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The materials and information included in this Latest News page are provided as a service to you and do not reflect endorsement by the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA). The content and opinions expressed within the page are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by AHPA. AHPA is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided from outside sources.

      



     

IMPORTANT!

Opportunity for AHPA Members to Receive Dumping and Countervailing Duties Collected on Honey Imports from China and Argentina

In the fall of each year, the federal government distributes to eligible domestic producers the duties the government has assessed and collected on certain imports that are subject to antidumping ("AD") and countervailing duty ("CVD") orders.  For purposes relevant to AHPA members, the government will again distribute this fall AD and CVD duties collected during its fiscal year 2016 (i.e., October 2015 through September 2016) on honey from China and Argentina that was imported into the United States between December 2001 and September 2007, the period during which the so-called "Byrd Amendment" was in effect.  

The government just announced that, as of April 30, 2016, it had collected $4.36 million in AD and CVD duties on honey imports from Argentina and China, and that it intends to distribute this amount to eligible domestic honey producers later in 2016.

For more information and to download forms and instructions: https://ahpanet.site-ym.com/page/ByrdAmendment

 

 

NatGeo has given us permission to send this in our “Latest News”! It is a television piece on honey bees, the White House, and food.  This first aired Friday June 3, 2016.

You can download the 7 minute video via the file transfer location:http://files.natgeonetworks.com/_sQXw0L-zJ-nu4R

or go to their website: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/united-states-of-animals/videos/michelle-obama-and-the-bees/

 

 

POLLINATOR WEEK JUNE 20-26, 2016

National Pollinator Week is a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them

Nine years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.

The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 20-26, 2016 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Find Events
http://www.pollinator.org/pollinatorweek/


National Honey Board and Project Apis m. to Merge Research Efforts Firestone, Colorado, June 8, 2016 – Project Apis m. (PAm) and the National Honey

Board (NHB) are pleased to announce that PAm will be administering the NHB production research funds starting in 2017. This collaboration will streamline efforts to support the beekeeping industry, by merging the NHB funding opportunities with several other efforts which PAm coordinates. The NHB funds are collected by a federal research and promotion program ($0.015/lb) with one of the focuses to conduct research which includes maintaining the health of honey bee colonies. In 2016, these funds were $416,000. PAm administers several initiatives with funding from many sources, including corporate sponsors, private donations and grants. Past proposals received and funded by PAm and NHB have much in common, reflecting similar interests in supporting the industry. Merging efforts means one less round of work for all of our hardworking bee researchers who write proposals, scientific reviewers who read them, and selection committees and administrators who see these processes through. In addition, it will afford us opportunities to see a broader spectrum of projects, put together ideas that have the potential for synergy, and access deeper resources when necessary for projects that may need larger time or money commitments. Increased efficiency to fund and direct honey bee research will save all involved time and money.

The National Honey Board (NHB) is an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that works to educate consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products through research, marketing and promotional programs. The Board’s work, funded by an assessment on domestic and imported honey, is designed to increase the awareness and usage of honey by consumers, the foodservice industry and food manufacturers. The ten-member-Board, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, represents producers (beekeepers), packers, importers and a marketing cooperative. For more information, visit www.honey.com.

 


Scientists Find Genes That Let These Bees Reproduce Without Males

By JOANNA KLEIN JUNE 9, 2016

The female Cape bee is a renegade. She breaks all kinds of rules and disregards orders. In this isolated subspecies of honey bees from South Africa, female worker bees can escape their queen’s control, take over other colonies and reproduce asexually — with no need for males. Scientists identified the genes most likely to have instigated this unusually powerful worker bee behavior, according to a study published Thursday in PLOS Genetics.

The typical story of reproduction is that males and females of an animal species do it sexually. Generally, that’s what honeybees do, too. Sperm from a male drone fertilizes a queen’s eggs, and she sends out a chemical signal, or pheromone, that renders worker bees, which are all female, sterile when they detect it.

But the Cape honeybee, a subspecies that lives in the Fynbos ecoregion, a unique area of incredible diversity along the southwestern tip of South Africa, evolved a workaround where, in some cases, female workers can become something like a queen and produce offspring of their own.

