Know Your Beekeeper _”First Fake Manuka Honey Producer Prosecuted”

The benefits of unprocessed Truly Local Honey far out weigh the use of Manuka Honey.  The Marketing of this honey is highly overrated.

21 March 2019

in an unprecedented case, Auckland-based health company, Evergreen Life Ltd has been prosecuted by New Zealand Food Safety for adding to its products sold as “Manuka Honey” synthetic chemicals, including an ingredient which is not designed for food but commonly found in tanning lotion to give skin an orangey-brown colour.

Evergreen Life was ordered to recall 18 Manuka honey products in 2016, following reports by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that it had used unapproved artificial methylglyoxal (MGO) and dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in their processing and production. The two chemicals occur naturally in Manuka honey; DHA originates from the flowers of Manuka bushes and converts within the honey into MGO, the chemical that possesses the highly sought after and prized antibacterial properties.

manuka honey fake or real image

Manuka honey producers use the DHA and MGO levels to grade and price their honey, along with the Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF. The more the DHA, the higher MGO, so manufacturers can add artificial DHA to increase the strength of weak Manuka honey and sell it for a higher price. A jar of Manuka honey can be sold for up to NZ$500. Synthetic DHA is also able to alter the colour and taste of an ordinary honey to make it perform like manuka honey. Tests are available to differentiate between artificial and naturally occurring DHA and MGO, but they are exorbitant and hence not routinely conducted.

In a Manuka gold rush, the total value of New Zealand’s honey exports shot to NZ$348m in 2018. And reports have suggested that up to half of honey sold worldwide as Manuka honey is fake. In 2017, the Ministry for Primary Industries introduced a scientific definition to test the authenticity of Manuka honey before it is allowed for export, boosting the confidence of consumers in purchasing genuine Manuka honey.

According to the Evergreen Life’s website, its Manuka honey is sold internationally to countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. The company now faces a total of 71 charges for tampering and adulterating honey by including synthetic MGO and DHA in its honey. It is expected to contest the allegations. The most severe of the charges carries maximum penalties of five years’ imprisonment or a NZ$500,000 (£265,000) fine.

News Source: The Guardian

Other Related Pages

1. Why does Manuka honey command such an exorbitant price? Find out in: The Miraculous Manuka Honey.

3. Confused by the activity ratings of Manuka UMF, Active, Total Activity, MGO, and NPA? Read: Manuka UMF and Other Activity Terms Explained

2. What is the real deal about UMF Manuka honey? UMF Manuka Honey And Its Big Price Tag

The Winter Solstice



Historical Honeybee Articles – Beekeeping History

The Winter Solstice has been observed as an important date in beekeeping for over 2000 years.
Join us at: Historical Honeybee Articles – Beekeeping History
Read more to find out what the ancients have to say about winter and bees.Aristotle says in Historia Animālium (History of Animals) Book IX
circa. 4 B.C.

“In healthy swarms the progeny of the bees only cease from reproduction for about forty days after the winter solstice.”


Pliny the Elder says in Naturalis Historia (Natural History)
circa. 77 – 79 AD

“From the winter solstice to the rising of Arcturus the bees are buried in sleep for sixty days, and live without any nourishment. Between the rising of Arcturus and the vernal equinox, they awake in the warmer climates, but even then they still keep within the hives, and have recourse to the provisions kept in reserve for this period.”

As we look out into the morning light this December Day, you can feel the “girls” sensing that it is time to rise to the occasion and begin to prepare for the 2019 season.  “The girls did well this past year and have produced two variations of Wildflower Honey – ARDEN HILLS GOLD & SOLSTICE – recognized by the GOOD FOOD AWARDS 2019 as nationally  ranked finalists…”go girls”


We need to thank and frequent those Eateries  and Local Markets that support true FARM_TO_FORK food providers  as ToBee Young Apiaries.

