Honey has a reputation of being a healthy food, particularly when compared to other sweeteners. Though people are quick to point out that it's calorie dense, honey's Glycemic Index is less than either brown or white sugar. Honey also has a reputation for other benefits, including helping to ease coughs.
In a recent study, honey was collected from six continents, and a whopping 75% of the samples tested positive for at least one neonicotinoid. Almost 50% contained two or more. Though the levels were too low to pose a risk to human health, these chemicals — which are found in pesticides — have been linked to CCD; the study's researchers, however, disagree with pesticide makers about the actual impact on honey bees. The pesticide makers told AP News that the neonicotinoid levels were below the threshold capable of harming honey bees.
However, we think an article published in the Pacific Standard in 2015 paints a much more accurate picture. In the powerful excerpt below, journalist Josh Dzieza and entomologist Marla Spivak explain how even limited pesticide exposure can kill bees already feeling the burden of poor nutrition and pests:
"Weakened by pesticides and malnutrition, bees are likelier to succumb to disease, sometimes spread by a parasitic mite called Varroa destructor, which arrived in the U.S. from Asia in the late 1980s and quickly decimated both managed and feral bee populations. Marla Spivak, an entomologist from the University of Minnesota, put the bees' plight in human terms: Suppose you have the flu, she said, and you're starving, and you have to walk two miles for food, and there's a tick the size of a rabbit battened onto your neck, and when you finally reach food you find it's slightly poisonous. Well then, the flu finishes you off."
The need to combat situations like this is why beekeeping has taken off in the past decade. While CCD may have declined dramatically, no one knows exactly what caused it in the first place. It also stopped happening just as mysteriously as it began. Because there's still so much gray area where CCD is concerned, it could happen again, strike without warning, and decimate the bee population. To sum it up, even if the pesticides in honey won't hurt you, the bees that make this powerful food are still at risk.
Steering clear of using pesticides in your own yard and garden can reduce the levels present in your own hive, but don't expect to be 100% pesticide free. Because worker bees cover so much ground when foraging, even the most vigilant beekeepers can't know exactly what their bees have come into contact with.
You can, however, eat the honey you harvest from a Tapcomb® hive without processing or filtering it. Since honey that hasn't been altered or treated is the healthiest by far, having access to raw, unprocessed and unfiltered honey is one the biggest advantages of being a beekeeper. In our opinion, this benefit is second only to doing what we can to help the industrious little insect that's so vital to our own existence.