trait(s). Perhaps the most colorful speaker on this subject is Dr. John Kefuss, who addressed the American Beekeeping Federation, a few years ago on his "Bond" test results in France, where he has produced a population of bees not needing treatment in some cases for 5 years. He has an open invitation to visit him in Tolouse and he will pay one cent for every Varroa mite discovered in his colonies; the record so far as I recall is a Spanish beekeeper (researcher?) who found a grand total of 9. Over a decade ago, he predicted that there would be 30 genes associated with Varroa tolerance; the actual number found so far is 37. He says that soon Varroa will be rele gated to the sidelines as is the Tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi) at the present time. This was echoed by Yves Le Conte of the Avignon INRA lab during his presentation, where he has also followed colonies that require no treatment since 1992.

Somewhat behind the scenes, the politics of Apimonida is also changing: Gilles Ratia, current president of the Economy Commission, has been elected President as Asger Jorgensen is stepping down. Mr. Ratia plans to open up Apimondia more by instituting commissions from Oceania, Africa and the Americas. The organization will also be involved in a number of meetings around the world before the next world event to be held in Buenos Aires in 2011. There is a lively competition for the congress after that. Most in evidence are the Ukrainians, who officially came out in Melbourne winning many prizes and having one of their own crowned honey queen; they have brought along a musical and dance ensemble, and are lobbying heavily for the meeting to be in Kiev. Others in the running include Spai n (Granada), Italy (Verona), Hungary (Budapest), Bulgaria (Sofia), Turkey (Istanbul)and Slovenia. Brazil waits in the wings for the next congress in the Americas and will host an IberoAmerican Congress in Natal next October.

Another exotic pest has come to the honey bee world, beginning in France but could be introduced elsewhere. This is the oriental hornet, Vespa velutina, which has devastated hives in some parts of the country, but not in all. The French are learning from colleagues in the middle east like Jordan and Israel challenged by Vespa orientalis ways to confront this invader. The sizes of the nests on display here are pretty impressive, reaching two or three times those of the bald faced hornet seen in the U.S.

Besides sessions from the regular commissions including Economy, Biology, Bee Health, Pollination, Technology and Quality, Apitherapy and Rural Development, the 41st Congress also includes four round table discussions, two on pesticides (the effects of neonicotinoids like imidacloprid and others (e.g. fipronel), as well as the effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)and the role of veterinarians in beekeeping regulation and education of beekeepers. A big difference between the U.S. and the rest of the beekeeping world is that veterinarians are not involved in bee health in the former, but are very much so in most of the rest of the world. A fourth round table is on the use of honey bees as so-called "sentinels of the environment, which is the official theme of this year's Congress.

The Montpellier event is also perhaps the first Apimondia that has an official outreach to the general public. Thus, at the entrance to the meeting at Le Corum, an array of tents has been erected including a good many displays from environmental groups such as Greenpeace. In addition, each day there is children's program, including things like movies and actors on stilts.

The Congress goes on two more days; the last (Sunday) to be an excursion to a nearby region. It will include visits to apiaries and tourist sites. I hope to be able to post something else before I leave, but am not optimistic since I am finding
little time to do so and am experiencing intermittent computer problems.

 This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture, The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Subscribe to Malcolm Sanford’s Apis Newsletter right here For a comprehensive listing of beekeeping events around the country and around the globe, check out Bee Culture’s Global Beekeeping Calendar




Thursday, 17 September 2009

CATCH THE BUZZ - Asian Beetle Uproar

This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture… The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Celebrate UrbanBees with Bee Culture and For details, visit


Following is a letter Bee Culture received yesterday, Sept 16, regarding a very unique situation that may, or may not occur in Massachusetts today. I was in this city last fall and talked at length to beekeepers and USDA officials about the problem. Since then it has come to the following….

Protein feeding pays off with better bee health, better survival, better production, and better wintering.  Learn More.

