Seminar Convenes in Tabasco,
Bee Culture (December 2004 to
February 2005), Vols 132-133
Malcolm T. Sanford
The 18th Mexican Beekeeping Seminar (Seminario
Americano de Apicultura) and associated 8th Apiexpo (Expo Apícola) convened
in Villahermosa, capital of the Mexican state of
September 8 through 10, 2004. Besides
beekeeping, this area is known for, among other things, its petroleum and aboriginal
Mayan ruins (Palenque).1 In addition, the region is famous for
huge stone heads carved by the Olmec society, which
had as one of its centers a town near Villahermosa,
the site of famous ruins at La Venta.2
Hard by the Gulf of Campeche, Tabasco is the namesake of the
famous hot sauce, which is manufactured and trademarked in Louisiana,
but derived from the hot peppers native to this tropical land.3 Tabasco
state in Mexico
is populated almost exclusively by the tropically-adapted infamous Africanized
honey bee. It is part of the gulf
coastal plain, which also encompasses the states of Campeche,
Yucatán and the territory
of Quintana Roo. Taken together, these political entities make
most important beekeeping region. Mexico (specifically the Yucatán region) lost
its number-one world ranking in honey exportation to Argentina
over the last three decades, but continues to export some of the most
sought-after honey in the world. Given
historically high prices for honey and the exclusion of China from the trade due to contamination
issues, it was no surprise to see that a main theme of this year’s seminar in Villahermosa was the
international honey trade.
The Global Honey Market:
Dr. Francisco Ricalde at the University of Quintana Roo
described the historical and current global honey market. The recent high prices due to Chinese and
Argentine honey being all but eliminated from world trade because of
contamination and other factors (anti dumping) are also reflected in world
honey statistics, according to Dr. Ricalde. FAO figures, he said, show 2002 world honey
production was 1,270,000 tons, a growth of 9.9 percent since 1997. Some 35 percent of that honey was exported
from producing countries, an 11 percent increase in exported honey over the
year 2000. Dr. Francisco’s predictions
indicated a slight increase in production to 2006 followed by a decline
thereafter, as both China
become players again. Many things will
affect the world honey market in the future, he concluded, some predictable
others not so. Nevertheless, he said
that in the future there should be stabilization in the world market that will
reduce large cyclical variations often seen in the past.
Chinese Efforts to Clean up Their Act:
A presentation by an official of one of China’s bee
products industries (Henan Changge Jixiang Bee Products Ltd. Co.) revealed the depth to which
the Chinese are attempting to change their production and marketing practices
due to recent contamination incidents.
They have implemented the following five (5) steps in order to assure
the world that they are cleaning up their act:
large-scale macro regulation with mandatory inspections and increased
supervision. Delegations from other
countries, including Mexico and the European Union (EU) have been invited to
tour beekeeping establishments and encouraged to tell Chinese beekeepers what
effects the use of medications such as chloramphenicol
are causing in the world market place.
educational efforts by bringing in experts who instruct beekeepers on best
management practices in disease and pest control. This includes the efforts of Mexican
officials who recently visited the country.
3. Implementing a
system of guarantees and trace ability through the use of small groups. Beekeepers have been divided into cadres of
10 with an appointed head. If the honey
of any particular beekeeper in a group is found to be contaminated, the whole
group is censored. In addition, a series
of registration steps has been developed such that there is a paper trail from
colony to container.
modern standards to ensure sustainability in Chinese beekeeping through
standardized procedures. Beekeepers
adhering to the standard are rewarded by higher prices. .
laboratories that analyze honey and further regulating production and marketing
techniques through a bureaucracy, the National Inspection and Quality Control
In summary, the Chinese paper published in the proceedings
concluded, “in the last 900 days, China has taken corrective action
to gain control of its honey quality and today the situation is vastly
improved. Whereas in 2002, of 636
samples analyzed, some 90 percent did not comply with EU regulations, in the
current year, 97 percent of samples (354 in total) were in compliance. Mexico, therefore, should no longer
be preoccupied with the quality of imported Chinese honey.”
Chemical Residues in the Global Marketplace:
Dr. Klaus Wallner, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart
provided detailed information on the state of miticides
and their effects on honey quality worldwide.
Two general groups exist, water soluble (formic acid, oxalic acid, cymiazole) and fat soluble (brompropylate,
fluvalinate, coumaphos). The former can be found in honey, but
generally decrease over time and present little risk to wax. The latter, however, accumulate in wax over
time, such that comb exposed to them must finally be eliminated from the nest
and cannot be recycled into foundation.
