What’s In Your Honey?

November 17, 2011 · 15 comments

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honey comb, apis, honey

In a discussion I had recently with a local Long Island bee keeper, he cautioned me by saying, “know your bee keeper.” This in regards to the fact that there are some local bee keepers selling their raw honey as local to Long Island when, in fact, it comes from upstate New York. This doesn’t really bother me, as it is still local as far as it’s effect on allergies go. There are a lot of other problems with honey that are far more pressing.

Genetically Modified Pollen Found in Honey

For instance, traces of GM pollen have been found in honey. Recently, the European Court of Justice in Brussels ruled that honey that contains traces of pollen from genetically modified crops needs special authorization before it can be sold in Europe.

At least Europeans are protected from this travesty.

Several Bavarian beekeepers demanded compensation from their government for honey and food supplements that contained traces of pollen from genetically modified maize.

The beekeepers had their hives close to fields where the Bavarian government was growing Monsanto’s MON 810 maize for research purposes. Clearly, there is no way to control which fields the bees pollinate.

US Does NOT Require GM Labeling

In contrast to the United States’ policy that does not require GM labeling, the EU has strict guidelines on authorizing and informing consumers about foods containing GMOs. This policy is a thorn in the side of producers of genetically modified seeds such as Monsanto, because when consumers are aware of the GM nature of the food they choose to avoid it.

Kelli Powers, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, emphasized that the company’s engineered corn seed has been approved as safe for human consumption.

Powers said,

…the safety of MON 810 is confirmed by multiple regulatory approvals, including those in the EU, and by up to 15 years of successful commercial use and consumption of MON810 corn products in the EU and around the world.

Successful commercial use and consumption of GM corn is possibly why autoimmune diseases, diabetes and other chronic diseases are on the rise in this country.

Environmental activists said the ruling will force the 17-country European Union to strengthen the rules even further at a time they worried the bloc was dropping its zero-tolerance policy toward GMOs.

Mute Schimpf, a food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said,

This is a victory for beekeepers, consumers and the movement for GMO-free agriculture in Europe…This ruling rewrites the rule book and gives legal backing to stronger measures to prevent contamination from the likes of Monsanto.

If only we could have this kind of regulation in our country. What we have instead, is a revolving door between FDA officials and Monsanto executives.

One hand feeding the other.

Bees Exposed to Pesticides and Herbicides

But beyond this issue of GM pollen in the honey is also the issue of all the pesticides and herbicides on conventional crops that are pollinated by honey bees.

Many feel that this is one of the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder that is destroying millions of honey bees and may become an agricultural nightmare. These toxic chemicals rub off on the bees as they gather nectar and are brought back to the hive where they weaken and sicken the bees. This problem is widespread and getting worse. But that is a topic for another post.

Honey – Not Honey at all

More recently there have been a lot of articles in the news lately revealing that much of the commercial honey in the USA is from China and contains high fructose corn syrup.They can actually test the DNA of the pollen in the honey to find out exactly where it originated from. These tests are extremely accurate and are used in forensics.

Dishonest honey distributors buy the cheap stuff from China where it may be contaminated with antibiotics and heavy metals or it may not even be honey at all…

…it may be high fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners.

The FDA is again doing it’s job of protecting us by not doing enough to prevent the widespread importation of this tainted product.

In the mean time I buy my raw honey from reputable local bee keepers. I recently found an organic farm in upstate New York that sells organic raw honey.

Where do you buy your honey? Or, better yet, do you have a beehive? Leave a comment and let me know!

Where to buy raw honey


GM Honey

Food Safety News

Photo Credit

This post is shared at: Fight Back Friday, Friday Food, Fresh Bites Friday, Sunday School, Monday mania, Homestead Barnshop, real Food 101, What’s In Your Honey?, Traditional Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Healthy 2Day, Sustainable Ways, These Chicks Cooked, Simple Lives Thursday

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 AmandaLP from NourishedYear November 18, 2011 at 8:18 am

I buy my honey at the farmers market. Andrews Local Honey had illegal beehives in NYC before it was leak to do so, and helped lobby the city to allow urban bee keeping. Now, if I am having allergies, I can buy honey from within miles of me. Usually, I go for the slit,y less expensive and further away honey, but after all of the stories about no pollen corn syrup honey from china in stores, I will never buy honey from someone that I cannot speak to directly,


2 Jill November 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Hi Amanda,
That’s very interesting that there are now hives in NYC. I would never have thought!


