Saturday, October 24, 2009

Antimicrobial Activity of Honey

Antimicrobial Activity of Honey Against Food Pathogens and Food Spoilage Microorganisms
M. A. MUNDO1, O. I. Padilla-Zakour, and R. W. Worobo. (1)
Department of Food Science and Technology, Cornell University, NYSAES, W North St, Geneva, NY 14456

The growth of many microorganisms is either partially or completely inhibited in the presence of diluted honey. Previous researchers have demonstrated strong antibacterial activity by specific honey samples against Staphylococcus aureus. We are interested in detecting the spectrum of antimicrobial activity against several food pathogens and spoilage microorganisms. Our research objective was to investigate the antimicrobial activity of different types of honey against food pathogens and food spoilage microorganisms.

A variety of American honey samples were tested for antimicrobial activity by placing 0.2 g of honey into well diffusion agar plates, with 1.0% of the test microorganism inoculated into a 0.75% overlay agar. Six pathogenic and six spoilage microorganisms were evaluated. Inhibition zones were analyzed for both full-strength and diluted honey. Physical and chemical evaluations of each honey were also performed, including pH, Titratable Acidity, soluble solids (Brix), total phenols (Folin-Ciocalteu method), and color measurements.

The microorganisms tested were inhibited by both hydrogen peroxide and other antimicrobial agents found in the honey. A variety of antimicrobial activity exists within the floral source of the honeys. Tarweed and Montana Buckwheat samples impeded growth of Listeria monocytogenes at one-quarter and one-eighth dilutions, respectively, as well as Lactobacillus, Bacillus, E. coli and Salmonella at stronger dilutions. However, the Chinese Buckwheat sample was effective against E. coli and Salmonella only at full-strength. Gram negative bacteria seem to be inhibited by honey's high sugar concentration while Gram positive bacteria appear to require a threshold inhibitory level of antibacterial activity in order to prevent growth.

Certain varieties of honey were shown to exhibit non-peroxide antimicrobial activity and were capable of inhibiting the growth of food pathogens and food spoilage microorganisms. The incorporation of honey into foods could enhance their safety and shelf-life without the use of chemical preservatives.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beekeeping: A Brief History

Information from my Beekeeping Workshop at Simple Living Institute in Orlando, FL.

Ancient Beekeepers
o Beekeeping dates back at least 17,000 years.
o Primitive man gathered honey from bee colonies in hollow trees and rock crevices. This practice is still carried out in many places.
o Approximately 6,000 B.C. an unknown artist created a rock painting in La Arana shelter, eastern Spain. It depicts two men climbing a tree to gather honey. The man at the top of the tree is in the process of robbing the hive, with bees flying around him. The painting was discovered in 1924.
o In 3,000 B.C. pictures of honeybees were inscribed in Egyptian tombs. Honey was left in some of these tombs. When the ancient honey was discovered it was still good!
o The Bible refers to a land of “Milk and Honey”.
o Ancient Mediterranean people housed bees in long, cylindrical, clay pots turned in a horizontal position.
o Ancient Europeans tended wild bee nests found in hollowed trees. During the Stone Age hives were developed by cutting the nest section out of fallen trees with axes. The log section could be moved and more easily maintained.
o Skeps or Baskets made of coiled straw or woven twigs can be traced back to 5,000 B.C. They are still used today and have not changed much.

Early advances in Beekeeping
o Honeybees were transported from the Old World to the New World in the early 1600’s.
o Between 1500 and 1851 Skep Beekeepers devised various methods for taking honey from hives without killing the bees. They also learned to combine colonies for wintering.
o In 1682 Sir George Wheler published a report on woven wicker hives he had seen in Greece. The hive used top bars and was wider at the top, so the combs did not become attached to the sides of the hive.

Modern advances in Beekeeping
o In 1851, Lorenzo Langstroth developed the moveble-frame hive. The hive used 3/8 inch spacing between the frames and the hive body. This critical spacing prevented the bees from attaching the frames to the hive body.
o In 1865, Franz von Hruscha created a centrifugal honey extractor.
o The Langstroth Hive and Centrifugal Extractor remain the most common tools for modern honey production.

Beekeeping: The Honey Bee

Notes on the Honey Bee, from my Beekeeping Workshop.

Physical Characteristics
o Bees have an exoskeleton covered with with a thick coat of hair. The hairs attract and catch pollen as the bee flies from flower to flower.
o Bees have two antennae which they use to smell, hear, feel, and communicate.
o The mouth has two mandibles which move side to side. The tongue and mouth form a long tube, or proboscis.
o A bee has four wings, two on each side. Each pair hooks together to function as one unit.
o In flight a bee beats its wings 160-200, this produces the distinctive buzzing sound which is in the key of C sharp!
o Bees have two sets of eyes. The compound eyes are plainly visible on each side of the head. There are also three single eyes, or ocelli, on top of the head in a triangular pattern.
o Honey bees have several glands. One on the head which produces royal jelly. One on the abdomen that produces wax. And of course, the venom sac that produces the notorious sting.
o The bees stinger is a chitin tube with a barbed tip.

Types of Bees
o Workers – infertile females
o Drones – males
o Queens – fertile females
o Male bees do not have stingers.
o Only the workers gather honey, pollen, and propolis and build the combs.

Beekeeping: Tools of the Trade

This information is from my Beekeeping Workshop. This is a general introduction to the basic tools the beekeeper requires.

The Hive
o The Langstroth hive is still the most commonly used hive.
o In the US there are three sizes of super: Deep, Medium, and Shallow.
o The hive should be placed level and protected from pests.

