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October 19, 2020

How a Chilean raspberry scam dodged food safety controls from China to Canada

Reuters•October 6, 2020

By Dave Sherwood

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - In January 2017, Chilean Customs inspectors acted on a tip from a whistleblower: The country’s prized crop of raspberries was under threat.

Inspectors raided the offices of Frutti di Bosco, a little-known fruit trading company on the second floor of a tower block in downtown Santiago.

The files, company data and sales records they seized revealed a food trading racket that spanned three continents.

At its heart was a fraud centered on raspberries. Low-cost frozen berries grown in China were shipped to a packing plant in central Chile. Hundreds of tons of fruit were repackaged and rebranded by Frutti di Bosco as premium Chilean-grown organics, then shipped to consumers in Canadian cities including Vancouver and Montreal, according to documents prepared by Chilean Customs as part of its investigation. The agency calculated that at least $12 million worth of mislabeled raspberries were sent to Canada between 2014 and 2016. 

Much of that product, the documents showed, came from Harbin Gaotai Food Co Ltd, a Chinese supplier. Canadian health authorities later linked berries from Harbin Gaotai to a 2017 norovirus outbreak in Quebec that sickened hundreds of people. Canadian authorities issued a recall on Harbin Gaotai berries coming directly to Canada from China dating back to July 2016. 

What they didn’t realize is that Harbin Gaotai raspberries had also entered Canada through a backdoor during that period in the form of falsely labeled fruit shipped from Chile by Frutti di Bosco.

The scheme, pieced together for the first time by Reuters, lays bare the ease with which mislabeled, potentially risky products can be slipped past the world's health and customs agencies, even as authorities across the globe scramble to ensure foods entering their countries are free of a new scourge - COVID-19. 

Harbin Gaotai did not reply to requests to comment for this report.

Frutti di Bosco’s owner, Cesar Ramirez, who was convicted last year in Chile for falsifying export documents to facilitate the scheme, declined to speak with Reuters. His attorney declined to comment. 

Reuters examined thousands of pages of legal filings, investigation documents and trade records obtained through freedom-of-information requests in Chile and Canada. Reuters also spoke to more than two dozen people with knowledge of the case, including the manager of a fruit-packing house that uncovered the deception. 

Pulling off the fraud was relatively simple, the investigation revealed.  

The Canada-Chile trade pact, which came into force in 1997, allows exporters to self-certify the provenance of their goods, trade experts said. The agreement allowed the mislabeled berries to enter Canada tariff-free, evading a 6% levy slapped on the same fruit imported directly from China, Chilean Customs documents show. 

More lucrative still, conventional fruit represented as “organic” could fetch premium prices, piggybacking on Chile’s reputation for safety and quality. Documents certifying the fruit as organic were faked, customs inspectors found.

(For a graphic on how the scam worked, see:



Chile’s export fruit industry, alerted by Customs to the whistleblower complaint in late 2016, immediately grasped the potential fallout for the $7 billion sector, according to correspondence obtained by Reuters under Chile’s Transparency Act. 

The southern hemisphere nation stocks grocers in the United States, Canada and Europe with grapes, cherries, blueberries and raspberries in the northern winter. If word got out that Chile’s fruit was not what it purported to be – or worse still, if someone got sick - it could tarnish its hard-won image.

"This situation could generate serious problems for the food industry in our country," Ronald Bown, head of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association, wrote in a Nov. 15, 2016 letter to Customs obtained by Reuters. He asked the agency to investigate the whistleblower’s allegations and warned of “the closing of markets” to Chilean fruit.

Bown confirmed writing the letter and repeated the same concerns when approached by Reuters on July 30.

Chile did not notify Canada that anything was amiss, however, according to Canadian officials.  An alert failed to materialize even after Ramirez, Frutti di Bosco’s owner, alleged he had colluded with the buyer of the fruit - Montreal-based Alasko Foods Inc - to ship the illicit products to Canada, according to Chilean investigation records.