In general, Dr. Waller concluded the use of fat-soluble miticides should be reduced and water-soluble products
increased. This is based on his data
published in the proceedings with respect to residues found in honey from Holland, Italy,
Croatia, Austria, Switzerland,
U.S., and Germany. A disquieting observation is that U.S. levels of the organophosphate coumaphos are vastly greater than those in Germany. This is in spite of the fact that dribbling Perezin® into the bee nest has been going on for much longer
than the supposed more controlled release through CheckMite+®
plastic strips registered in the U.S.
Finally, he concluded that a great deal more work needs to be done to
standardize treatments and residue levels in the nations of the world, ensuring
a more unified, harmonious global honey market.
Dr. Wallner recommended the
complete replacement of combs by virgin (uncontaminated) foundation annually as
a way to ensure export honey quality.
Two other statements by Dr. Waller deserve attention. One is that “silent robbery” exists among
apiaries; in other words untreated colonies can be contaminated by bees from
those that have been chemically treated.
Another is that it is possible to produce honey without residues in
“green” or “eco” apiaries by treating with either formic or oxalic acid along
with biotechnical means such as drone trapping.
The Codex Alimentarius and HIPA:
Peter Martin, Chairman of the Honey International Packers
Association or HIPA, provided information on world standards in accordance with
what is known as the Codex Alimentarius, revised in 2001.4 He
listed the current procedures in the European Union to monitor honey and said
that so far neither Mexico
followed the Codex as revised. The
former country permits antibiotic residues and use of high levels of
pesticides, something that does not coincide with norms in most other
countries. In China, two standards are available
that are not implemented elsewhere: “superior product” and “acceptable
product.” The latter allows up to 24%
moisture. He summarized the current
activities in the European Union with respect to honey legislation and
marketing, and concluded that labeling requirements will be heavily affected by
the fact that the Union has been expanded to
25 countries and the number of official languages has increased from nine to
Codex Alimentarius standards
dictate certain levels of enzymes and other substances found in imported honey
that has been stored for some time, often in larger containers (barrels). The storage potential of Mexican honey in the
coastal plain was reported by Dr. Beatriz Méndez and
associates in the Congresses proceedings.
Storage for periods can be a problem, especially in the tropics where
heat can cause two changes in honey that result in a loss of value in the
export market. These are a decrease in
enzymes (diastase) and increase in the level of hydroxymethlfurfural
(HMF). The investigators looked at three
honeys in the region, a blend from various trees and shrubs (blooming in December
2000) , and the principal sources known as tajonal, Viguiera
dentate, (blooming in February 2001), and tzitzilche,
(blooming in June 2001). Their
conclusion was that the three can only be stored under ambient temperatures for
four, seven and three months respectively without losing their export quality.
Dwight Stoller of Golden Heritage
Foods, LLC discussed global opportunities in honey marketing through a brand
new association known as the Honey International Packers Association, or
HIPA. He set the stage by listing some
of the changes that have occurred in society in general as well as in the
technological realm affecting world honey trade. Examples of the former include that only 3
percent of people in the U.S. now work in agriculture, 90 percent of all
scientists that have lived in the world are alive today, and the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and World Trade Organization (WTO) have
reduced trade tariffs by 40 percent. In
the technological arena, he described how faxes, computers and other
paraphernalia of the “information age” have changed business practices in ways
difficult to imagine just a few years ago.
Mr. Stoller, corroborated
presentations by others at the Congress stating that world honey production is
approximately 1.2 million tons, with 40,000 being sold internationally by China, Argentina
and Mexico, generally to Japan, the United States and the EU. In addition, production and marketing has
been materially affected by the appearance of new diseases and pests and
increased chemical use by beekeepers, which has resulted in contaminated honey
worldwide. He estimated that 280,000
tons (20 percent of world production) may in fact be tainted with antibiotic
residues. The situation, he concluded,
requires an unprecedented level of collaboration by those interested in
maintaining a viable world honey trade.
This situation over the last few years, according to Mr. Stoller, has resulted in discussions suggesting that a
world organization committed to honey quality was needed. Thus, at the World Apicultural Congress in Ljubljana, 2003 the Honey
International Packers Association (HIPA) was formed. Its objective is to assure the quality of
honey entering the global marketplace through improved beekeeping and
processing practices. It is currently
searching for funds to assist and educate producers and processors through web
sites, courses, research and laboratory services.