PRESS RELEASE The Good Food Awards 2019 San Francisco

Finalist 2019 Seal

The Good Food Foundation is proud to announce To Bee Young Apiaries is one of 15 double finalists for 2019 in the Honey Category. We are located in the “urban forage zone of Sacramento ’ and are providers of “Truly” local honey found at at Elliot’s Natural Foods, Corti Bros., Taylor’s Mkt, Plant Foundry, & The Olive Mix. These fine eateries also use ARDEN HILLS GOLD & Solstice Wildflower Honey in their food preparations – La Bonne Soupe Café, Backbone Cafe, Matteos Pizza & Bistro, Thai Basil, Elite Bakery, and The Rind.

The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsible. The 401 products and finalists rose to the top in a blind tasting of 2,035 entries by 262 bakers, makers, farmers, Beekeepers and chefs; then passed a rigorous vetting. Now in its eighth year, awards will be given to winners in 16 categories: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, elixirs, fish, HONEY, oils, pantry, pickles, preserves, snacks and spirits. The Good Food Awards Seal assures consumers they have found something exceptionally delicious that also supports sustainability and social good. The Winners will be announced on Friday, January 11, 2019, at the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center.

The Good Food Awards is organized by the Good Food Foundation, formerly known as Seedling Projects, in collaboration with a broad community of food crafters, grocers, chefs, food writers, activists and passionate food-lovers. The Good Food Foundation is also the organizing force behind the Good Food Guild,  Good Food Mercantile and Good Food Merchants Collaborative




Bedtime Golden Milk

In ancient folklore, honey bees were believed to be bringers of wisdom and good luck. In addition, because they work all day long, they are associated with hard work and diligence. No matter how mythical these beliefs are, there’s no doubt the hard work of honey bees brings us honey, and pollinates one-third of our food supply. Thank the honey bee this week for guiding you through finals week. Good luck, students!
Read: ‘Legends and Lore of Bees’
A Sweet Recipe: Honey Golden Milk
Scientists suggest that consuming foods with high amounts of tryptophan can help you sleep and relax your nerves. It is believed that honey contains tryptophan. Good rest and sleep are essential for memory and higher functionality. Have a warm drink before bedtime with this Honey Golden Milk Recipe.

1 cup milk
2 teaspoons honey, plus additional to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons almond butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Optional additions: tiny pinch ground black pepper, ground cardamom, or ground cloves

Combine the milk, honey, almond butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and any optional spices in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until warmed through, whisking briskly so that the almond butter does not stick to the bottom and the spices incorporate. Remove from heat before boil.
Original Recipe: Bedtime Golden Milk

Sowing Strips of Flowering Plants Has Limited Effect on Pollination

Published by ABJ Extra-April 9, 2018

“To determine the impacts of flower strips on pollination, scientists placed pots of strawberry plants or field beans in fields with or without strips of flowering pollinator plants. At flower strip sites (left circle), one group of pots were placed adjacent to the flower strip and one group of pots in a field border at the same study site; at control sites without flower strips (right circle), one group of pots were placed in a field border. Pollination was compared across the sites.
Strips of wildflowers dotting fields is visually attractive and provides much needed forage to bees. But does it actually increase pollination of nearby agricultural crops? Turns out that it depends on the scale and diversity of the farm. Researchers at the Centre for Environmental and Climate Research at Lund University have studied how pollination varies in different agricultural landscapes, by placing pots with either wild strawberry or field bean in field borders. Plants that were placed in a small-scale agricultural landscape, with pastures and other unploughed environments, were better pollinated than plants in landscapes dominated by arable land.

The researchers also investigated how sown flower strips, i.e. flower plantings which farmers often create to benefit pollinators, affected pollination in the different landscape types. In landscapes dominated by arable fields, pollination increased adjacent to the flower strip. A few hundred meters further away, however, the sown flower strips had no effect on the pollination of wild strawberry and field bean. In more small-scale agricultural landscape, the sown flower strips instead reduced pollination of adjacent plants, likely because the increased amount of flowers resulted in competition among flowers for pollinating insects.

“In our study, pollination was highest in small-scale agricultural landscape, with pastures, meadows and other unploughed habitats. Wild bees are important pollinators and manage better in a landscape with a lot of field borders and other unexploited environments. In intensively farmed landscapes, where such environments have disappeared, we can increase pollination, at least in the immediate vicinity, by sowing flowering plants to attract pollinating insects”, says Lina Herbertsson, one of the researchers behind the study.

