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2995Re: [beemonitoring] What species of bees make honey?

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  • Dennis E Johnson
    Nov 2 10:38 AM
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      Thanks John,

      For making me do further research the Meliponini bees.  I knew that they made a honey substance, but I didn't know that their honey was collected and actually marketed.
      As we can see, the definition of "honey" gets into a large discussion as to how we define it and I brought up the definition by the National Honey Board for marketing "honey" in the US as being only from "the honey bee" (Apis).  To further this definition for US marketing, the USDA has standards for grading honey as A, B, C, or Substandard based mostly on moisture content;  "A" honey must be < 18.6% moisture content and anything >20.0% is considered "Substandard" (B & C grades are in between these levels). Note that there is normally no inspection, but adherence is voluntary.  With this definition, the Meliponini honey would be considered "Substandard" and when it gets above 25% moisture content is subject to fermentation and perhaps molds.   However, the bees are making and storing the "honey" for their purposes and have no concept of our theft and marketing standards.

      Clearly the marketing definitions are not the same as the scientific definitions and to me the scientific definition is accurate if you are not labeling and selling the product as "honey" in the US.  This is similar to the labeling as fruits vs vegetables in the US…….bureaucracy  vs science!

      I tasted "honey" from Bombus vagans this summer when I inadvertently tore apart a hive they built in a storage box in my backyard and to me it tasted like honey (be tough to collect enough to market though). 
      I will be interested in ordering some of the Meliponini honey when it again becomes available (apparently supplies from one firm that I looked at are out).

      Thanks to all of the responses to this question from that Julie started as all were informative and interesting.

      Denny Johnson

      On Oct 31, 2013, at 7:56 PM, John S Ascher wrote:

      Stingless honey bees (Meliponini) are also honey bees, and how is the National Honey Board qualified to comment on them when they don't occur in the USA?

      John S. Ascher, PhD
      Assistant Professor
      Department of Biological Sciences
      National University of Singapore
      14 Science Drive 4
      Singapore 117543
      (65) 6516 1683 (work)
      (65) 9739 4576 (mobile)

      Research Associate
      Division of Invertebrate Zoology
      American Museum of Natural History
      Central Park W @ 79th St.
      New York, NY 10024-5192

      From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] on behalf of Dennis E Johnson [Dermjohn@...]
      Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2013 3:59 PM
      To: Pollinator@...
      Cc: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] What species of bees make honey?


      To drag bureaucracy into this discussion, the National Honey Board has defined honey as: "the substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants are gathered, modified and stored in the honeycomb by honey bees ".  So in their eyes, only honey bees (genus Apis) can make honey.  I know that Bombus makes a nectar substance similar, but in very small volumes, as well as a few other species as listed.

      Denny Johnson
      On Oct 31, 2013, at 1:14 PM, <Pollinator@...> <Pollinator@...> wrote:



      Re the definition of honey:  Some very prized honeys are not made from floral nectar, but from the secretions (honeydew) of other insects. So a definition that indicates exclusive use of plant nectar as the source, would not be accurate.

      Dave Green
      Retired pollination contractor

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