The Smoker
o Uses a canister and bellows to produce smoke.
o The smoke calms the bees, masks the alert pheromone, and reduces stinging behavior.
o Smoke should be used sparingly, but always kept available to the beekeeper to control aggression as needed.
o Smoke should be 'cool' to the touch. If you notice any flames coming from the smoker, discontinue use immediately.
o You can cover the combustible material in the smoker with a layer of green grass to help 'cool' the smoke and reduce flare-up.

The Veil
o Protects the head, neck, and face. These areas of the body are very sensitive and are targeted by angry bees.
o Must be worn properly to be effective.

The Hive Tool
o A flat metal bar with a curved end for prying up frames.
o Can be used for numerous tasks in the beeyard including: scraping wax, loosening frames, opening hives, and removing stings.

Sample Beekeeping Schedule for Florida

Here are the notes I give beginners in Florida regarding the steps each beekeeper must take to maintain healthy hives. This information can be applied to other areas of the country as well, just adjust the dates accordingly for your local conditions.

First Inspection of the Season:
Do not walk across the bees flight path.
Approach the apiary from the back or side of the hives.
Visually observe the flight activity to identify live or dead
over-wintered hives. Remove protective winter wrap and
verify dead or alive hive by seeing live bees.

Live Hives:
Check for food stores; if needed use the clean honey
frames from the non-diseased dead hives and if not
available feed sugar syrup. Scrape bottom board &
remove the first brood super.

Dead Hives:
Inspect each super, saving empty clean combs and bad
frames culled for wax rendering. Store the clean scraped
equipment on the hive stand; culled supers with bad combs
returned to the honey house for wax rendering, sterilizing
in lye bath during the season for additional winter re-work
for use the next season.

March 26
Inspect the living over-wintered hives. During
this inspection, identification of worker bees, queens,
drones, eggs, larva (brood), honey, pollen and condition of
the frames, hive strength, number of frames of brood is
determined. Identify strong/weak hives to equalize
colony strength, colonies to split, colonies needing a new
queen and diseased AFB hives.

Install packages bees, on the dead site equipment. Make

April 3
Install additional packages and queens into splits and
divides. Check all hives for swarm cells. If swarm cells are
present split the hive. Add a honey super on each hive a
honey flow is on. Check each hive for swarm cells, you do
not want any swarms. Swarming depletes the old hive of
workers who produce a honey crop. Swarms petrify
neighbors in the area and create trouble for Beekeepers in

April 24
Repeat swarm cell check, check for the need of honey
supers and look in trees for hanging swarms. A lack
of hive activity warrants a hive inspection, open swarm
cells indicating virgin queens in the hive. A GOOD

July 7
The swarming season should be over. Remove full honey
supers to be extracted and add empty honey supers to the
hives. The honey supers should be covered to prevent
robbing and move them to the honey house.

Aug 5
The season is at its peak. You are beginning to function as
beekeepers. The hives are bulging with honey and bees.
Splits and divides are hives, no longer 4 frame nucs. It is
time to do something with them. Consolidate or save for
requeening in September. This decision depends on apiary
status. Visually check each hive for activity.

Sept 9
Strip the hives of all honey supers, but leave one full honey
super on each hive. Cover your honey supers and get
them away to the honey house; otherwise you will create a
robbing situation that you donĂ­t want to experience.
Powdered sugar treatment for every hive for varroa mites.
Formic acid Mite-Away pad treatment will be applied if
necessary. August is the transitional change of brood by
the queen from the summer bee to the winter bee that will
survive and face the rigors of winter to keep the hive alive
for the next season.

Oct 20
Requeen only the over wintered hives with the splits and
divides made during the season. Remove any medication
from all hives before requeening. All hives are to be
established to the basic 4 super winter hive arrangement,
not counting the requeening super. Basic 4 super winter
hive consists of brood supers and 2 honey supers
requeening super is in between. Honey is stored in the
honey house. I repeat, honey supers are to be covered
while in use to prevent a robbing situation. Any left over
splits or divides are to be combined into basic winter hives.
Note: Install your entrance reducer on each hive to keep
out mice. Feed sugar syrup to the hives to provide
adequate over wintering food supply.

Nov 11
Remove all requeening supers from hives and put on top of
each hive on the inner cover. Inner cover should be in the
winter position. Begin to winter wrap the hives with 20
pound roofing paper, secure the paper with baling twine,
secure with slats, staple roofing paper, whatever mode. Tilt
hive from rear with shims for water drainage, entrance
reducer in place, use bales of hay for a wind break if
needed. Requeening supers on top of hives will be
removed by Dec 1. All hives should be winterized (roofing
paper wrapped) in areas of the state that receive frost.

Beginning Beekeeping: The Costs

An Estimated Cost of Beekeeping for Your First Year.

One of the first questions to come up at Beekeeping classes is, “How much does it cost to keep Honeybees?” This is a very good question. Most hobby or back yard beekeepers will keep one or two hives their first year. I always suggest keeping two hives so you can compare the difference. You will gain more knowledge and experience with two hives. The following is a breakdown of cost for your first year based on purchasing all new equipment:

One Hive Setup ----------------------------------- $229
(Includes bottom board, 2 Deep supers, 20 Deep frames, 2 Honey supers, 20 Honey frames, Queen excluder, Inner cover, Outer cover, and entrance reducer.)

Frame Feeder ----------------------------------- $10

Package of Bees----------------------------------- $110
( 3lbs of bees with a queen)

Clothing and Tools --------------------------------$125
( Veil, gloves, smoker,2 hive tools, bee brush)

Bee School------------------------------------------ $100
(School sometimes includes a text book)

Extraction ----------------------------------------- $15
(Some clubs rent extraction equipment)

Total First year with one hive------------------$589

Total First year with two hives----------------$1038
(Additional hive setup, package of bees
And medication and feed)