At a symposium in Celle, Germany (April 2004) on preventing
residues in honey, sponsored by Apimondia, Mr. Stoller reported that members of HIPA were involved in a
working group concentrating on nine themes or topics: governmental activities,
acceptable disease control methods, beekeeper training and attitude change,
analysis of Codex Alimentarius standards, crop
pollination and biodiversity, improving public awareness, analytical
methodology, promoting industry cooperation, and use of HACCP (Hazard Analysis
and Critical Control Point).5
Mr. Stoller closed his remarks by inviting interested
persons in the Mexican honey industry to join himself and others in making HIPA
Successes in Mexican Honey Production and Marketing:
Several “success stories” in Mexican apiculture were
published in the Congress’ proceedings.
Rodrigo Armendariz Hernández
of DEMIEL related his efforts to find other firms to join with in the complex
task of marketing Mexican honey to the world.
Thus, “DEMIEL is
a member of the Mexican Association for Beekeeping Industry Development, AMDIA (Asociación Mexicana para el Desarrollo de la Industria Apícola) that promotes a fair-trading by
gathering all of the parties involved in producing and marketing beekeeping
byproducts.” 6 A fundamental strategy is
to develop a line of products that could easily be seen as distinct and 100
percent Mexican in origin. The
importance of promotion cannot be denied, according to Mr. Armendariz
DEMIEL, therefore, has participated in numerous international food
shows. He concluded that it is important
to integrate Mexican beekeeping, incorporating both producers and packers in
order not to lose competitiveness either in the international or national
Professor Héctor Arcos Hernández and colleagues reported on how the efforts of 20
beekeepers in Tlaxcala state resulted in the development of an “integrated
enterprise” in beekeeping. This appears
to be a legal term that has some of the same characteristics as a traditional
cooperative might. The goal is to
demonstrate to the Mexican beekeeping industry the value of integrating
(cooperating) to create economies of scale for purchasing in bulk, acquiring
and training in new technologies and installing modern extraction and bottling
plants. This also brought about the interest
of a local school (Colegio de Postgraduados),
which now has a demonstration center in apiculture training. In the fall of 2003, the enterprise sold 63
drums (one drum = 600 lbs), returning to each beekeeper a return of one-half
Mexican peso ($US 0.045) per kilogram (one kilogram = 2.2 lbs).
Agricultural Producers of the Lacandona Forest
de la Selva Lacandona) is
an organization of indigenous people from Chiapas state that
consists of 360 rural producers in 49 local communities producing coffee and
honey. The objectives of this
organization are to provide direct access to markets for the growers involved
and to have an organic certification for both products. At the Congress, the Association reported an
annual production of 250 tons of honey from 7,000 hives and some 2,623 quintales (one quintal = 45 lbs) of coffee. Other results of this effort include a new
building complex with extractors and bottling apparatus, as well as a two 3-ton trucks used to distribute the products.
Mexican Domestic Honey Consumption:
Although much of the effort in Mexico is to produce and market
honey for export, there was significant discussion at the Congress about the
role of the domestic market. Professor
Victor Pineda introduced a nation-wide campaign to increase domestic honey
consumption. This is a cooperative
effort between the Mexican government (Consejo Regulador de la Miel de Abeja Mexicana, A.C.) and the national beekeepers union
(Unión Nacional de Apicultores).7
In each registration packet at the Congress was a form
beekeepers could fill out to help the beekeeping industry raise 500,000 Mexican
pesos (US $45,450), matching what the national government promises to provide
through the Consejo Regulador
de la Miel de Abeja
Mexicana, A.C. This appears to be a
similar campaign to that of the National Honey Board. It will design point of sale kiosks in
service stations, publish recipes and other tips on using honey, and launch an
international marketing effort through events such as SIAL, which convenes in Paris, France
There are 100,000,000 Mexicans, according to Professor
Pineda, and per capita consumption is extremely low. If each person only increased their
consumption by only a teaspoon or two a day, he concluded, this would materially
eat into domestic production. .
Other themes at the Congress included the culture of stingless bees (meliponiculture),
honey bee pathology (diseases and pests), genetics (breeding), and
pollination. These will be covered in
Project World Wide Web Site, accessed October 23, 2004<http://www.mesoweb.com/palenque/current_dig.html>.
- La Venta Ruins World Wide Web Site, accessed October 23,
- What’sCooking in America Web Site accessed October 23,
- Apiservices Web Site accessed October 23, 2004 <http://www.apiservices.com/articles/us/honey_quality.htm>.
- FDA Haccp Web Site accessed October 23, 2004 <http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/haccp.html>.
Web Site accessed October 23, 2004 <http://www.demiel.com.mx>.
