If you are a member and have anything that you feel is important to chemical free beekeeping, please email it to me. I will post it in this section in a future issue. Thank you. Dennis 

Honey Bee Trivia

scientific name:  Apis mellifera
castes in colony:  3(queen, worker & drone)
eggs laid in a day: 1,500-2,000
size of eggs:   1/16 inch(1.6mm)
egg to adult queen:  16 days
egg to adult worker:  21 days
egg to adult drone:  24 days
drone cell size:  4 per lineal inch of comb
worker cell size: 5 per lineal inch of comb
size of adult worker:1/2 inch(1.2cm)
size of adult queen: 3/4 inch1.5 times a worker
temperature of hive:  93-95° Fahrenheit
(brood rearing)
temperature of winter cluster:  85° Fahrenheit
bees per colony:  45,000-70,000
bees per pound:  4,000-6,000
lifespan of queen:  up to about 5 years
lifespan of drone:  3 monthsor until mated
lifespan of worker (summer): 45 days
lifespan of worker (winter): 4-6 months
flight speed:  12 mph
wing beats (normal):  250 cycles/second
wing beat (buzzing)s:400-500 cycles/second
visits to fill honey stomach:  1,000 flowers
visits to make 1 lb. of honey:  2,000,000 flowers
weight of 1 gallon of honey:  12 lbs.
1 cell of honey represents:  life's work of 60 bees
nectar required for 1 lb. of honey:  10 lbs.
distance flown for 1 lb. of honey:  about 55,000 miles
honey required make 1 lb. of beeswax:  10 lbs. of honey
pollen gathered per hive per year:   66 lbs.
water vapor produced from consuming 10 lb honey:  1 gal

 

Survey Reports Latest Honey Bee Losses

___________________________________________

ARS News Service

Agricultural Research Service, USDA

Kim Kaplan, (301) 504-1637, kim.kaplan@ars.usda.gov

May 19, 2009

--View this report online, plus photos and related stories, at www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr

___________________________________________

WASHINGTON--Honey bee colony losses nationwide were approximately 29 percent from all causes

from September 2008 to April 2009, according to a survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of

America(AIA) and the U.S.Department of Agriculture.

This is less than the overall losses of about 36 percent from 2007 to 2008, and about 32 percent from

2006 to 2007, that have been reported in similar surveys.

"While the drop in losses is encouraging, losses of this magnitude are economically unsustainable for

commercial beekeeping," said Jeff Pettis, research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research

agency. The survey was conducted by Pettis; Dennis vanEngelsdorp, president of AIA; and Jerry

Hayes, AIA past president.

About 26 percent of apiaries surveyed reported that some of their colonies died of colony collapse

disorder (CCD), down from 36 percent of apiaries in 2007-2008. CCD is characterized by the sudden,

complete absence of honey bees in a colony. The cause of CCD is still unknown.

As this was an interview-based survey, it is not possible to differentiate between verifiable cases of

CCD and colonies lost as the result of other causes that share the "absence of dead bees" as a

symptom.

However, among beekeepers that reported any colonies collapsing without the presence of dead bees,

each lost an average of 32 percent of their colonies in 2008-2009, while apiaries that did not lose any

bees with symptoms of CCD each lost an average of 26 percent of their colonies.

To strengthen the beekeeping industry, ARS recently began a five-year areawide research program to

improve honey bee health, survivorship and pollination. Honey bee pollination is critical to agriculture,

adding more than $15 billion to the value of American crops each year.

The survey checked on about 20 percent of the country's 2.3 million colonies.

A complete analysis of the survey data will be published later this year. An abstract of the data is

available on line at: http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/pdfs/PrelimLosses2009.pdf .

Famous Einstein Bee Quote Is Bogus

Nonetheless, the loss of bees has serious consequences for plants, wildlife and -- yes -- human survival

 

Einstein was a smart guy, maybe the smartest guy ever. So when he said that the disappearance of bees would lead, within four years, to the disappearance of humans, people took notice.

"If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live."

Problem is, the famed physicist never said it.