Story Continued Here:

CATCH THE BUZZ- French Ban on Bee Killing Pesticide Upheld

Top EU Court Swats Challenge to Bee-Protection Rules in France
Molly Quell

Beekeepers and apiarists dressed up as bees demonstrate outside the Palace of Westminster in 2013 ahead of the European Commission vote on the proposal to ban bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

LUXEMBOURG (CN) — A French ban on bee-killing pesticides was upheld Thursday by the EU’s high court.

The European Court of Justice backed 2018 French legislation banning the use of neonicotinoids, which have been linked to colony collapse disorder, despite finding it more restrictive than existing EU regulations.

“After officially informing the commission of the need to take urgent action, a member state may

take interim protective measures,” the Luxembourg-based court wrote in a ruling only available in French.

In July 2018, the French government passed a regulation banning the use of the pesticides: acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. The use of those chemicals was already restricted by EU law under a 2013 regulation that was expanded in 2018. But the French regulations went further, banning their use outright while existing regulations allowed for their use under certain conditions.

The French Crop Protection Association, an agricultural lobbying group, filed suit at the Council of State, arguing that the French government hadn’t properly informed the EU it was planning to deviate from the EU rules.

Under rules in the 27-member political and economic union, countries must harmonize their laws to ensure common standards across the internal market. EU member states may derogate from EU law under certain circumstances, including in emergency situations.

The First Chamber of the Court of Justice sided with France’s government.

“The communication includes a clear presentation of the elements attesting, on the one hand, that these active substances are likely to constitute a serious risk for human or animal health or for the environment and, on the other hand, that this risk cannot be satisfactorily controlled without the urgent adoption of measures,” the five-judge panel wrote.

Representatives for the Crop Protection Association did not respond to a request for comment.

Scientific studies of neonicotinoids have found that they confuse bees, making them disoriented and unable to find food sources or even their way back to their hives. A study published earlier this year in the journal Science found that Europe had lost 17% of its bee population between 2000 and 2014.

This isn’t the first time the EU’s attempt to protect bees has ended up at the high court. In 2018 the court upheld the validity of the 2013 restrictions, finding the regulations justified to protect pollinators.

As the latest case returns to the French court for a final decision, France could be backtracking. French MPs voted last month to reintroduce the use of neonicotinoid insecticides to help combat damage being done to the country’s sugar beet industry by yellow disease. The infection, spread by aphids, has devastated this year’s crop.

“Honey Bee, It’s Me” – Gut Bacteria Is Key to Bee ID  

By Washington University in St. Louis
October 17, 2020

For a honey bee, few things are more important than recognizing your nestmates. Being able to tell a nestmate from an invader could mean the difference between a honey-stocked hive and a long, lean winter.

New research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that honey bees rely on chemical cues related to their shared gut microbial communities, instead of genetic relatedness, to identify members of their colony.

“Most people only pay attention to the genetics of the actual bee,” said Yehuda Ben-Shahar, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and corresponding author of the study published on October 14, 2020, in Science Advances. “What we show is that it is genetic, but it’s the genetics of the bacteria.”

Honey bees recognize and respond to chemical signals from other bees that they detect from skin compounds known as cuticular hydrocarbons, or CHCs. This study determined that a bee’s particular CHC profile is dependent on its microbiome — the bacteria that make up its gut microbial community — and is not something innate or genetic to the bee alone.

“Different colonies do in fact have colony-specific microbiomes, which has never been shown before,” said Cassondra L. Vernier, postdoctoral associate at the University of Illinois, who earned her biology PhD working with Ben-Shahar at Washington University.

“Bees are constantly sharing food with one another — and exchanging this microbiome just within their colony,” said Vernier, first author of the new study.

Co-authors include Gautam Dantas, professor of pathology and immunology and of molecular microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Joel Levine at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The work was conducted in part with bees housed at Tyson Research Center, the environmental field station for Washington University.

“The importance of this paper is that it’s one of the first papers that actually shows that the microbiome is involved in the basic social biology of honey bees — and not just affecting their health,” Vernier said. “The microbiome is involved in how the colony as a whole functions, and how they are able to maintain nest defenses, rather than just immune defense within an individual.”

