Bee totals stung

JACKSON CENTER — A rural Auglaize County beekeeper  says people need to take beekeeping and the importance of honey in people’s diets more seriously.

Donald Steinke recently explained many problems happening in the industry, citing a report by the Food Safety News that reported more than three-fourths of what grocery stores and other retailers are selling as honey doesn’t fit the legal designation of honey.

“They heat it up to 160 to 180 degrees and filter it down so much that there is no pollen in it,” Steinke said. “They are importing it from China and other places. They undercut our prices so much that people buy the filtered honey when they think they are buying honey because it is advertised and sold as honey.”

The report indicated that most honey sold on the market has been filtered so much that there is no pollen content present.

Without pollen content, it doesn’t meet most health organization safety reviews, such as the World Health Organization and the European Commission. Without pollen content, there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate or safe sources.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that any ultra-filtered product no longer containing pollen can be called honey, but they are not currently checking if the honey contains pollen.

Steinke said that the food traditionally known as being healthy has to contain the pollen to be healthy.

“People with allergies such as asthma need the pollen to build up a resistance,” Steinke said. “When you eat a lot of honey, you don’t need as many drugs. Honey is good for the body and it helps you live longer. For example, that is why they use honey and lemon juice as cough medicine.”

Steinke, who noted he is appalled by another statistic, said the honey bee population is declining at an alarming rate in the United States as well as world-wide. He cited there were 6 million bee hives in 1947 as compared to only 2 million today.

“If all the bees disappeared, it would take about four years and we’d all be gone,” Steinke said.

Steinke said bees are responsible for pollinating more than 100 different crops, including apples, pears, peaches, squash and watermelon just to name a few. USDA research has determined a 16 percent increase in soybean yield is possible when bees are present. With all determining factors of bee pollination figured in, honey bees account for a little more than one-third of all agricultural production.

Steinke reported that he lost approximately 60 percent of his bee hives last winter, and that most beekeepers lose between 20 to 80 percent of their hives each winter.

He said that he recently put a observation hive in his barn approximately 75 feet from the road, and that one week later the bees were all dead after workers sprayed along the roadway.

“A bee is a little thing and it doesn’t take much to kill him,” Steinke said.

Steinke said there were several things that government officials and the public could do in order to preserve real honey for health and other needs.

“The FDA needs to watch it more closely and take it off of the shelves if it isn’t real honey,” Steinke said. “Probably 999 out of 1,000 people believe they are getting real honey when they buy it.”

He also stated that all beekeepers are registered with the state and farmers and work crews need to check if bee hives are located closely if they are spraying.