With colony collapse disorder leading to unexplained and sometimes dramatic declines in commercial bee colonies in 35 states, that didn’t stop the frequent recycling of the quote, which was first written down about 40 years after his death in 1955.

“You can’t always go by an absence of proof is proof of absence kind of thing. But with someone who is as well documented as Einstein, who lived in the 21st century, everything he said is pretty well documented and collated,” said David Mikkelson, who runs the urban myth-debunking Web site Snopes.com with his wife.

Like many a quote, Mikkelson said, this one appears to have been attributed to Einstein to lend it an air of authority. As it happens, there’s a grain of truth to the apocryphal quote, and the apocalyptic overtones aren’t far off the mark.

A National Academy of Sciences report last fall documented a crisis among North American pollinators – especially honey bees and native bumblebees. European studies – which benefited from better scientific data about population trends – have documented similar declines in pollinators there.

Of about 240,000 flowering plants in North America, three quarters require the pollination of a bee, bird, bat or other animal or insect in order to bear fruit. Since many of our food crops – with the exception of grains – are imports, the imported honey bee is key to our food supply. Beyond that, no other pollinator can be collected, moved and unleashed to pollinate fields of crops like commercial beekeepers can do with honey bee colonies.

So losing bees would have repercussions throughout the food supply chain.

“They are so integrated into so many different markets that I imagine there would be all kinds of collapses,” said May Berenbaum, who was chair of the NAS committee that developed the pollinator report.

“To illustrate how pervasive the honey bee is, consider a Big Mac,” she said. “All beef patties, the pickles, onions, lettuce, the cheese, the sesame seeds on the bun – that’s a lot.”

If honey bees in North Americadisappeared, she said, the price of food would immediately go up, as we would have to rely on more and more imported foods. Poor families would find it hard to eat a nutritious diet.

If all honey bees disappeared worldwide, food would be scarce, as colonies of bees stopped pollinating fruit, nut and vegetable crops. (“Except for grains,” Berenbaum said. “There would be plenty of bread.”) Honey would disappear from the market, and the surprisingly varied users of wax would be forced to turn to more expensive alternatives. The ripples through the world economy would be profound and prolonged.

If all 7,000-plus species of bees disappeared from the Earth, those ripples would grow into tsunamis ruffling entire ecosystems. In some ecosystems, bees are “keystone” species – a reference to an arch’s top stone, without which both sides collapse. As the plants that rely on bees died off, species that relied on those plants would suffer, leading to the decline or death of species that rely on them, and so on.

So with pollinators in decline in general, and honey bees doing a disappearing act that could well be unprecedented in magnitude, there is reason for worry.

“That’s the rude awakening on this one,” Berenbaum said. “What may have once been a localized phenomenon could well be a global phenomenon.”

No one's dire statements have quite the authority of Einstein's, but Berenbaum is optimistic that the current wave of public concern about bees could inspire the research and action needed to preserve an important, if underappreciated, player in the world's food web.

 

Here's an interesting article that was published in the Seattle Post about claims being made about honey being organic.  We always tell folks that ask if our honey is organic are that we find it hard to certify honey as bees fly a 2 mile radius from their hives and that we'd have to own miles of land to back up this claim.

Here's the article:

If it's made in America, it's likely not organic

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Last updated January 2, 20099:56 a.m. PT

By ANDREW SCHNEIDER
P-I SENIOR CORRESPONDENT

When it comes to sizing up the purity of the honey you buy, you're pretty much on your own.

You may be paying more for honey labeled "certified organic" or feel reassured by the "USDA Grade A" seal, but the truth is, there are few federal standards for honey, no government certification and no consequences for making false claims.

For American-made honey, the "organic" boast, experts say, is highly suspect. Beekeepers may be doing their part, but honeybees have a foraging range of several miles, exposing them to pesticides, fertilizers and pollutants on their way back to the hive.

And while they're required to put the country of origin on the label -- a fact that could help guide wary consumers -- some honey producers don't bother.

The head of one major honey company advises caution and warns that in the United States, there's confusion over label terminology and inconsistent enforcement of labeling laws.