Like all honeybees, some Cape bee colonies also have male drones. But female workers can start laying their own eggs in their home colony when a queen dies. These females will also invade colonies of other honeybee subspecies and lay eggs in some cases, and they can enter undetected by bees that would normally kick them out.

“The Cape bees will take over the foreign colonies and start eating up all the honey,” said Matthew Webster, a geneticist at Uppsala University in Sweden, who led the study. This behavior is called social parasitism.

To understand what was driving this behavior, researchers compared the whole genomes of 100 honeybee subspecies with those of 10 Cape honeybees. Unsurprisingly, the genomes were very similar: The bees look and act the same in every way except for the egg-laying quirk. But a few select areas of the genome were unique on the Cape honeybee genome.

“Normally that doesn’t cause really big differences,” said Dr. Webster. But in this particular bee, the workers lay eggs that self-fertilize and become female workers in their home colonies or the hives they invade.

Genetic differences likely made social parasitism possible by selecting for bees that could develop ovaries to a greater extent than other worker bees, lay eggs prepackaged with two sets of chromosomes, and possibly emit a chemical signal to mask their presence while laying eggs, said Dr. Webster.

This asexual tendency may sound weird, but it’s not unheard-of in biology. A variety of species of ants, wasps and bees can switch between sexual and asexual reproduction. And scientists have documented virgin births in turkeys, chickens, sharks and reptiles.

During a process called thelytoky, two of the Cape bee’s daughter cells fuse together to make a single cell with both sets of chromosomes — just like Thelma the snake, a reticulated python known for her virgin births. Normally, honeybee eggs split during meiosis into four daughter cells with just one set of chromosomes. Those turn into male drones without a father to contribute the other set to make them female.

What scientists haven’t sorted out is why there might be an evolutionary advantage for a female being able to reproduce without a male. In extreme situations with no males, it could mean the survival of her species. But then again, self-fertilization, the epitome of inbreeding, could leave her offspring more vulnerable to disease and other threats.

Dr. Webster hopes to elucidate why this adaptation on the Cape honeybee genome survived.

“Why doesn’t it take over the whole world, and why doesn’t it die out?” wondered Dr. Webster. “There’s no really good answer to that.”

Correction: June 10, 2016
An earlier version of this article misstated the type of cell division involved in the formation of honeybee eggs. It is meiosis, not mitosis.

 

Researchers Learn Reproductive Secrets of Destructive Bee Parasite

New insights into the reproductive secrets of one of the world’s tiniest and most destructive parasites – the Varroa mite – has scientists edging closer to regulating them.

“If you know your enemies better, you can come up with new ways of controlling them,” said Michigan State University entomologist Zachary Huang, whose research explores the fertility of the notorious mite, a pest that is devastating honeybee populations worldwide. The mite sucks the blood of honeybees and transmits deadly viruses.

The Varroa mite’s lifecycle consists of two phases: one where they feed on adult bees, called the phoretic phase, and a reproductive phase that takes place within a sealed honeycomb cell, where the mites lay eggs on a developing bee larva.

The MSU-led study, published in the current issue of Scientific Reports, shows that the mites clearly prefer to infest adult bees at mid-age, or during the nurse phase of a bee’s lifecycle when they take care of larvae, rather than during the younger (newly-emerged) or older (forager) phases of an adult bee. The study also found that the physiological type of a host bee had significant effects on the mite’s reproductive fitness and success later on.

“Our study clearly demonstrated that Varroa mites preferred nurses over the older and younger bees,” said Huang, the study’s lead author. “Further, we showed that feeding on different hosts gave them different reproductive outputs.”

Mites chose bees in the nurse phase of their lifecycle – the nutritional prime of bee life – over their older and younger counterparts at significantly higher rates. Also, those who fed on nurses had the highest reproductive success rates and the lowest infertility rates.

Previous studies have shown that the mites can easily choose their reproductive hosts, but Huang’s study shows that they can go one step further: the mites can correctly pick the most nutritious bees to suck blood from.

“This might seem very smart for the mites because they do not realize the reproductive advantage right away, but through natural selection this is rather easy to achieve,” Huang said. “The mites who made the correct choice will have more babies and their genes will become more dominant over time.”

The recent results have helped researchers zero in on mite reproductive and nutritional preferences and are a significant step in understanding the mysterious, parasitic relationship between the Varroa mite and the honeybee.