Microbiome influences communication

The gut microbial community — or microbiome — supplies humans and other animals with vitamins, helps digest food, regulates inflammation and keeps disease-causing microbes in check. Increasingly a topic of research interest, scientists have discovered many ways that the microbiome blurs the borders between a host and its bacteria.

The microbiome has been found to influence communication in several different organisms — including, notably, large animals like hyenas.

For honey bees, this study shows that the microbiome plays a critical role in defining the tightly regulated chemical signals for group membership.

Until recently, most scientists thought that honey bees identified nestmates by picking up on a homogenized scent that they recognize from members of their own colony — “a kind of hive B.O.,” Ben-Shahar joked.

Bee colonies are usually composed of highly related individuals. But the chemical signals that allow bees to recognize each other are not determined by genetics alone. Researchers know this because baby bees can be placed into other colonies without being rejected — up until a certain age and level of development.

“It has to be something that they acquire during their lifetime that defines their nestmate recognition cues,” Vernier said.

Acquired from interactions with other bees

In previous work, Vernier and Ben-Shahar showed that bees develop different scent profiles as they age, and that gatekeeper bees respond differently to foragers returning to the hive compared with younger bees that have never ventured outside.

That research established a relationship between nestmate recognition and the clearly defined, age-dependent division of labor typical to honey bee hives.

Only when a bee is old enough to interact with others outside of the hive does it become recognizable to others. That was a clue for the researchers.

“If you grow a honey bee in isolation, it will never develop a complete microbiome,” Vernier said. “It actually has to acquire most of it from interactions with other bees.”

For this study, researchers determined that forager bees from different honey bee colonies have different gut microbial communities and CHC profiles by sequencing gut samples and analyzing cuticular extracts. The scientists also conducted cross-hive fostering experiments, raising groups of newly hatched bees in either their own colonies or unrelated colonies.

In the fostering experiments, the researchers found that both source- and host-colony related factors contribute to variations in the overall gut microbial community of individual bees. Of the 14 microbial taxa that significantly differed between treatments, six were similar between bees that shared the same hive environment while they grew up — regardless of actual genetic relatedness.

The researchers also found that they could manipulate the microbiome of sister bees by feeding different microbes to newly hatched bees. In addition to developing different gut microbial communities, the bees also grew to have different CHC profiles.

“They were unrecognizable to their siblings,” Vernier said. “Manipulating the microbiome was enough to cause sister bees to develop different scent profiles.”

The right stuff

This new work is significant in part because it shows an integral role for the microbiome in the essential, everyday social interactions of honey bees, the Earth’s most important pollinators, researchers said.

“For bees, some of the most complex aspects of their social behavior basically depends on bacteria — more than anything else!” Ben-Shahar said.

“It doesn’t matter how related they are,” he said. “Their ability to say ‘you belong to this group’ basically depends on getting the right bacteria at the right time. Otherwise, they are blind to it.”

And bee ID is key.

The biggest enemy to honey bees is other bees.

“During fall, when plants stop producing nectar, there is a period of time when robbing is very prevalent in colonies,” Vernier said. “Robbing bees will find other colonies, and if they’re able to get in and take some honey, they will go back to their own nests and signal, ‘Hey, go over there. There’s a nest that’s not good at guarding, and we can steal their honey.’

“Robber bees will take that honey and leave the other colony to starve,” she said. “It’s a very strong pressure.”

Robbing deprives both the host bees and their associated bacteria with important resources — which may have been the original drive to form this special bacteria-animal partnership, the researchers said.

Reference: “The gut microbiome defines social group membership in honey bee colonies” by Cassondra L. Vernier, Iris M. Chin, Boahemaa Adu-Oppong, Joshua J. Krupp, Joel Levine, Gautam Dantas and Yehuda Ben-Shahar, 14 October 2020, Science Advances.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd3431

"Powered By Honey": Rolls-Royce Unveils the Bumblebee 5000 From Its Young Designer Competition

Mark B.Oct 13, 2020 09:30 AM EDT

(Photo: Rolls-Royce Press Release Media Material)Bumblebee 5000, the winner in Rolls-Royce' Young Designer Competition.