"There is honey out there that is illegally and purposely mislabeled, an adulterated product that is very difficult to stop," said Dwight Stoller, chief executive of Kansas-based Golden Heritage Foods. "There's probably not a lot, but it's still a real issue, and consumers must be aware of that."

Unless shoppers buy honey from a farmers market, where they can talk with the person who raised the bees and bottled the honey, they're relying on what's printed on the label.

Major supermarkets offer dozens of different brands, sizes, types and flavors of honey for sale. Consumers might walk away with the finest-tasting, highest-quality honey there is. Or they could end up with an unlabeled blend, adulterated with impossible-to-detect cheap sweeteners or illegal antibiotics.

Part of this is because of the government's failure to define what true honey is, but the blame also goes to a handful of sleazy honey packers who buy and sell cut-rate foreign honey, which usually has little problem slipping past overstretched customs inspectors.

The Seattle P-I surveyed 60 honey products commonly sold in the Pacific Northwest and found glowing praises of healthfulness, sincere promises of quality and an endless selection of advertising adjectives touting honey as the true elixir.

"100% Pure." "U.S. Grade A Pure." "U.S. Grade 1." "America's Best Honey." "U.S. Choice." "Natural and Pure."

The list goes on and on, but it's mostly hype, experts say.

"If somebody puts 'U.S. Grade A' on there, who's going to say it isn't?" said Harriet Behar, outreach coordinator with the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service. "There's no enforcement, so people can say whatever they want."

The government takes a minor role in the grading of honey. It's left entirely up to the industry.

Stoller was the only one willing to discuss it openly. His company, with beekeeping roots going back 90 years, is one of the nation's largest suppliers of honey to retail outlets, the food-processing industry and food service and restaurant-supply companies.

The government, he said, doesn't have the resources to set and enforce needed standards. And that leads to inaccurate or misleading labeling.

"Some packers just slap on whatever they feel like," he said. "Whatever they believe will attract the shopper to their product."

'Meaningless' claims

Where things really get sticky is the selling of "organic" honey -- sold in some form by every major chain.

Government, academic and industry experts insist that U.S. organic honey is a myth. With rare exceptions, this country is too developed and uses too many agricultural and industrial chemicals to allow for the production of organic honey.

"Like other foods from free-roaming, wild creatures, it is difficult -- and in some places impossible -- to assure that honey bees have not come in contact with prohibited substances, like pesticides," said Chuck Benbrook, chief scientist for the Organic Center, a national advocacy group for the research and promotion of organic food.

Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture research, he said, shows that the average hive contains traces of five or more pesticide residues.

Arthur Harvey of the International Association of Organic Inspectors, who doubles as a Maine beekeeper, said two factors must be considered when attempting to produce organic honey: what the beekeeper puts into the hive, such as chemicals or medication of any kind; and the location of the hive.

Can the bee fly to a place that can be a source of potential contamination?

Harvey shares the concerns of many that there are no real USDA standards for organic honey.

"What USDA has said is that you can certify any product as organic as long as you comply with existing regulation, but there are no regulations for honey," he said. "That means the green USDA organic sticker on honey is meaningless."

Across the globe, there are 30 different, wide-ranging certification standards for organic honey, but there's no way for inspectors to detect fraud, according to Harvey. The USDA, he said, has never levied a fine for a violation of organic rules -- for honey or any other product.

The Naturally Preferred honey brand, widely distributed by the Kroger supermarket chain, has a USDA seal on the front label. On the back, it boasts, "Certified Organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture."

Not so, say state officials.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture doesn't certify honey "because we have no standards for organic honey," said agency spokesman Mike Louisell.

"It shouldn't have WSDA on its label," he said, "because we don't do it."

Jerry Hayes, chief of the apiary section for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said there are no organic standards for honey in the United States because honeybees forage in a 2 to 2 1/2-mile radius of their colonies.

"They're flying dust mops and will pick up unbelievable amounts of environmental contaminants," Hayes said.

Unlike most states, Florida has 15 full-time inspectors, a lab and other resources dedicated to ensuring honey quality, and the state is poised to do what the federal government hasn't -- pass a law defining what honey is.

