Tag Archives: Honey

More than just Honey: The challenges of Indian Agriculture

7 Mar

Flipping through the Indian Express a couple of days ago, I came across an article titled ‘More than just Honey‘, concerning honey bees in Punjab. The headline immediately reminded me of the movie ‘More than Honey.’ A little bit of history to understand the context of this article. The Punjab university was the first to introduce the Apis mellifera species to India in the 70’s. The article focused on the fact that honey bees provide a host of livelihoods options, apart from the obvious economic benefit from honey production. The article stressed that by breeding queens, harvesting royal jelly, recolting propolis it will bring an easy livelihoods to the farmers but could has as well a negative effect.

My concern is with India’s agriculture already heavily industrialized soon we will be in the same situation than the US where honey bees are being over stressed. By not working in symbiosis anymore with the bees, by adding already made bee wax sheet, by over selecting the best queens, and pumping the bees with antibiotics  we are ensuring that the breed is weakening and more vulnerable. If the government continues on, soon the Apis mellifera of India will disappear and will be affected by Colony Collapse Disorder. This aggressive industrialization of Apis mellifera will eventually force the beekeeper to revert back to the practice of working with Apis cerana. Asian bees are more adapted to this climate and require minimal management.

People seems to have forgotten that the main role of honey bees is the pollination of crops which link to food supply. Without them, the farmers will have an inferior yield, a lower market as well as less nutritional value as it has been proven that due to the presence of honey bees yields increase from 30 to 200%. We at ApiAnon see at as an integral function of our little friends, more so than the mass production of honey. We wish to create awareness on this situation and highlight the plight of our little friends.

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Your guide to Honey hunting

29 Jul

So, which honey should you buy?

The processed, super-market brand that we’ve all become used to is certainly not fit to be our first-choice honey. So  what is fit for our consumption?

water

You  could begin by checking your honey at home. Did you make a good choice? Take a glass of water and pour some honey in it. Pure honey will form a lump at the bottom and wouldn’t mix with water.If it disintegrates and mixes with the water right away, you can be certain that it’s not pure. You should buy raw honey, this honey hasn’t been filtered, heated or processed. Pure raw honey will never be perfectly clear and generally has particles of pollen in the bottom of the jar.

Honey comes from different flowers often presenting an array of diversely coloured nectar. Don’t be afraid to buy honey which is not crystal golden brown. The colours can vary from white when crystallised to dark amber. Unfortunately there is no specific legislation for the labeling of raw honey. First make sure the label says “raw” and not “pasteurised”. I do not recommend buying raw honey which has been pasteurised. Also don’t buy blended raw honey.

3881377113_bb3dfabb19Your best bet for high-quality honey is your local bee farm. The people there would be of great help and will be more than happy to answer all your doubts. Not everyone has access to a local honey farm, so your second best choice is a health food store but I am guessing you’ll have to part with a few more pennies. Raw honey can be bought online, but be careful, try to call the seller and have a bit more information on where the product is from and how it’s been processed.

It’s sad that nowadays it’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy real honey. Once you’re equipped with your research, finding the best bottle in your area becomes all the more easier. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have regarding your local honey in our comments section.

[Photo credit by sk8geek]

[Photo credit by jessicareeder]

Antibiotics ensure that Honey is no longer the nectar of Gods

3 Apr

Collective memory seems to have conveniently omitted the primary functions of honeybees, which is to pollinate and not to produce honey. It is good to remind ourselves that almost a third of global farm output depends on animal pollination, and a large portion of this on honeybees.

Antibiotic in honey

raw honeyGiven the weakness of Apis mellifera’s immune system, industrial agribusinesses need to constantly replenish the antibiotic stocks to keep business going and bees healthy. This simply means that our honey is also increasingly full of antibiotics. According to a study conducted by CSE, most honey brands being sold in India contain varying amounts of antibiotics. Antibiotics are widely used by commercial beekeepers since the introduction of the Apis mellifera specie to India by Punjab Agriculture University.

In China, illegal antibiotics and heavy metal have been found in the honey.

Fake Honey

winny the pooh  3/4 of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News. Most generic brands of honey are usually ultra-filtrated.  This process removes all impurities such as pollen and wax.   Pollen, removed by the ultra-filtration process, is the only way to determine  the source of the honey.  So when the pollen is removed, it can be from anywhere.  Some countries, especially China, have been known to smuggle honey into the United States.   About 80% of the honey available in the Chinese market is fake and manufactured from cane sugar.

That honey you’ve been buying in the Winnie the Pooh jars, NOT real honey either.

High fructose Corn

nectar of gods

Nowadays bees are fed with artificial nectar such as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) to produce honey faster. Perhaps the problem is the fact that honey is no longer considered a medicinal product. What was dubbed the ‘Nectar of the Gods’ by the ancient Greeks and Romans is fast becoming an any-time sweetener in our day and age. During winter, because its cheaper, beekeepers, like processed food manufacturers, have moved away from supporting the bees and the baby bees (grubs) with high fructose corn syrup  instead of honey.

So, which honey should you buy?

“Raw honey is thought to have many medicinal properties,” says Kathy Egan, dietitian at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.  “Stomach ailments, anemia and allergies are just a few of the conditions that may be improved by consumption of unprocessed honey”.  The processed, super-market brand that we’ve all become used to is certainly not fit to be our first-choice honey. In our next installment I’ll give you a breakdown of the different types of honey and how to choose the right honey for you and your family.

[Photo credit by emilyyanne.]

[Photo credit by Joelk75]

[Photo credit by nsisson]