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Pollen rich

Many commercial companies remove most pollen from the bees as they enter the hive, through the use of pollen traps. The bees are then fed artificial sources of pollen.

At Tahi, we do not subject our bees to this practice. Pollen traps damage the wings of bees.

More importantly, it doesn't make sense to us to deprive our bees of their health!

Stored pollen is the nutritionally rich currency used for colony growth.

Bees like all creatures including people require 10 amino acids. These are essential for development. These amino acids are critical for their brood rearing and reproduction. The source of these amino acids for bees is pollen.6 It has been known since 1977 that bees provided with pollen live more than twice as long as those without.7 Fifty years ago researchers found that colonies lacking pollen had high worker mortality, no interest in queen-caring and remained weak.

Honey bee larvae require sufficient protein in their brood food to ensure proper development and to optimise their activities during the winter. In 1936, Farrar8 showed that the quantity of stored pollen within a colony in the fall (autumn) is significantly correlated with its spring adult bee population. In other words: the more pollen, the more bees. Other studies9 10 have shown the importance of natural pollens on hive health.

Experts such as Christina Grozinger, Professor of Entomology and Director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Penn State University, USA, have found that feeding honey bees a natural diet of pollen makes them significantly more resistant to pesticides than feeding them an artificial pollen diet.

Tahi's bees are our largest assets and so we keep them healthy. Our beekeepers make sure Tahi's bees keep their pollen and have honey to eat throughout the winter. This means that our honey cannot be contaminated with tasteless sugar, either.

Tahi's bees DO NOT pollinate crops.

While people understand that pollination it essential for the creation of many foods, modern horticulture promotes the use of large hectares for the same crop. These monocultures make the honey bees' lives difficult.

Intensive farming of mono-floral crops reduces bee habitat and replaces multiple food sources with single, often less nutritious, sources11. It is believed that this, together with exposure to pesticides and fungicides, may create environmental stressors that are factors in the die-off (Colony Collapse Disorder) of bees. Many studies have shown that polyfloral pollen is healthier for bees than pollen from a single species.12

In large-scale orchards, which may cover hectares of land, honey bees can gather only one sort of pollen, which reduces the diversity of pollen available to the bees as food. Much like people, it is known that bees are healthier the more diverse the pollen (protein) sources.

Pollen from different plants varies in nutritional value. Some pollen, like sunflower pollen, has insufficient nutritional value for bees13. Therefore, a sound practice is to ensure a wide range of pollen is available. In New Zealand, bees are used to pollinate kiwifruit but this plant offers no nectar and so the bees must be fed sugar.

Recently researchers discovered "that most of the crops that the bees were pollinating appeared to provide their hives with little nourishment"14. When the researchers in the USA collected pollen from bees foraging on crops such as blueberries and watermelon, they found the pollen came from other flowering plants in the area, not from the crops.

This research also showed that honey bees used to pollinate crops are exposed to a wide variety of agricultural chemicals, including common fungicides which impair the bees' ability to fight off a potentially lethal parasite. Pollen samples from these hives contained nine different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and miticides. Sub-lethal levels of multiple agricultural chemicals were present in every sample, with one sample containing 21 different pesticides. Honey bees are known to entomb this pollen to remove it from consumption in the hive21.

Many crops are treated with systemic insecticides by dressing the seeds or treating the soil. Plants like sunflowers and maize absorb these insecticides and secrete them in nectar and pollen15; bees then collect this and take it back to their hives.

You are what you eat - and this is true for bees too.

Pollination of crops often exposes bees to pesticides and herbicides, which can be taken back to the hive and mixed in with the honey they produce. There is NO mandatory requirement to test for these chemicals in honey. But you can be assured that Tahi Honey comes from natural habitats, not mono-floral commercial orchards. We do not use our bees for commercial pollination to ensure that Tahi Honey comes from hives placed only in natural habitats free from contaminants.

Our ethical management of bees extends further - Tahi does not collect bee venom.

 

6. Keller IP, Fluri P and Imdorf A. (2005) Pollen nutrition and colony development in honey bees-Part 2. Bee World 86: 27-34.

7. Rinderer and Kathleen (1977) in Z Huang (2012) Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews 5: 175-189.

8. Farrar DL. (1936) Influence of pollen reserves on the surviving populations of over-wintered colonies. American Bee Journal 76: 452-454.

9. Mattila HR and Otis GW. (2006) The effects of pollen availability during larval development on the behaviour and physiology of spring-reared honey bee workers. Apidologie 37: 533-546.

10. Sagili RR and Pankiw T. (2007) Effects of protein-constrained brood food on honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) pollen foraging and colony growth. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 61: 1471-1478.

11. Harvey F. (2011) Honey bees "entomb" hives to protect against pesticides, say scientists. 4 April, www.theguardian.com

12. Huang Z. (2012) Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews 5: 175-189.

13. Schmidt LS, Schmidt JO, Rao H et al. (1995) Feeding preference of young worker honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) fed rape, sesame and sunflower pollen. Journal of Economical Entomology 88: 1591-1595.

14,15. Pettis JS, Elinor M, Lichtenberg MA et al. (2013) Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae. PLOS ONE, 8 (7): e70182 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070182

21. Adams CJ, Manley-Harris M and Molan PC. (2009) The origin of methylglyoxal in New Zealand manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) honey. Carbohydrate Research 344, 1050-1053.