British car manufacturer Rolls-Royce has revealed the winner for its Young Designer Competition - a bee-themed car powered by honey to be known as Bumblebee 5000.

The futuristic Bumblebee 5000 was submitted by Sofia, 11 years old, from the United Kingdom. It was a design competition that invited children around the world, providing them with a creative outlet by creating their own "Rolls-Royce of the future."

Rolls-Royce received more than 5,000 designs and blueprints for futuristic vehicles from children from more than 80 countries in the middle of the lockdown from the global coronavirus pandemic.

The design team from the luxury car manufacturers, based at Goodwood, West Sussex, UK, used the submitted drawing and created a 3D model using the same programs they use for actual cars.


A "Quite Extraordinary" Entry

In a press release from the car manufacturer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös expressed delight in announcing the results of the competition. He noted that the best entries in the contest "didn't just draw 'the nicest car': they created amazing experiences that showed the freedom of their imagination, not hindered by physical, real-world constraints." Müller-Ötvös added: "The winning entry is quite extraordinary."

The new Rolls-Royce Bumblebee 5000 is described by its creator as the "very best way to travel in and to have parties in with your family and friends."

"Moving smoothly, it will take you wherever you want to go with style and having fun," the description read. It boasts "comfortable tables and chairs," as well as having a party setup - complete with a disco ball, surround sound system, Wi-Fi, GPS. It is even driverless and equipped with a rear hook for luggage, with Sofia claiming it as "the best option in the automobile market." She adds that the futuristic car changes color depending on the occasion or season of the owner's choice.

She concludes her entry by boldly claiming: "You will never see something like it," a statement Rolls-Royce finds as having the "confidence and certainty" it relates to.

Rolls-Royce's Investment in Honey

Gavin Hartley, the head of Bespoke Design, explained that they were drawn to the winning entry because it was all about "sociability, having fun, sharing good times and enjoying the finer things in life," explaining that these things are what Rolls-Royce was about. He added that the design reflected the company's interest in the natural world, with Rolls-Royce keeping a colony of a quarter-million English honey bees based at Goodwood.

As the winner in the Young Designer Competition, Sofia will enjoy a car ride to school - in a Rolls-Royce, no less, and with its own driver. Additionally, the prestigious carmaker will be donating a complete Greenpower electric car kit to Sofia's school. This kit will allow the winner's school to participate in the upcoming Greenpower design-build-race challenge as well as its motorsport events.

After the instant success of the competition, Rolls-Royce had to extend its original schedule to accommodate other participants. Aside from UK's Sofia, there were other winners from four other categories: technology, environment, fantasy, and fun. For the technology category, 13-year-old Chenyang from China was hailed as the winner with his Bluebird II. Six-year-old Saya from Japan was the winner in the environment category with the Rolls-Royce Capsule. For the fantasy category, the sea-land-air Turtle Car by the sixteen-year-old Florian from France bagged the award.


Lastly, the Fantasy category award went to eleven-year-old Lena from Hungary with her Rolls-Royce Glow.


As AHPA continues to work on behalf of all beekeepers, one of our initiatives is advocating with the FDA in Washington D.C. to update honey labeling guidelines.  As part of this effort, we need your help to collect pictures of honey labels from around the United States.  Our goal is primarily to find honey that is mislabeled according to current FDA guidelines.  Secondarily, we need examples of any labels which misrepresent country of origin or are purposefully confusing to consumers so that we can advocate for positive changes and updates. 

Search the App Store or Google Play for "AHPA app”.  We need to collect as many pictures from honey on the store shelf as possible.  Please take a few minutes to help collect this data.

October 5, 2020

Will Putting Honey Bees on Public Lands Threaten Native Bees?


As suitable sites become scarce, commercial beekeepers are increasingly moving their hives to U.S. public lands. But scientists warn that the millions of introduced honey bees pose a risk to native species, outcompeting them for pollen and altering fragile plant communities.