“This is an important step in understanding mite reproductive biology,” Huang said. “We can utilize this information as a step toward finding ways to regulate them.”

In future research, Huang will look to identify what precise factors the mites are relying on for their reproductive success.

“If they require a certain factor to have babies we can regulate that factor without affecting the bees – only the mites – and reduce their reproduction,” Huang said. “Instead of killing them with a chemical, this could eventually lead to a more natural way of mite control and a better outlook for honeybees.”

MSU entomologist Xianbing Xie and Zhijiang Zeng from Jiangxi Agricultural University joined Huang as coauthors of the study. Huang’s research is supported in part by MSU AgBioResearch.

- Mark Kuykendall, Zachary Huang via MSU Today

 
Save the Date for 2017

2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow

January 10-14, 2017

San Luis Resort & Galveston Island Convention Center

Galveston, TX

 

Save the date for the 2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow. That’s right, The American Beekeeping Federation (ABF), the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA) and the Canadian Honey Council (CHC) will come together for a combined conference & tradeshow in 2017. This is one conference you won’t want to miss so make your plans now.

 

The conference will be held at the Galveston Island Convention Center in Galveston, Texas. Guest rooms will be available at the following properties:

         San Luis Resort

         Hilton Galveston Island Resort

         The Holiday Inn Resort Galveston

 

With anticipated attendance of 1000+ so this is the perfect place to learn more about beekeeping, share best practices and visit with vendors who have lots of great information to share with you.

 

Features of the conference include:

  • Participation of beekeepers from all over the world
  • Updates from the USDA-ARS bee labs
  • Presentations from industry leaders
  • Interactive hands-on workshops
  • Full-day of sessions for commercial beekeepers
  • Tradeshow full of the latest products and services in beekeeping
  • Lots of networking opportunities
  • And much, much more . . .

 

And, while you’re in Galveston, mixing business with pleasure is easy as the island offers plenty of opportunities for exploring, from the adventure pyramids of Moody Gardens to the thrills of the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. Visitors can learn about Galveston’s unique history at a variety of museums, like the historic mansion Bishop’s Palace or the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA. In Galveston, even shopping and dining are historic, cultural experiences. The Historic Downtown Strand Seaport District boasts of beautiful Victorian storefronts featuring unique shops, restaurants and art galleries just a short walk away from Galveston’s Pier 21 and glistening harbor. We look forward to seeing you in Galveston!

 

 

IPRC Connections-June 2016

Fradulent trade practices cause concern among American honey producers

IPR Center Director Bruce Foucart, members of ICE HSI’s Trade Enforcement Unit (TEU) and representatives from the FDA joined CBP to meet with the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA) in Washngton. It was part of a three- day visit by the AHPA to meet with members of Congress and Administration officials to discuss fraudulent trade in very low-priced honey imports. The AHPA is concerned over honey produced in China that enters the U.S. as a product of another country to evade antidumping duties that apply to Chinese honey, and honey that has been adulterated by adding inexpensive sugars similar to honey. The honey industry is interested in working more closely with law enforcement in the sharing of intelligence regarding non-compliant importers, packers, as well as foreign exporters and manufacturers involved in circumvention, fraud and evasion schemes that will assist law enforcement with investigations going forward. The TEU provides oversight and guidance on HSI investigations involving schemes to evade the payment of duties imposed by the U.S. government on certain imports to assist domestic producers in competing against foreign exporters that are engaged in, or benefiting from, the practice of dumping and/or foreign government subsidies.

 

 

ICE destroys seized illegally imported honey

 

Ag Department launches bee map

Jessica Holdman

Jun 2, 2016

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture has created a searchable electronic map of the state’s registered apiaries.

North Dakota has been the top honey-producing state in the nation since 2004, but balancing the needs of beekeepers with those of farmers and landowners has proved challenging at times.

The new map gives users a visual of where honey producers are operating. It is available to farmers spraying pesticides, as well as members of the general public who want to know where hives are in their area. It is meant to facilitate contact among landowners, beekeepers and pesticide applicators.

The map is searchable down to the section of land, and it lists the beekeepers' names and phone numbers. Beekeepers can make additions or changes to hive locations directly to the map online, allowing for convenience and faster updates.

