Category Archives: What’s the Buzz?

Honeybee news, entertainment, notices and new products for beekeepers

Agriculture Canada Funds Project to Help Beekeepers


The Government of Canada is investing more than $244,000 in the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association with the aim of helping the beekeeping industry find new ways to respond to a decline in honey bee colony populations, Agriculture Canada announced 29 June 2011.  Funding for this project is being provided by the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, CAAP is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC).

The project aims to help beekeepers secure sustainable honey harvests and provide essential pollination services to the fruit and vegetable industry.

Approximately 7,000 beekeepers in Canada operate a total of 600,000 colonies of honeybees, according to the Honey Council’s statistics on the Canadian apiculture industry, with approximately 475,000 colonies in the prairie provinces that produce 80% of Canada’s honey crop. Funding of this new project reflects Agriculture Canada’s recognition of the ecological and economic impacst of declining bee populations “due to disease, pest resistance to treatment methods, and increased demand on honey bee colonies to provide pollination services.”   The estimated value of honey bees to crop pollination in Canada is over $2 billion.

honey bee pollinates apple blossom“The partnership formed between the AAC, and Ontario Beekeepers Association will ensure beekeepers are able to manage genetics, pests and nutrition according to their business objectives,” said Les Eccles, OBA Tech Transfer Program Lead Specialist. “Providing management strategies specific to the beekeepers goals will give more sustainable and consistent results.”

Led by the universities of Guelph and Manitoba, the program will develop a breeding program that will result in honey bees that have the ability to resist pests and diseases. It will also screen new products for pest and disease control and develop best management practices relating to pollination colonies.  Ultimately, the project will provide beekeepers — not only in Ontario, but, through knowledge transfer, all across Canada — with the ability to have better control of colony genetics and health in order to have consistent honey production and pollination services.

Photo:  Bee with Apple Blossom by Flickr user sociotard

Honey Fights Bacteria in Wounds, Scientists Say

Some 2000 years before the discovery of the existence of bacteria, honey was used to treat infected wounds. With the advent of modern medicine, such “folk remedies” as honey for wound treatment have gone out of favour, but in recent years honey has started to get more attention. Now, another study lends further credence to the ancient practice of using honey to treat infected wounds and gained a lot of attention in mainstream media.

“A team led by Professor Rose Cooper, from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC), found that manuka honey prevents the attachment of bacteria to tissues – an essential step in the infection process,” reports The Daily Mail (UK) online.

But this certainly isn’t the first study to suggest honey may be used to fight infections.

“There are now many published reports describing the effectiveness of honey in rapidly clearing infection from wounds, with no adverse effects to slow the healing process,” reported Dr. P.C. Molan of the University of Waikato, New Zealand, in Honey as a topical antibacterial agent for treatment of infected wounds (2001).

Dr. Molan notes, “there is also some evidence to suggest that honey may actively promote healing. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to have an antimicrobial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi.” Key points in his paper:

  1. Honey is a traditional topical treatment for infected wounds. It can be effective on antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
  2. Honey is produced from many different floral sources and its antibacterial activity varies with origin and processing. Honey selected for clinical use should be evaluated on the basis of antibacterial activity levels determined by laboratory testing.
  3. The antibacterial properties of honey include the release of low levels of hydrogen peroxide. Some honeys have an additional phytochemical antibacterial component.
  4. Many authors support the use of honey in infected wounds and some suggest its prophylactic use on the wounds of patients susceptible to MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Indeed, with the rise of antibiotic-resistant “super bugs” in recent years, the public and professional interest in natural antimicrobials – and specifically in the medical use of honey – has grown, and continues to grow.

The most thorough, yet easy for the non-medical layman to read, summary of the current status of medical use of honey that we’ve found so far appears in the Nursing Times’ Can honey fight superbugs like MRSA?:

The laboratory research behind these claims is of particular interest as it also highlights the growing concern about the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, which was last week highlighted by a new report from the World Health Organization. However, the effectiveness of honey in combination with antibiotics has yet to be tested in clinical trials and further research is still needed to assess whether it could be used to treat drug-resistant infections.

It is important to note that the honey used in the trials was filtered, medical-grade honey with all impurities removed. People should not try using honey bought from supermarkets to treat wounds at home.

For more information, see also:

NB Agriculture Website is Updated, Better for Beekeepers

The New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries has launched a major update to its website. Beyond a clean new look, the revised website makes it easier to find information published by the department, including forms and regulations. For beekeepers, there is a separate page all about bees, which serves as a “one-stop shop” for beekeeping information.

So far, in addition to information about alfalfa leafcutter bees and the native bumblebees that pollinate blueberries, and sidebar links to NBDAAF programs, agricultural research, events and maps, the Bees page on the government website contains:

  • a link to the beekeeper registration form that all New Brunswick beekeepers are required by law to complete each year;
  • information on evaluating, managing and protecting honeybee hives; and
  • under the Integrated Pest Management heading , information on the control of varroa mites.

Visitors can enter the main NBDAAF website at http://www.gnb.ca/0027/index-e.asp, the Agriculture division at http://www.gnb.ca/0027/Agr/index-e.asp, or the dedicated section on bees at http://www.gnb.ca/0027/Agr/0013/index-e.asp.

PEI Honey Product Wins Prestigious Prize

Central Beekeepers Alliance sends its hearty congratulations to Island Abbey Foods Ltd. of Prince Edward Island. The company just won the Global SIAL d’Or, one of the world’s top food prizes, for its innovative Honibe Honey Drop, a dried honey product in the form of a lozenge, used to sweeten a hot beverage with honey just as easily as you’d drop a sugar cube in your afternoon tea:

Have you ever held honey in your hand? Well now you can: introducing the Honey Drop™. The Honey Drop™ solves a common problem: liquid honey can be messy. The Honey Drop™ is an individual serving (one teaspoon / 5 g.) of 100% pure dried honey without any additives or binding agents. All of the natural honey flavor without any of the mess.

The Global Food Marketplace convention, SIAL D’Or – an event for all those involved in the food industry: retail, trade, manufacturing, catering and food services – was held in Paris, France, from Sunday, October 17 through Thursday, October 21, 2010. Island Abbey Foods won among 1,500 competitors from 30 countries.

“We are incredibly honored to win the Global SIAL d’Or,” said John Rowe, President and CEO of Island Abbey Foods Ltd. “They gave out the country awards first where we received the ‘Best in Canada Award,’ then the category awards were presented and we received our ‘Best Grocery Sweet’ award, and after much suspense they announced Honibe as the Grand Prize winner.”

For more information, visit www.honibe.com.

Ag Museum Curator Seeks Antique Honey Tins from Maritimes

Franz Klingender is Curator of Agriculture at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He writes :

November 2009

Do you happen to have a collection of old New Brunswick (or Nova Scotia) honey tins stashed away in your attic, barn loft, or honey house?

If so, would you be willing to loan one of them to the Canada Agriculture Museum?

I am looking for an antique or vintage honey tin from the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for an exhibit on beekeeping in Canada “Taking Care of Beezness” that I am curating at the Canada Agriculture Museum in Ottawa. The gist of the concept is to have a tin from each of the provinces to make the point that beekeeping is practiced accross the country. The exhibit opens in March 2010 so I am beginning to feel worried that those two provinces’s beekeepers will not be represented. Please e-mail me if you can help!

Thank you;

Franz

You may reach Franz Klingender by email at fklingender@technomuses.ca.

update: Mr. Klingender was able to locate a collector who supplied him with a couple of old honey tins for the exhibit. We’re hoping that when the exhibit is mounted in the spring that photographs may be available to share with you.