- Unión Nacional de Apicultores
Web Site accessed October 23, 2004 <http://www.unapicultores.org.mx/index.htm>.
Web Site accessed October 23, 2004< http://www.sial.fr/>.
Seminar Convenes in Tabasco,
Malcolm T. Sanford
In my last column discussing the events of the 18th Mexican
Beekeeping Seminar (Seminario Americano de Apicultura), I wrote about the relationship between Mexican
honey production and the world market place.
One of the major worldwide issues is the use of chemicals to treat a
variety of pests and diseases and their potential to contaminate the global
honey crop. A paradox in Mexico
is that there exist Africanized honey bees, which appear to be tolerant to and
require less treatment for many situations, especially infestation by Varroa destructor. Despite this fact, many beekeepers in that
country either prefer to use strains of European bees, which require treatment,
or don’t know the level of tolerance to mites by the bees they keep (their
level of Africanization), and so use treatments as a
preventative “just in case.”
Resistance to Chemical Treatments in Mexico:
With this as a background, Dr. Stephen Martin, Department of
Animal and Plant Sciences, University
of Sheffield in the United Kingdom presented two
papers. The first asked whether Varroa resistance to pesticides was in fact a problem in Mexico,
and the second described some pests and conditions that might affect Mexican
beekeeping in the near future.
Many species of organisms are found associated with honey
bees, according to Dr. Martin, including insects, fung,
bacteria, viruses and mites. Upwards of
70 species of the latter may be found in bees in certain areas, but are often
not problematic (benign). However, the
global movement of honey bees has created conditions where benign organisms
suddenly become virulent and cause problems.
The prime example of this is Varroa
destructor, not a significant problem on its natural host Apis cerana in Asia, but extremely damaging to Apis
mellifera in many other regions where this mite
has been introduced, usually through purposeful importation.
In areas where Varroa has become
extremely invasive, Dr. Martin says the practice of treating with pyrethroids (Apistan® and Bayvarol®) has now created resistance in the mite
populations to fluvalinate in both the United States and Europe. In addition, in a few short years, resistance
has also developed to alternative materials like Perizin®
in Europe and CheckMite+® in the United States, both formulated
Finally, resistance to another class of pesticides, which includes the
material amitraz, is also on the rise.
Dr. Martin says resistance by Varroa
to most treatments is probably inevitable given the movement of bee stocks
around the world. Especially dangerous
for Mexico is importation of
resistance through honey bees from the United States, where it is already
epidemic. It is crucial, therefore, for Mexican beekeepers to detect resistance
as early as possible to avoid colony loss and reduce further spread of the
phenomenon. Finally, Dr. Martin
concludes that many Mexican beekeepers have the option to use Africanized honey
bees should mites become resistant to treatments in European honey bees. Where this is not possible, they could also
explore other non-chemical control methods such as drone trapping and screened
Other Threats to Mexican Beekeeping:
In his second paper, he describes the four largest threats
to the future of Mexican beekeeping, Varroa
destructor, Tropilaelaps clareae, the small hive beetle (Aethina
tumida), and finally the “capensis”
problem. The first organism has already
been discussed above. Many Mexican
beekeepers are indeed fortunate that they can choose to manage Africanized
honey bees, which have some innate tolerance to Varroa.
They might not be so fortunate, according to Dr. Martin, if
the other mite, T. clareae, should be
introduced. This mite is found
originally on Apis dorsata
(the giant Asian honey bee). This
tropically-adapted mite is considered less of a potential problem in temperate
areas such as the United States
and Europe, but in the Mexican tropics, it
could wreck havoc. It is a huge problem
in tropical areas of Asia when associated with
and the Africanized bee may well not be as tolerant to this mite as it is to Varroa in the American tropics. The mite has a similar life cyle and appearance to Varroa,
Dr. Martin concludes, who strongly urges any beekeeper finding a mite that
appears different than Varroa to report it
immediately to the veterinary authorities.
The small hive beetle (SHB) has yet to appear in Mexico,
Dr. Martin says, but if it does, the environment would seem excellent for
population buildup. In addition, it is
known that Africanized honey bees can round up the beetles and keep them
incarcerated for periods, but this does not remove the threat that any
imbalance in a colony could provoke a beetle takeover. Again, as with T. clareae,
Dr. Martin suggests any beekeeper finding a suspicious beetle, turn it in to
Finally, Dr. Martin mentions the “capensis”
problem. The introduction of an Apis mellifera capensis worker bee, which could easily become a pseudo
queen, is ever present wherever bees are kept.