Farmers can receive financial support to implement measures that promote biodiversity, some of which may also benefit pollinating insects. An evaluation is currently underway of the EU’s common agricultural policy, CAP, which among other things regulates the support for greening measures, aimed at reducing the climate impact of European agriculture and promoting biodiversity in the agricultural landscape.

“Our study underlines the importance of carefully designing measures intended to increase biodiversity, in order to achieve the desired effect. The same measure could have different impact in different places. If we want to increase pollination in varied agricultural landscapes, it seems to be a better strategy to restore and maintain pastures and meadows, and to manage field borders in a way that favours the local flora, rather than adding sown strips of flowering plants”, concludes Lina Herbertsson.

It might be hard for bees to find randomly placed pots of strawberries or field beans. Would the results be different if it was a large row of flowering crops? We know that bees need increased forage. Other studies have shown that providing habitat and forage that blooms throughout the season increases pollinator abundance and diversity. If that pollination is provided by native bees with short foraging distances, it makes sense to put in the pollinator habitat in close proximity to the crops you want pollinated.
Read the paper:”
ABJ Extra-April 9, 2018

Agricultural Fungicide Attracts Honey Bees, Study finds Fungicides among top contaminants of honey bee hives .


Fungicides are among the top contaminants of honey bee hives and can interfere with the bees’ ability to metabolize other pesticides.
Credit: L. Brian Stauffer


When given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.

The puzzling finding comes on the heels of other studies linking fungicides to declines in honey bee and wild bee populations. One recent study, for example, found parallels between the use of chlorothalonil and the presence of Nosema bombi, a fungal parasite, in bumble bees. Greater chlorothalonil use also was linked to range contractions in four declining bumble bee species.

Other research has shown that European honey bees have a very limited repertoire of detoxifying enzymes and that exposure to one potentially toxic compound – including fungicides – can interfere with their ability to metabolize others.

“People assume that fungicides affect only fungi,” said University of Illinois entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum, who led the new research with postdoctoral researcher Ling-Hsiu Liao. “But fungi are much more closely related to animals than they are to plants. And toxins that disrupt physiological processes in fungi can also potentially affect them in animals, including insects.”

Some scientists have argued that bees may be less susceptible to agricultural chemicals than laboratory studies suggest because the bees might detect potentially toxic chemicals in the environment and avoid them. But a 2015 study found that European honey bees and at least one species of bumble bee actually prefer food laced with neonicotinoid pesticides.

To test whether foraging honey bees showed a preference for other chemicals they are likely to encounter in the wild, Liao set up two feeding stations in a large enclosure. Foraging honey bees could fly freely from one feeder to the other, choosing to collect either sugar syrup laced with a test chemical or sugar syrup mixed with a solvent as the control. Over the course of the study, she tested honey bee responses to nine naturally occurring chemicals, three fungicides and two herbicides at various concentrations.

The trials revealed that honey bees prefer the naturally occurring chemical quercetin over controls at all concentrations tested.

Entomology professor May Berenbaum, left, and postdoctoral researcher Ling-Hsiu Liao found that honey bees have a slight preference for food laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil at certain concentrations. Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

“That makes sense, because everything the honey bees eat has quercetin in it,” Berenbaum said. “There’s quercetin in nectar, there’s quercetin in pollen. Quercetin is in honey and beebread, and it’s a reliable cue that bees use to recognize food.”

To the researchers’ surprise, the bees also preferred sugar syrup laced with glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide – at 10 parts per billion, but not at higher concentrations. And while the bees actively avoided syrup containing the fungicide prochloraz, they showed a mild preference for sugar syrup laced with chlorothalonil at 0.5 and 50 parts per billion, but not at 500 ppb.

“The bees are not only not avoiding this fungicide, they’re consuming more of it at certain concentrations,” Berenbaum said.
Fungicides are among the most prevalent contaminants of honey bee hives, and it is likely the bees themselves are bringing these pesticides into the colony through their food-collecting activities. While perplexing, bees’ preferences for some potentially toxic chemicals may be the result of their distinct evolutionary history, Berenbaum said.