The website also handles beekeeper license renewals and new applications.

Beekeepers also receive alerts on pesticide spraying activity. When a pesticide applicator registers a spray region on the map, it notifies beekeepers within a 2-mile radius.

The map is part of the North Dakota Pollinator Plan to reduce honeybee exposure to pesticides.

The number of colonies in the state has been on the rise for several years. There were nearly 600,000 bee colonies in 2015, up from 515,740 in 2014, 482,560 in 2013, 484,398 in 2012 and 478,027 in 2011.

In 2014, North Dakota bees produced more than 42 million pounds of honey valued at about $84 million.

The bee map is available at beemap.ndda.nd.gov.

 

Lighthouse News Daily
Honeybees Collect Pollen Contaminated With Pesticides

June 2, 2016 By Martha Goodwin

Honeybees are in great trouble, according to researchers from Purdue University. They discovered the little insects collect their pollen from non-crop plants, which are often infected with urban and agricultural pesticides during the growing season.

The findings published in Nature Communication were part of the study led by Christian Krupke, professor of entomology at Purdue University, and Elizabeth Long, a post-doctoral researcher.

For the study, the team collected pollen samples from 3 locations of honeybee hives in Indiana for over 16 weeks. They were particularly interested in finding which pollen sources were preferred by the honeybees during the season, and whether this pollen is contaminated with pesticides.

Their pollen collection comprises samples from 30 plant families; results showed that 31 pesticides were found in pollen from the untreated cornfield, 29 pesticides in pollen from the treated cornfield, and 29 pesticides in pollen from the meadow site.

According to Krupke, pyrethroids were the pesticides found in the pollen in greatest quantities; they are synthetic products used in a household to repel insects. At the same time, the pollen collected from soybean and corn pollen had high amounts of neonicotinoids, which are toxic to bees.

Researchers also found other pesticides, such as phenothrin – used to keep ticks and fleas away – and prallethrin, for deterring wasps and hornets.

Krupke explained said that even though crop pollen was only a small part of their samples, the bees covered by the study were definitely exposed to a wider range of chemicals than they previously thought.

He added that the high amounts of different pesticides found in pollen samples were also surprising. However, agricultural chemicals are only part of the overall problem.

Homeowners and urban landscapes are also big contributors to the issue, even though hives are usually adjacent to crop fields for this very reason.

The findings are a true illustration of the constant exposure of honeybees to several pesticides during the season, according to Long. The study is meant to be a call to action, revealing how pesticides are a long-term stress factor for bees.

She further explained that if you care about bees as a homeowner, you should only use insecticides when it’s absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you should be aware that no amount of prevention will keep the bees away from coming into contact with them. 

Bee swarm visits "Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee" mural

June 5, 2016, 2:00 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. --Muhammad Ali was a man of many words, but few were more famous than his boast that he would "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" against George Foreman in 1974.

It appears the bees themselves may have heard him.

On Sunday, across the street from the late boxing legend's eponymous center in his hometown of Louisville, a swarm of bees settled into a tree next to a mural bearing one of his most famous quotes, reports CBS affiliate WLKY.

Beekeeper Kevin McKinney told WLKY there were about 15,000 bees in the swarm.

The beekeeper said he's been tasked with handling eight swarms so far this year, but none yet near the Ali memorial.

"The irony is not lost on me at all," McKinney said.

Ali's boyhood home in Louisville, which bears a historical marker, has become the epicenter for people wishing to pay tribute to the champ. Locals and visitors have been pouring in, leaving flowers, balloons and boxing gloves in tribute.

   

AHPA Goes to Washington DC
The Executive Board of the American Honey Producers Association took their annual trip to Washington DC May 16-19 to meet with government officials on behalf of the beekeeping industry. AHPA is widely recognized as the leader of our industry in our lobbying efforts for trade issues, research funding, ELAP, and honey bee health issues.

We met with White House staff, EPA officials, Customs and Border Patrol, USDA, NRCS, NASS, Farm Bureau, Agriculture and Appropriations Committee Chair people, and many Senate and Congress representatives, a total of 26 meetings in three days!

We accomplished a great deal and the meetings were very encouraging. We can see that over the years our hard work has been paying off and that our message in Washington DC is being heard. More people are aware of the issues now than ever before.