By Jennifer Oldham • September 15, 2020

Honey bees heavy with pollen and nectar foraged from wildflowers on Utah’s Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest collide with tall grass and tumble to the ground. They are attempting to land alongside a hive, and I watch as they struggle to stand, fly into the box, and disgorge nectar to be made into honey.

The pollinators belong to a 96-hive apiary, trucked here to Logan Canyon for the summer to rest and rebuild their population, replenishing bees lost to disease and pesticides after months pollinating California’s almond groves. By Labor Day, the yard could house 5 million domesticated pollinators.

The honey bees are guests among about 300 native bee species in Uinta-Wasatch-Cache, including metallic green sweat bees and iridescent blue mason bees, that comb meadows rich with indigo delphinium, yellow daisies, and pumpkin-colored Indian paintbrush. Darren Cox, who owns the apiary, says the forest’s mountain snowberry shrubs make the best-tasting honey.

Cox, in a white nylon suit, elbow-length gloves and helmet covered with a veil, puffs smoke into a dove gray hive and pries out a frame coated with honey. He scrapes the viscous liquid into a paper cup.

“It’s a good flower year,” he says, handing me the honey, which he sells at airports and high-end department stores. He pulls off a glove, plunges a finger into the honeycomb and lifts it under his mask

and into his mouth. “That’s pretty good,” he says. “My mom named this honey snowberry — it’s our best seller.”

The cluster of honey bee colonies in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is among thousands of hives belonging to 112 apiaries currently permitted in national forests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The problem, scientists and environmentalists argue, is that these hives are being permitted on public lands with almost no environmental review and despite concern about the ecological impact that industrial-sized apiaries containing non-native, domesticated honey bees can have on local wild bee populations.

The 4,000 wild bee species in the United States have evolved over millions of years to pollinate plants endemic to biodiverse regions; studies show they consume up to 95 percent of local available pollen. The specialized foragers have already suffered steep declines in part due to climate change, pesticide use, disease, and habitat loss. Nearly 40 federally listed threatened or endangered species of bees, butterflies, and flower flies depend on national forest land for their survival. Now, in areas that were once refuges for these species and others, native bees increasingly face competition from millions of domesticated honey bees ferried to public lands between pollinating seasons. Demand for apiary permits on America’s public lands is growing exponentially as development and row crops devour private land migratory beekeepers once relied upon in the summer.

According to an analysis of thousands of documents obtained by conservation groups under the Freedom of Information Act, public land managers permitted 946 hives across five national forests in Utah and Arizona in 2020. With each hive containing up to 60,000 pollinators, such agreements collectively allow up to 56.8 million honey bees on the Colorado Plateau alone. Hives have also been approved in national forests in North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho, California, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, New York, and Vermont. The Bureau of Land Management has also approved permits for thousands of hives on its lands in Utah, Arizona, and Colorado.

“Honey bees are super-foraging machines and they are literally taking the pollen out of the mouths of other bees and other pollinators,” said Stephen Buchmann, a pollination ecologist specializing in bees and an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona. “They have huge extraction efficiency — with the waggle dance and how quickly they can mobilize — and they can very quickly take down the standing stock of pollen and nectar.”

About half of 72 studies addressing competition between managed bees and wild bees analyzed in a 2017 literature review found managed bees negatively impacted native pollinators by consuming limited floral resources. Of 41 studies that looked at the potential effects of managed bees on wild bees through changes in plant communities, 36 percent reported negative impacts and 36 percent positive results, with the remainder finding mixed or no impacts. None of the experiments were conducted with the number of hives currently being permitted on federal lands.

Continued Here:

DNA tool detects bee species fraud in premium honey

Phil Taylor

Sometimes, the price of premium honey is tied to the species of bee that produces it, as much as the plants from which nectar is collected and other factors like soil quality.

For example, honey from native, non-domesticated species, such as Asian Apis dorsata and Apis cerana is more valued – and commands a higher price – than honey from more conventional colonies of Apis mellifera.