“Honey bee foragers are gleaners,” she said. “They’re active from early spring until late fall, and no single floral source exists for them for that whole season. If they don’t have a drive to search out something new, that’s going to seriously compromise their ability to find the succession of flowers they need. Unnatural chemicals might be a signal for a new food.”

The new findings are worrisome in light of research showing that exposure to fungicides interferes with honey bees’ ability to metabolize the acaricides used by beekeepers to kill the parasitic varroa mites that infest their hives, the researchers said.

“The dose determines the poison,” Berenbaum said. “If your ability to metabolize poisons is compromised, then a therapeutic dose can become a toxic dose. And that seems to be what happens when honey bees encounter multiple pesticides.”

More information: Ling-Hsiu Liao et al, Behavioral responses of honey bees (Apis mellifera) to natural and synthetic xenobiotics in food, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-15066-5

Forage for one is anothers poison …

Tallow Under Threat:
Southern States May Lose
Major Nectar Source
Courtesy of Louisiana Beekeepers Association
To Whom It May Concern,

On behalf of the Louisiana Beekeepers Association, all beekeepers and pollinator supporters statewide and nationally, we strongly urge you to oppose any action to introduce the non-native flea beetle, Bikasha collaris, as a biological control for the Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera). The introduction of this beetle and control of Chinese tallow would result in the loss of a major forage source for honey bees and other pollinator species. This would directly affect these important pollinators, exacerbate the already disastrous Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and lead to very serious economic impacts for beekeepers and farmers on a national scale.

The current and future status of honey bees and other pollinating insects has received increasing scientific and public concern in the last decade. Honey bees and beekeeping are now considered an essential part of our overall agricultural efforts, not just for the economic contribution of honey sales, but for their key pollination contributions to one-third of the food that Americans consume ( According to economic research from the Cornell University, pollinators contribute 29 billion dollars to the agriculture sector. “More specifically, honeybees pollinated $12.4 billion worth of directly dependent crops and $6.8 billion worth of indirectly dependent crops in 2010.” (

The Chinese tallow is now found in 12 states as noted in the BCIP Project Proposal (exhibit A). It provides a major (honey) market value in at least four of these states. Tallow can be found in all 64 parishes in Louisiana and also in 55 counties of Texas. Honey sales in Louisiana contribute over eight million dollars to the state agriculture sector (NASS). In 2016, Texas produced eight million pounds of honey, with a wholesale value of $11.5 million, seven million pounds of which are attributed in part to the Chinese tallow nectar flow. Nationally, honey sales contribute roughly 336 million dollars to the value of US agriculture commodities in 2016 ( Even though this is a significant contribution to our economy, the US still remains the top national importer of foreign honey at 423 million dollars ( The obvious conclusion is that beekeepers and honey producers in the United States need public support to preserve existing pollinator forage and nectar sources, particularly those so valuable as Chinese tallow. Hence the Pollinator Protection Act instituted federally in 2014.

There are over 4 million pounds of honey produced annually in Louisiana (NASS). Commercial beekeepers move thousands of colonies to Louisiana for the main purpose of capitalizing on the abundant forage here and particularly the nectar of the tallow tree. The Chinese tallow is a major nectar contributor to the amount of honey produced in Louisiana. In an article published in the American Bee Journal, Hayes (1979) states “(The Chinese tallow tree)… has become the most successful tree nectar source ever introduced into the United States.” Tallow trees have been around since the founding of the United States. “[Ben Franklin] sent tallow seeds to a farmer friend in Georgia in 1772 to be grown as a cash crop.” ( 2011/08/did-ben-franklin-bring-invasive-tallow-tree-to-texas/) Tallow trees have truly turned into a cash crop for beekeepers.

Steve Bernard, local commercial beekeeper and owner of Bernard Apiaries Inc., claims that loss of the tallow trees would result in a 1.25 million dollar annual loss for his business. A decrease in tallow population or even worse, the complete eradication of the tallow tree by the flea beetle would greatly damage the commercial beekeeping industry statewide and nationally.

Reiterating, hundreds of thousands of hives are moved through the gulf coast areas during the tallow season. These hives are used specifically in the migratory pollination process and depend on tallow trees for pollen and spring build up. The hives later go to other areas in the country for further honey production and pollination services. This is of greater economic value than the honey produced from tallow trees.