Consumers stand to benefit, said Dr. Marion Aller, who heads Florida's food safety division.

"This will make enforcement of food safety easier," he said.

Aller said the honey industry supports the move because it's increasingly concerned that products touted as "pure" actually may be cut with other sugars or syrups.

Washington has no apiculture inspectors, largely because there isn't the budget for it.

Claudia Coles, food safety manager for the Agriculture Department, said her staff inspects Washington's honey producers for sanitary practices only, as it does with 1,700 other licensed food processors statewide.

"But the quality analysis of honey -- determining what's really in the bottle -- isn't something we have funding for," she said. "We struggle first with issues of E. coli, pathogens that make people sick with acute illnesses."

Some U.S. producers say they're confident offering certain foreign organic honeys to the public.

Mike Ingalls, president of Pure Foods Inc. in Sultan, recently stood beside a stack of brown steel drums in his warehouse. It's all marked "Organic Honey" and "Product of Argentina" -- and each drum carries a sticker with a tracking number.

"I can use that number to track the honey back to the supplier in Argentina and the specific beehives in latitude and longitude and degrees, minutes and seconds," he said, "so I can plot precisely where those hives were, and that they were at least six miles away from any cultivated crop."

While Canada also produces some authentic organic honey, Ingalls said that product is currently in short supply so he's had to turn to South American imports.

As for the domestic variety, he added: "We don't produce any organic honey in the United States."

Ultra-filtered honey

The industry hopes Florida's proposed honey standard is adopted by other states and the USDA.

If so, it may provide law enforcement the tools it needs to stop the flood of adulterated honey products.

Honey brokers and scientists say that not only is Chinese honey being laundered in other countries to avoid stiff U.S. tariffs and inspections, but also it's being sold as "malt sweetener," "blended syrup" and "rice syrup."

Florida's inspectors say some honey exported from China and India is put through an ultra-filtration process that is meant to remove contaminants. Honey is heavily diluted with water, then repeatedly boiled and filtered until it returns to a more natural consistency. Those who have tested and tasted the filtered brew said the process can completely remove all traces of contaminants, "including the color."

But there's a downside.

"In the process of taking out the chemicals, they also take out all the good qualities of the honey. What the consumer is left with is a very low-quality, sweet product -- but certainly not honey," said Mark Brady, president of the American Honey Producers Association.

"If it is cheap and packers can use it to blend into other dark, cheap honey to make it lighter in color and taste a tad better, the ignorant general consumer is none the wiser. Caveat emptor," he warned.

A warning consumers should be getting, but often don't, is a disclosure of where their honey came from.

Federal law requires that the country of origin be printed on food labels, but many companies offer no clue.

Non disclosing companies range from small producers, such as Haggen Honey, distributed from Bellingham, and Anna's Honey, distributed by Seattle Gourmet Foods, to national distributors such as Target and Wal-Mart.

A Target spokeswoman wouldn't disclose where the discount retailer's honey came from. But she said the Market Pantry Grade A honey "meets all USDA and FDA inspection standards."

Linda Brown Blakley, a Wal-Mart senior spokeswoman, said it's her "understanding" that "if the honey is produced domestically, country of origin need not be included on the label."

However, USDA says honey is considered a "perishable agricultural commodity" and country of origin is required.

The label on Heins Organic Trail Honey, packaged by Pure Foods, errs on the side of over disclosure, listing five countries of origin: U.S., Canada, China, Argentina and Australia. Ingalls, however, said that, too, isn't exactly right: He no longer imports from China and is just using up old labels.

'Tread carefully'

Besides its certified organic claims, Kroger's Naturally Preferred honey also carries the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

That puzzles honey experts such as Behar.

"I don't know how Good Housekeeping can do this. They don't know anything about honey standards," she said.

Good Housekeeping -- a magazine owned by The Hearst Corp., the P-I's parent company -- confirmed that, in 2005, Naturally Preferred honey qualified for the seal, a status that expired last month.

A magazine spokesperson said food products considered for the seal of approval are evaluated for nutritional value based on "federal, standard guidelines."

The USDA, however, said it doesn't have such standards for honey.