3 AmandaLP November 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I apologize for the typos! There was a story in the New York Times about how urban bee keepers find eit bees are not as health oriented as they are! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/nyregion/30bigcity.html (the honey was Red, as the bees were drinking the juice from a local maraschino cherry factory!)


4 Susan November 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I purchase gallons at a time from a beekeeper whose beekeeping class I attended last summer. He keeps hives on farms in North and South Texas. I would love to have a hive, but my yard is small and there is really not a good place for one as both neigbors have black dogs who are often outside. If I ever move, I have a list of must haves for the backyard and one is space for a beehive.

I saw Vanishing of the Bees last year and highly recommend watching it. The movie claims that large food companies are using the honey from China in their food. Another reason to stay away from processed/packaged foods.

The beekeeper whose class I attended cautioned urban beekeepers to have enough pollinating plants to keep the bees happy because bees will collect HFCS from soda cans left in nearby trash cans and take it back to the hive.


5 Jill November 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm

HI Susan,
Wow. I never would have thought bees would collect from soda cans… so much to think about. I would love to have hives that i could bring to organic farms so they could pollinate the organic crops. The honey coming from a lot of hives are pollinating conventional crops with pesticides and I would imagine that is going to be in the honey as well. In Upstate NY lots of bees are used to pollinate the conventional apple orchards. I wonder what’s in that honey as apples are the worst of the dirty dozen.


6 Rebecca November 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I keep bees in the backyards of people who want honeybees but aren’t ready to keep their own.  One thing you didn’t mention, and really I didn’t know until I started keeping bees, is that many small and most big beekeepers use chemicals in their hives.  The bees get treated with legal and some illegal off label use chemicals for varoa mites, small hive beatles, and with antibiotics (which is allowed even in some organic standards) and often they get fed sugar water or high fructose corn syrup to get through the winter when the beekeeper takes too much honey.  There is a movement among many of us for “treatment free” beekeeping.  We manage the hives but do not add any treatments.  In my area I know that some big beekeepers that use treatments don’t believe it is a big deal and so tend to downplay, not mention, or even say they don’t.  The best honey comes from your own hives or the hives of a friend you know well.  I keep hives in yards as small as 50×100 or a flat roof is an ideal spot.  Beekeepers are a sweet loving group, they have local associations everywhere and dropping in on a meeting would be a fun, informative evening.


7 Jill November 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Hi Rebecca,
Thanks for your comments. As I investigate what it will take to keep bees I am more drawn to it.


8 Beyond The Peel November 18, 2011 at 10:25 pm

I never realized it could be such a problem. It makes me ever so grateful for our source of honey. Our local bee maker takes his bees up to clear cut areas in the mountains far from any crops to make fireweed honey. I feel more fortunate now than ever.


9 Indio November 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

This was my first year keeping a hive in my 1/3 acre backyard. I plan on adding two more next year because I’m addicted to it and I haven’t even harvested any honey yet. Watching the bees do their pollen collecting, clean the hive and everything else bees do is absolutely fascinating to me. My veg garden was triple the production is was over the past two years partially due to my honey hive, but also the mason bee houses I added. For the pollinating alone, it was worth the effort.


10 Jill November 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Hi Indio,
I am so jealous! I am seriously thinking about learning about bee keeping and maybe getting a hive! I have about 1/3 acre as well and live in suburbia but am allowed up to 4 hives! If you can suggest any great books to read about this I would greatly appreciate it!


11 kimberly November 27, 2011 at 4:45 am

Wow, I’d never really considered where my honey was coming from. And definitely had no idea you could have a hive in the backyard. I think I might look into this a little more. Thank you for making me think a little more.


12 Mira Dessy November 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Living in Texas, near Houston, I am fortunate that there are several places where I can get local honey. And I am grateful because my largest grocery store, HEB, carries raw local honey.  


13 MomsSundayCafe November 29, 2011 at 1:04 am

Always something interesting to learn when I come to visit, thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.


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