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The Red Queen's Honey!

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  • husztek
    Someone said to me, Bill, I wouldn t toot my horn so loudly just yet. And, I m still not. But the chemistry of what a honey bee brings into its hive, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12 3:57 PM
      Someone said to me,

      I wouldn't toot my horn so loudly just yet."

      And, I'm still not.

      But the chemistry of what a honey bee brings into its hive, and that of sugar are widely at variance.
      The resultant product after the bee has processed it is not the same.

      Several years ago I wondered about this business of feeding any unnatural substance into the hive in the belief as one of my mentors is known to say, "they'll take care of it." struck me as rather cavalier.

      But, like a good wanna be beekeeper I didn't argue with my betters. The folks who are very willing to cite their record number of years in the beekeeping activity, and a host of man made credentials showing their priority of wisdom in the field.

      All I had was a sheet of printer paper on which someone's computer had generated a certificate showing I was a graduate BeeKeeper, it was even signed by the computer in the instructor's signature! Cool huh? But, it conferred upon me all the rites and wisdom and ability that that piece of paper could engender in someone of my decided lack of talent.

      Ah! I also had a couple of beehives too.

      One thing which bothers me is this.
      Feeding sugar, fructose and a plethora of other ingredients in a belief that it is good for them or it will even l save a failing hive.

      Because it's lousy science.
      One person somewhere fed a hive of bees sugar water and they survived summer and winter while another didn't and therefore feeding is the thing to do.

      Whether the hive fails or survives whoever is propounding the idea argues it is good for the bees.
      But there isn't one case.
      Not one.
      Where a hive of bees was deprived of all food but sugar water and pollen substitutes where it survived the rigors of climate.
      Not one.

      I can demonstrate and duplicate why a plane flies.
      But no one can demonstrate or duplicate last year's successes or failures in feeding bees.
      It is all, empirical.

      What I can prove is that giving bees sugar water will cause them to create, . . .for lack of a better term, sugar honey.
      The frames will be amazingly white, some even crusted with sugar.
      The fluid will be light in color and taste of sugar.
      No honest beekeeper would ever market such a product as, . . . honey.
      Many commercial beekeepers do. I can even point to some who use fructose.

      So, two years ago, I abandoned feeding, and medicating in favor of finding some other way to keep bees alive. Don't ask me until next spring when my latest phase of the experiment will end April 1, 2014.

      Meanwhile I wait and study.

      Today Kim Flottum dropped another article on my desk.
      This one about Red Honey!

      I've taken the liberty of reproducing it for you.

      Start with this pull quote, see if you are as interested as I was.

      ".  If the syrup is warmed, the sugar components can convert into hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF).  Recent studies have shown that HMF is toxic to bees above a certain concentration.  "
      (Holy what?)

      Here is the rest of Kim's report.


      Utah Honey has Beekeepers Seeing Red

      Cassi J. Lee, Bryan D. Merrill, William J. Burnett, Sandra H. Burnett

      Bright red honey has been found in beehives in Utah, U.S.A.  KSL News reported that “red honey” was found in Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, and Washington Counties.  No local flower sources are known to generate red honey.  To date, at least 20 large and small-scale beekeepers have reported red in their hives.  Some beekeepers in Utah county estimate that their individual losses may be as high as $50,000 due to their projected loss in honey sales and potential problems in their bees.

      For two months, local beekeepers have speculated about the source of so much red in hives.  Recently, a local commercial beekeeper revealed that their operation had been open-pit feeding their bees with crushed candy cane byproduct dissolved in water.  Periodically during the summer, open troughs or perhaps pits containing this food were used throughout the four affected counties near locations where red honey was reported.  Scientists at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah are working with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) to determine whether the red honey is safe for bee or human consumption.  Samples of the crushed candy cane byproduct have been provided and samples of red honey have been collected from various locations. Laboratory tests are being performed to confirm ingredients in the food source and identify the concentration of components in the red honey .


      The crushed candy cane byproduct fed to honey bees may have potential hazards to both humans and bees due to red 40 dye and inverted sugar ingredients.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows a small amount of lead to be present in red 40.  Lead levels in the red honey may still be below FDA limits, but lab test results will need to confirm this.  Inverted sugar is also a potential problem.  If the syrup is warmed, the sugar components can convert into hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF).  Recent studies have shown that HMF is toxic to bees above a certain concentration.  Lab results will reveal if HMF, lead, and red 40 are present in the red honey. By strict interpretation of honey purity laws the UDAF may conclude that the “red honey” may not be considered honey at all.  The UDAF’s decision will affect the extent of financial losses in the state.  ; Even if the red honey is found safe for human consumption, its taste and appearance may be unappealing to the public, which may prevent normal sales.


      This event in Utah is reminiscent of recent honey contaminations in Red Hook, New York near a maraschino cherry factory and in France near an M&M waste-processing factory.  Both cases showed that the bees were gathering the factory byproduct which changed the color and taste of what the bees produced.


                  The results of the lab tests on the Utah red honey will be published in the November issue of Bee Culture. The article will discuss the extent of bees’ exposure to harmful ingredients and explain any health implications. For now, the UDAF officially recommends that Utah beekeepers not mix “red honey” with normal honey.


      This event is an example of how one beekeeper’s decision can impact many beekeepers in an area.  As beekeepers, like a hive of bees, we are interdependent.  We should work together for the health and safety of our bees and bee products.


      Bill Husztek
      Black Squirrel Cottage Enterprises
      7558 Marshall Drive
      Annandale, VA 22003
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