Consumer advocates warn shoppers not to put too much stock in seals of approval -- or even claims that the supermarket product with "honey" in the name actually contains any.

Pringles' Honey Buttered Wheat Stix, for example, doesn't list honey among its 30-plus ingredients.

A company representative said the snack is made in Thailand and contains artificial honey flavoring, not real honey. "We call it 'honey butter' because that's what it tastes like," she said.

Honey Graham Crackers do contain honey -- it's on the ingredient list after sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

Ditto for Nabisco's Honey Maid Grahams and 16 other brands of "honey" crackers, snacks and cereals the P-I inspected.

Paul van Westendorp, the provincial apiculturist for British Columbia's Ministry of Agriculture, said that in Canada, there are renewed calls to tighten up the regulations of honey labeling.

"The erosion of the label 'honey' has been going on for decades and beekeepers have often been frustrated by the big food processors such as General Mills, Kellogg's and many others for using honey in their product-line advertising while the product contains little or no honey," he said.

"Is the consumer getting cheated? That depends entirely on what the label says. The difference, of course, is that this type of product is typically sold to the ... uninformed consumer."

That practice is commonplace, said Diane Dunaway, who has studied honey marketing and is editor of Bee-scene magazine, produced for Canadian beekeepers in British Columbia and elsewhere.

"It's come down to consumers taking the time to read the ingredients list on the product label versus the marketing text," she said.

"The folks who make Pringles aren't the first to exploit the health-inspiring word 'honey' for profit. Companies like these and other food processors are relying on the dumbing down of consumer awareness," Dunaway said.

As warm and cuddly as the honeybee is to Madison Avenue, she warned food processors to tread carefully.

"Hell hath no fury like a soccer mom scorned!"

 

APHIS Aussie Bee Ban Officially AnnouncedFEDERAL IMPORT ORDER 

Prohibit Importation of Adult Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) from AustraliaDecember 21, 2010 

The purpose of this Federal Order is to prevent the entry or introduction of harmful honey bee diseases and/or parasites from Australia into the United States including the territories. The   Administrator of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has determined that it is necessary to prohibit the entry of adult honey bees Apis mellifera from Australia due to concernswith exotic honey bee pathogens or parasites associated with exotic bee species, particularly Apiscerana, an invasive species that has not been reported in the United States. 

This Federal Order is issued pursuant to the authority provided by the Honey Bee Act (7 USC Chapter 11) which authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to prohibit or restrict the importation or entry of honey bees into or through the United States in order to prevent the introduction and

spread of diseases and parasites harmful to honey bees or the introduction and spread of undesirable species or subspecies of honey bees within the United States. This Federal Order is likewise issued pursuant to the regulations found at 7 CFR Part 322. 

This Federal Order, effective December 21, 2010, removes Australia from the list of approved regions for the importation of adult honey bees. This action is necessary because the Administrator has determined that the introduction and establishment of exotic bee diseases and/or parasites that may be associated with Australian bee species including Apis cerana pose a serious threat to the United States agriculture including almonds, apples, blueberries, and other crops grown in the United States. This action is necessary and warranted to prevent the introduction and establishment of exotic bee diseases and parasites associated with exotic bee species including Apis cerana. 

Following the May 2007 discovery of colonies of the Asian honey bee, Apis cerana, near Cairns, Queensland in Australia, concerns were raised that exotic honey bee pathogens or parasites may have been introduced into Australia with the arrival of this foreign bee. An evaluation of pest risks associated with imported honey bees from Australia raised questions regarding viruses that are either not present in the United States or are rare and their introduction in commercial consignments of bees from Australia. Viruses once thought to be inconsequential are now being reevaluated in light of transmission by Varroa mite, interactions with Nosema ceranae, and further complications from Colony Collapse Disorder. We are concerned that these viruses and other diseases may be introduced into the United States in consignments of bees from Australia. 

Approximately one half of the honey bees in the United States are present in California for almond pollination and are moved around the nation at the conclusion of almond pollination. If a pest or disease that is not widespread is brought in with these imported bees, it could rapidly spread throughout the United States.