Find out What’s New At Mann Lake right Here

Yesterday’s Boston Globe article on the subject can be found here…I suggest you read it for background, it is very enlightening:

Additional comments in local papers are at:



This (very slightly edited for length) letter from Dean Stiglitz is a local beekeeper’s comments and concerns:

RE:  Asian Longhorn Beetle Eradication (ALB) Effort and the fall application of imidacloprid by APHIS in Worcester County, MA.

 First, I do not believe that imidacloprid is the cause of recent well publicized honey bee die offs.  Imidacloprid does kill bees in isolated incidents, some of these are well documented, and there is no question that it is extremely toxic to bees if they encounter it.  The issue here is with the ALB treatment and is unique. My wife and I are beekeepers in Worcester County, Massachusetts.  Our colonies are outside of the treatment zone, but not far away.  We attended the initial public when the ALB was first spotted.  I participated in the forum, and made important contacts at APHIS, notably, Bob Baca, whose job is environmental compliance.

 I was involved with APHIS to setup a monitoring program of the proposed treated area. Bob Baca, our county bee inspector Ken Warchol, Jeff Pettis (of the USDA Beltsville Bee lab)and one of his a graduate students, and our state apiarist, Al Carl, are also involved in the study of 25 hives inside and 25 outside the treated area to be monitored for 3 years. 

 I don’t believe that the Environmental Assessment done by APHIS is sufficient to justify any treatments. As part of the assessment they must determine if the bees will encounter enough imidacloprid to cause harm, but no one has data showing how much imidacloprid will end up in the pollen, nectar, and/or plant resins (that bees collect for making propolis) of the early blooming maple trees; certainly not with the dosages used over the 3 year treatment time proposed by AHPIS.  Without this data, any assessment from APHIS as to the impact on honey bees is impossible.

 The response from APHIS includes: "The imidacloprid treatments will continue to be conducted in accordance with the label, which allows treatments to occur any time of the year so long as bees are not visiting flowers while treatments are being conducted." Fall treatments are scheduled to begin today.

 Consider the following.

 1.  Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide, designed to spread to every part of the plant inlcuding the pollen and nectar.

 2.  The requirement that treatments not be conducted while bees are visiting flowers is to protect bees from being poisoned by this product.  The manufacturer feels that the product is toxic enough to require this in application.

 3.  The trees are treated in the fall, and the imidacloprid spreads to all tissues.  Bees forage and collect pollen and nectar in February, contaminated by unknown levels of this chemical.  Later, the beetles emerge and get poisoned while chewing their way out of the tree, or when they try to chew their way in to lay eggs. (I feel) This is a violation of the intent of the label because you cannot claim that the time period between when the pesticide is applied and when it is designed to be effective on the target insect (ALB) is not “the time period the treatment is being conducted”. (see APHIS statement, above). Thus, these treatments (should be considered) illegal and are probably deadly to honey bees.  To claim that bees not be visiting flowers during applicaton would allow nighttime treatments, or treatments in the r ain on any flower at any time.  This interpretation is clearly not what Bayer intended when drafting this requirement.

 4.  Tree or soil injections of imidacloprid are not applications of topical pesticides that quickly break down.  Imidacloprid is being used in the fall because it will keep the tree toxic through spring, past the time bees will be foraging.

 Communication with APHIS (and Bob Baca specifically) has been easy and productive.  I greatly object to what they are planning to do, and the justifications they use to do so, but nothing seems to have been secretive or done behind anyone’s back.  I couldn’t be more impressed in this regard.

 I believe the fall application to be illegal, and contrary to the label requirements.  If you believe the same, please email the following people at APHIS, as these are the folks I’ve been corresponding with.



Dean Stiglitz

This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture, The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping

 Subscribe to Malcolm Sanford’s Apis Newsletter right here For a comprehensive listing of beekeeping events around the country and around the globe, check out Bee Culture’s Global Beekeeping Calendar