Colony Collapse Disorder has been linked to a number of problems, but notably from the disappearance of critical pollinator habitat. Federal government dollars are being set aside to fund the repopulation of areas for pollinators and to provide protection for existing habitat. In Louisiana and other southern states, the Chinese tallow provides a significant source of nectar as well as pollen. To control or reduce the population of this targeted species, as suggested in the BCIP Project Proposal, would be counter to the Presidential memorandum…“to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.” Under “Sec. 3. Increasing and Improving Pollinator Habitat (e) The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior shall… develop best management practices for executive departments and agencies to enhance pollinator habitat on Federal lands.” There are many acres of Federal land that would be directly at risk in Louisiana should this beetle be introduced and not contained and/or non-target plants be affected (exhibit B). As in all biological control agents, there are no guaranteed ways to contain them.

This concern leads to others, such as the success record for introducing related biological species with or without appropriate trials and very careful research protocols. In the case of the purple loosestrife in Massachusetts a biological control was successfully introduced in eliminating this plant, but at the same time the honey crop was eliminated, as well as forage for all pollinators. A more aggressive invasive species, phragmites, replaced the loosestrife, and now, there is no known control of this plant. Another similar story of unsuccessful biological control is the case of the Asian Lady Beetle which continues to be problematic today. Many other failed biological controls can also be cited. Release of the Bikasha collaris into less than very carefully controlled settings could lead to disastrous consequences. The opportunity for the beetle to adapt and reproduce ina new environment is virtually unknown. In Biological Control: Measures of Success (editor G.Gurr, Steve Wratten), the authors report “only around 10 per cent of attempts are successful”and that the success rate has changed little for a century. They also note that “biological control can cause harm, for instance when the released agent attacks a non-target organism of conservation or economic value.”

We certainly recognize the research and claims that invasive Chinese tallow is leading to an economic loss of $300 million over a twenty year period in certain timber and forest regions of this state and others. Some of these industry researchers also believe that introducing the flea beetle could conceivably decrease the amount of chemicals used in that industry and other agricultural sectors to control the encroachment of the tallow tree on cleared land. Yet these industries have alternative methods of control whereas the beekeeping industry does not have an alternative forage source comparable to the Chinese tallow. As of today, the states that would be most affected by the proposed flea beetle gross an annual $76 million in value of production (USDA, 2016), much of which is attributed to the presence of the Chinese tallow. This particular honey is produced in such volumes that it merits its own classification. Tallow honey sales are differentiated from other honey crops harvested and can bring up to $1.60/lb (USDA Honey Report, November 2017) and in some areas of Louisiana over $2/lb. Tallow honey is also used to make unpalatable honeys “table grade” by blending it with other honey to improve flavor. There are other beneficial uses of the Chinese tallow. Studies have shown that the tallow can be a lucrative source for biofuel. The trees are also considered ornamental plants to some locals.

Nectar and pollen from the Chinese tallow are of substantial economic value to commercial beekeepers and the beekeeping industry. Protection of this pollinator habitat needs to be secured. For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to oppose the introduction of the non-native flea beetle for the control of the Chinese tallow tree. Further research and experimentation with such a potentially dangerous biological control species should be restricted, or at the very least, very closely scrutinized and carefully monitored, so as to not lead to irreversible damage to existing Chinese tallow and cause great harm to pollinator populations, the entire beekeeping industry and ultimately the entire agriculture sector.


Randy Fair
Louisiana Beekeepers Association
Chair, Honey Commodity Committee
Louisiana Farm Bureau
Sideliner Beekeeper, Class A
Clear Lake Apiaries … + Associations
Commercial Migratory Beekeeper, Class A
Sunshine Honey Bees

Steve Bernard

Humor in the BeeYard

The bees took it hard this winter, although the rain is always welcome, too much can cause excessive moisture in the hive.  It made it hard for our “California Girls” to keep the mold from forming on the pollen stores.  Plus the ground became so saturated that an errant tree fell over and crush five hives.  The  remaining hives seem to be above average, as Garrison Keillor would say, and hopefully produce a fine crop of honey.  A recent run of the Crankshaft Comic strip has made the whole new year tolerable.