Our meetings with all parties on the honey circumvention and adulteration, as well as others, were well received and we know that we will get positive results from it.

We are very grateful for Mike Coursey and Eric Silva for their legal expertise and guidance in addressing these challenges our industry is facing.

We would also like to thank the AHPA board members, Darren Cox, Kelvin Adee, Steven Coy, Joe Sanroma, Randy Verhoek, Mark Jensen, Chris Hiatt, and Cassie Cox for their time and hard work in lobbying for the betterment of our industry.

 

Nation’s Beekeepers Lost 44 Percent of Bees in 2015-16

May 10, 2016

Summer losses rival winter losses for the second year running

Beekeepers across the United States lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss—and consequently, total annual losses—worsened compared with last year. This marks the second consecutive survey year that summer loss rates rivaled winter loss rates.

The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the health and survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Survey results for this year and all previous years are publicly available on the Bee Informed website.

“We’re now in the second year of high rates of summer loss, which is cause for serious concern,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. “Some winter losses are normal and expected. But the fact that beekeepers are losing bees in the summer, when bees should be at their healthiest, is quite alarming.”

Beekeepers who responded to the survey lost a total of 44.1 percent of their colonies over the course of the year. This marks an increase of 3.5 percent over the previous study year (2014-15), when loss rates were found to be 40.6 percent. Winter loss rates increased from 22.3 percent in the previous winter to 28.1 percent this past winter, while summer loss rates increased from 25.3 percent to 28.1 percent.

The researchers note that many factors are contributing to colony losses. A clear culprit is the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies. Pesticides and malnutrition caused by changing land use patterns are also likely taking a toll, especially among commercial beekeepers.

A recent study, published online in the journal Apidologie on April 20, 2016, provided the first multi-year assessment of honey bee parasites and disease in both commercial and backyard beekeeping operations. Among other findings (summarized in a recent University of Maryland press release), that study found that the varroa mite is far more abundant than previous estimates indicate and is closely linked to several damaging viruses. Varroa is a particularly challenging problem among backyard beekeepers (defined as those who manage fewer than 50 colonies).

“Many backyard beekeepers don’t have any varroa control strategies in place. We think this results in colonies collapsing and spreading mites to neighboring colonies that are otherwise well-managed for mites,” said Nathalie Steinhauer, a graduate student in the UMD Department of Entomology who leads the data collection efforts for the annual survey. “We are seeing more evidence to suggest that good beekeepers who take the right steps to control mites are losing colonies in this way, through no fault of their own.”

This is the tenth year of the winter loss survey, and the sixth year to include summer and annual losses in addition to winter loss data. More than 5,700 beekeepers from 48 states responded to this year’s survey. All told, these beekeepers are responsible for about 15 percent of the nation’s estimated 2.66 million managed honey bee colonies.

The survey is part of a larger research effort to understand why honey bee colonies are in such poor health, and what can be done to manage the situation. Some crops, such as almonds, depend entirely on honey bees for pollination. Estimates of the total economic value of honey bee pollination services range between $10 billion and $15 billion annually.

“The high rate of loss over the entire year means that beekeepers are working overtime to constantly replace their losses,” said Jeffery Pettis, a senior entomologist at the USDA and a co-coordinator of the survey. “These losses cost the beekeeper time and money. More importantly, the industry needs these bees to meet the growing demand for pollination services. We urgently need solutions to slow the rate of both winter and summer colony losses.”


HSI Chicago seizes nearly 60 tons of honey illegally imported from China

CHICAGO — Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) have seized nearly 60 tons of illegally imported Chinese honey valued at more than $200,000 destined for U.S. consumers.

The three shipping container loads (195 barrels) of bulk honey smuggled into the United States were falsely declared as originating from Vietnam to evade anti-dumping duties applicable to Chinese-origin honey.

HSI Chicago was notified in March of the suspect honey by a domestic honey packer located in the Midwest after laboratory reports provided to the honey packer appeared fraudulently altered. HSI sent honey samples to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) laboratory in Savannah, Georgia, for analysis.  CBP determined that the honey had a greater than 99 percent probability match with Chinese-origin honey.

HSI seized the illicit honey April 28.  The domestic honey packer who proactively notified HSI of the suspect honey and the private laboratory whose reports were fraudulently altered are fully cooperating, and are not targets in this investigation.  The investigation continues to determine where in the supply chain the private laboratory reports were altered for the honey.