Premium pricing however unfortunately inevitably creates a situation that fraudsters will exploit to try to make a fast profit, and it’s not uncommon for honey based on wild bee species to be

targeted by mislabelling, or mixing of lower-cost, lower-quality honey from other sources.

Now, researchers from the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia say they have used a DNA-based technique to detect adulteration of honey from an entomological perspective – in other words by distinguish between honey and other products like royal jelly made by different species.

They developed a method of looking at a specific part of a gene called ANT (adenine nucleotide translocase) in DNA extracted from small samples of honey that could be used as a marker for the three different species – A dorsata, A cerana and A mellifera – using exon-primed intron-crossing (EPIC) probes.

Collected nectar is regurgitated by honeybees when deposited in honeycomb cells, leaving traces of their DNA and genetic profile.

“While the honey market is dominated by honey produced by the western honeybee A mellifera, which is nowadays spread worldwide, honey produced by species native to Asia may reach distinctly higher market prices,” they write in the journal Food Control.

One example is Korean native honey produced by A cerana, which can cost five- to seven-times as much as A mellifera honey.

“Our method offers a new tool in detecting certain kinds of adulteration and enables traceability of samples,” say the authors.

They also note that the most recent standard methods in honeybee product verification “do not include developed DNA-based techniques, which implies that DNA-based methods for entomological origin determination are not yet routinely used.”

The researchers recommend using DNA techniques to create a global reference database, which could be used worldwide to detect honey fraud, which they say is the sixth most common food adulteration.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Similarities and dissimilarities between automatic learning in bees and humans


Central European University

News Release 28-Sep-2020

A new study in PNAS shows that bees share a capacity for automatic learning the complex statistical properties often experienced in natural environments. Previously this was thought to be a visual capacity only present in humans and higher-level species, and the discovery in bees with a miniature brain inspires further improvements in AI. The study also reports that bees and humans use fundamentally different computational methods for this kind of learning, which might be one of the key reasons why humans' superior learning abilities emerged.

The international team led by Dr Aurore Avargue?s-Weber (University of Toulouse, France), Dr József Fiser (Central European University, Hungary) and Dr Adrian Dyer (RMIT University, Australia) used for the first time an identical test to compare automatic learning in humans and bees. They exposed humans and honeybees to the same multi-element scenes composed of a set of abstract shapes in an unrelated easy categorization task (Fig 1). In the following test phase, both species had to perform a number of tests by choosing between two novel multi-element scenes in each trial. The scenes in these tests were composed to measure whether the participants became spontaneously sensitive to various statistical properties of the visual scenes that they saw during the exposure phase without any dedicated training.

Dr Avargue?s-Weber says " Learning automatically by analyzing the statistical properties of a large set of previously experienced images to identify their underlying structure is a strategy that has been demonstrated in humans and in a few higher-level species. It is also the concept behind "deep learning", which fueled the immerse recent progress in Artificial Intelligence. Our results show that this is also the strategy used by bees, which suggests the universality and efficiency of this kind of automatic statistical learning."

Dr Dyer adds "People have often been amazed at wonderful navigation and recognition capabilities of honeybees, and now we know that they achieve complex tasks using a simplified version of statistical learning that is the basis of human visual problem solving, and essentially the basis of deep learning for AI."

And Dr Fiser says "We were very surprised to see that, similar to humans, honeybees developed a complex internal representation of the statistics of their new visual experience, and they could use this information in subsequent tests. We were even more astonished to realize that bees and humans achieved this feat by different computational strategies. Bees never become automatically sensitive to the predictability of visual elements that is, to how much the appearance of one element predicted the appearance of another element. In contrast, humans use this information from early infancy. This is exiting because access to predictability among pieces of information has long been implicated as a key computational requirement for acquiring effectively any highly complex knowledge. Thus our study demonstrates both how far one can get with simple methods and tiny brains to solve difficult tasks, and at the same time, what is crucial for reaching the next level of learning abilities."

Bayer Announces Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award Winners and Newly Funded Healthy Hives 2020 Projects to Celebrate National Honey Month

Three teenage beekeepers promote pollinator health, serve their communities


ST. LOUIS (September 21, 2020) – To commemorate National Honey Month, Bayer today announced its 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award winners, recognizing three next generation leaders committed to supporting pollinator health. The winners are: Keith Griffith III of Louisville, Ky. (first place); Emma Stevens of Greenup, Ky. (second place); and Lydia Cox of Charleston, S.C. (third place). The first-place winner will receive $3,000 to put toward his beekeeping projects or college tuition, and the second- and third-place winners will also receive $2,000 and $1,000, respectively.


A panel of five industry experts chose the winners from a pool representing 14 states based on the applicants’ demonstrated commitment to promoting honey bee and pollinator health in their schools and communities, as well as their dedication to continued learning and service within the field. The judging panel for the 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award included:

  • Joan Gunter, president, American Beekeeping Federation

  • Aimee Hood, regulatory and scientific engagement lead, Crop Science, a division of Bayer

  • Brandon Hopkins, Ph.D., assistant research professor, apiary and laboratory manager, Washington State University

  • Grace Kunkel, communications coordinator, Project Apis m.

  • Jake Reisdorf, first-ever Young Beekeeper Award winner and 2019 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award recipient; CEO, Carmel Honey Company


“It’s incredibly important for the industry to recognize the hard work and dedication of our young beekeepers, and to encourage the next generation to get involved in STEM- and agriculture-related activities that help sustain our global food supply,” said Reisdorf. “I was proud to read about everything these next-gen leaders are doing to support bees and amazed at how many of them are getting out in their communities to educate others about the importance of pollinators.”


Each of the 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeepers impressed the judges with their creative and impactful projects to benefit pollinators and further community education, including:

  • Keith Griffith III, 13, of Louisville, Ky.

Keith has been working as a beekeeper with his uncle since he was 11. What started as a therapeutic outlet soon became more than just a hobby; it’s also enabled him to start a business, Beeing2gether, where he sells honey, branded merchandise and a book he published in 2019, “Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Mental Health Miracle.” Since writing his book, Keith has been featured on local Louisville television shows to raise awareness about the importance of honey bees and how beekeeping can provide an outlet for those suffering from mental illness. In the future, Keith hopes to expand his business and build a rooftop apiary where he can provide hands-on educational experiences for students and community members looking to learn more about beekeeping.


  • Emma Stevens, 16, of Greenup, Ky.

Emma is deeply committed to educating her community about the importance of pollinators. Through her high school agriculture department, she volunteers with local elementary school junior bee clubs to teach younger students about beekeeping. Emma serves as her high school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) vice president, where she provides educational information to local farmers and other community members on the impacts of honey bees. In the future, Emma hopes to start a bee club at her high school, conduct a three-day junior bee camp for students in second through sixth grades, and organize a STEM Day for her district’s four elementary schools, with local high school students leading hands-on science, technology, engineering and math activities.

  • Lydia Cox, 17, of Charleston, S.C.

A fourth-generation beekeeper, Lydia has been keeping bees since she was 7 years old and works with her family to sell honey as a way to raise money for college. Outside of the family business, Lydia volunteers with local community groups to help preserve environmental resources and teach younger children about pollinators and local ecosystems. She has since become an intern with the Charleston Parks Conservancy, where she’s piloted a citizen science program through the iNaturalist platform (helping to expand these projects to more than 25 city parks). Lydia is currently designing an urban pollinator garden near one of the conservancy’s community gardens at the conservancy, and will include pathways, seating, educational signage and pollinator-attractant plants for hummingbirds, butterflies and honey bees. 


Applicants were required to submit answers to two essay questions and provide a professional reference from a mentor involved in their project, such as a beekeeper or apiarist, community or agricultural organization leader, grower, teacher, school official or member of another relevant organization. As a testament to the quality of this year’s entries, the judges also selected three applicants as honorable mentions for their exceptional commitment to pollinator health: Andie Funk, 16, of Jacksonville, N.C.; Jessie Cline, 18, of Cleveland, N.C.; and Rebekah Hope Watts, 15, of Rankin, Ill.