HSI has stepped up its efforts regarding commercial fraud investigations that focus on U.S. economic, and health and safety interests.  These anti-dumping criminal schemes create a divergent market that negatively affects legitimate businesses.

With the recent enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA), Congress recognized that industries and companies that circumvent U.S. law and regulation remain a risk to this nation’s economic security.  Among its provisions, TFTEA requires ICE and CBP to collaborate to enhance trade enforcement, with specific emphasis on honey illegally imported into the United States in violation of U.S. customs and trade laws.

In December 2001, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed anti-dumping duties after determining that Chinese-origin honey was being sold in the United States at less than fair-market value. The duties first imposed were as high as 221 percent of the declared value. Later these duties were assessed against the entered net weight, currently at $2.63 per net kilogram, in addition to a "honey assessment fee" of 1.5¢ per pound on all honey.

In 2008, federal authorities in Chicago began investigating allegations of organizations circumventing anti-dumping duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling, on the “supply side” of the honey industry. The second phase of the investigation involved the illegal buying, processing and trading of honey that illegally entered the U.S. on the “demand side” of the industry.  In these multi-year investigations, HSI Chicago and the Department of Justice together convicted nine individuals (not including 10 remaining foreign fugitives) in a series of global schemes which evaded nearly $260 million in anti-dumping duties on honey from China and which also involved honey containing antibiotics prohibited in food.

 


No junk-food diet: Even in cities, bees find flowers and avoid processed sugars

Date: May 18, 2016

Source: North Carolina State University

Summary: Bees in urban areas stick to a flower-nectar diet, steering clear of processed sugars found in soda and other junk food, new research indicates.

New research from North Carolina State University finds that bees in urban areas stick to a flower-nectar diet, steering clear of processed sugars found in soda and other junk food.

"Urban habitats are growing, as is urban beekeeping, and we wanted to see if bee diets in cities are different from those in rural areas," says Clint Penick, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State and lead author of a paper on the study. "For example, we wanted to know if there are even enough flowers in urban areas to support bee populations, or if bees are turning to human sugar sources, like old soda."

To find out, the researchers collected worker honey bees (Apis mellifera) from 39 colonies across rural and urban areas within 30 miles of Raleigh, North Carolina. Twenty-four of the colonies were managed by beekeepers; the remaining 15 colonies were feral.

The researchers then analyzed the carbon isotopes in the bee samples to determine what proportion of their diet came from processed sugars -- like table sugar and corn syrup -- as opposed to flower nectar.

Animals, including bees, incorporate the carbon from food into their bodies. One type of carbon, carbon-13, is associated with grasses such as corn and sugar cane. Researchers can tell how much processed sugar bees consume by measuring each bee's carbon-13 levels. The researchers took a similar approach in a previous study that evaluated the diet of ants in New York City.

Because beekeepers often supplement their bees' diet with sugar water, researchers anticipated that domesticated bees would show that a significant proportion of their diet came from processed sugar -- especially in urban areas, where the bees would have easy access to soda cans, garbage and other sources of processed sugar. The researchers also predicted that feral bees in rural areas would show virtually no processed sugar in their diet, but that feral bees in urban areas would show evidence of consuming processed sugars.

To their surprise, the researchers found that there was no evidence that urban bees consumed more processed sugar than their rural counterparts. However, domesticated bees did show evidence of consuming significantly more processed sugar than feral bees in both urban and rural environments, which is likely due to beekeepers supplementing their bees' diet with sugar.

"Basically, bees are relying on flowers in cities and are not turning to human foods to supplement their diet," Penick says. "This is good news for urban beekeepers. The honey in their hives is mostly coming from flower nectar and not old soda, which is what we originally guessed."

However, it's not clear if this would hold true for the biggest cities.

"Our findings are based on research in a mid-sized city," Penick says. "Even the most urban areas of Raleigh have more than 50 percent open green space. By comparison, the average site in New York City has only 10 percent green space. So more work needs to be done to evaluate bee diets in our largest cities."

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Cassie Cox
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PO Box 435
Mendon, UT 84325
office:281-900-9740
cassie@AHPAnet.com