Also in recognition of National Honey Month, Bayer and Project Apis m. released an updated version of their Healthy Hives 2020 (HH2020) e-booklet, “Research for Tangible Bee Health Solutions.” The booklet, which provides an overview of the program and progress to date on projects funded since HH2020’s inception in 2015, also features two newly funded research projects:

  • Helping Bees Come in from the Cold: Development of a Practical Guide to Indoor Storage for Bees – Brandon Hopkins, Ph.D., Washington State University

  • Size Matters – Bigger Mites Mean Bigger Problems for Bees: Exploring Possible Mechanisms of Chemical Tolerance of Varroa Mites in U.S. Honey Bee Colonies – Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park; Steven C. Cook, Ph.D., USDA-ARS, Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland; Krisztina Christmon, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park


“Since our partnership began with Project Apis 2015, the Healthy Hives 2020 initiative has continued to focus on delivering measurable, impactful solutions for beekeepers,” said Daniel Schmehl, pollinator specialist with the Crop Science division of Bayer. “Over the past five years, Bayer has given $1.3 million towards this initiative, and I look forward to seeing how these research projects directly benefit the beekeeping community and honey bee health well beyond 2020.”


Healthy Hives 2020 and the Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award are initiatives of the Bayer Bee Care Program, which continues the company's 30-year history of supporting pollinator health. For more information on Bayer bee and pollinator health initiatives, please visit: You can also follow and share with us on Twitter and Instagram @Bayer4CropsUS.


Bayer is committed to bringing new technology and solutions for agriculture and non-agricultural uses. For questions concerning the availability and use of products, contact a local Bayer representative, or visit Crop Science, a division of Bayer, online at


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Eataly NYC’s new honey-themed rooftop restaurant is the bee’s knees


Posted On Fri, October 2, 2020 By Devin Gannon

Eataly’s seasonal restaurant in the Flatiron District has undergone a transformation once again. Last week, Serra d’Autunno by Birreria debuted at the 14th-floor rooftop with a new concept dedicated to honey, with “buzzworthy” specialty menu items and cocktails. The restaurant has also partnered with New York-based The Honeybee Conservancy to donate 10 percent of net proceeds from every “honey-focused” dish to the group’s Sponsor-a-Hive program.

Decked out with bee-hive inspired decor, the Honey + Harvest concept includes a menu with items from local tri-state farms and Italian producers. The honey–sourced both locally and from Italy– is used in dishes like the antipasti, which ahs roasted honey nut squash, handmade Stracciatella cheese, hazelnuts, and honeysuckle honey, a selection of cheeses paired with honey, and a Mieli Thun Forest Honey glazed pork shank with stewed root vegetables from the Greenmarket.

Perfect for fall, the restaurant is offering a selection of build-your-own “Bee’s Teas” cocktails. Guests can select a tea, honey, and a spirit to mix as the perfect warm-up beverage. Honey beers and mead cocktails, made by fermenting honey, are also available. Throughout the month of October, the restaurant will host a series of wine dinner events centered around Chianti Classico wines, with local sommeliers pouring their favorites.

State, city, and CDC protocols will be followed, with hand sanitizing stations set up, tables spaced out with dividers, and frequently sanitized tables and utensils. Guests should wear face coverings before and after eating.

The rooftop is open Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Reservations can be made via OpenTable.


As AHPA continues to work on behalf of all beekeepers, one of our initiatives is advocating with the FDA in Washington D.C. to update honey labeling guidelines.  As part of this effort, we need your help to collect pictures of honey labels from around the United States.  Our goal is primarily to find honey that is mislabeled according to current FDA guidelines.  Secondarily, we need examples of any labels which misrepresent country of origin or are purposefully confusing to consumers so that we can advocate for positive changes and updates. 

Search the App Store or Google Play for "AHPA app”.  We need to collect as many pictures from honey on the store shelf as possible.  Please take a few minutes to help collect this data.

American Honey
Producers Association

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Cassie Cox
Executive Secretary
PO Box 435
Mendon, UT 84325