The takeover by capensis pseudo queens
in South Africa
has resulted in severe dislocations of the bee industry in certain areas. The Africanized honey bee is as susceptible
to the problem as are other subspecies, Dr. Martin said, meaning that Mexican
beekeepers would not be able to shift to that race in case there are problems
as they now can with Varroa.
Two papers discussed honey bee tolerance or resistance to Varroa. One by this
author has already been published in Bee Culture (October 2004). Another by Dr. Gard
Otis, University of Guelph, Ontario,
Canada examined resistance
in honey bees in France and Canada. Both populations had light Varroa mite loads, but the Canadian bees did not survive as
well. This may have been due to the fact
that the bees were challenged not only by Varroa, but
also by tracheal mites. Dr. Otis
concludes that the phenomenon of “resistance” found in French bees is
localized, “French bees are not resistant in Canada,
but Canadian bees are resistant in France.”
The Canadian – Mexican Link Strengthens:
There appears to be stronger links being forged between Canada and Mexico if one can read between the
lines based on presentations at the Congress.
Beyond the paper described in the above paragraph, Dr. Otis also
presented information on his nutritional studies in Canada using both natural pollen
and substitutes. He indicated that the
same results were possible in the Mexican tropics (both humid and arid) using
nutritional supplements as in eastern Canada. Dr. Ernesto Guzmán Novoa from Mexico,
known for his genetic work (described elsewhere in this article) is also
expected to join the Guelph
Finally, Tim Wendell, a Manitoba beekeeper, described his management
procedures in some detail. The
information about wintering in an extreme temperate zone could not have
contrasted more with the conditions most Mexican beekeepers face. Mr. Wendell also provided information on
Canadian experience with mite- and disease-resistant stock. The story is quite involved, especially since
the border with United
States has remained closed for two
decades. Russian bees imported into the U.S. were introduced into Canada through a project at the University of Guelph.
This stock was translocated to Saskatchewan and the F1
hybrids were mated in isolated areas with selected drones.
The result of all this, according to Mr. Wendell, is not yet
known since the project is very new and the conditions in Canada are much
different than in Louisiana where this stock has been shown to be
tolerant. Canadians are also looking at
other stock in the United
States, now that the border will be open
again on a limited basis to queens.
These stocks include that by Dr. Marla Spivak,
University of Minnesota for increased hygienic behavior, and Sue Cobey’s New World Carniolans® at
The Ohio State University, as described in my column in the January 2003 Bee
Africanized Bees in Mexico:
Dr. Ernesto Guzmán Novoa, who as I said before will be joining the University of Guelph research and extension team was the author of two papers at the Tabasco
Congress. The first in conjunction with
several colleagues involved a large study full of statistical measures to see
if it was possible in Africanized bees to both increase production and at the
same time decrease defensive (stinging) behavior through genetic
selection. The results were mixed, but
the authors were encouraged that diminished honey production did not seem to directly
correlate with an increase in defensive behavior. This means that it would be possible to
genetically select for each characteristic independently of the other. This kind of program has in fact been
instituted in Mexico,
as noted elsewhere in this column.
Finally, Dr. Guzmán presented a
paper entitled “Africanized Versus European Honey Bees, Which Are Better?” Africanized honey bees entered Mexico in 1986 from Guatemala, which radically changed
Mexican beekeeping. They have replaced
European honey bees in almost 90 percent of the beekeeping regions in the
country. Their expansion was favored by
(1) increased reproductive activity, (2) more swarming, (3) a superior
abundance of drones, (4) European colonies being taken over through queen
replacement, and (5) genetic dominance in several other areas.
A major controversy continues to be the impact of
Africanized honey bees on honey production in Mexico, according to Dr. Guzmán. In spite of
reports from Brazil that
honey crops have increased, there is little evidence of this in Mexico. However, the figures may not be reflective of
all the variables involved.
Nevertheless, a major reason for decreased production is the Africanized
honey bee’s propensity to put more resources into brood and swarms, rather than
honey. Other effects are increased
defensive behavior, resistance or tolerance to diseases and production of both
pollen and propolis.
From a biological perspective, therefore, Dr. Guzmán
bees have been a great success.
The management of these insects, however, is another
story. In most of Mexico, Dr. Guzmán
says, beekeepers have had to relocate their apiaries (at least 50 percent in
populated areas, 25 percent in less populated) and reduce the number of colonies
in each yard to combat an increase in robbing, especially when colonies are
fed. They have also negatively impacted
queen rearing operations. Mating nuclei
are much more at risk of being taken over by Africanized swarms and/or robbed
of their food. Finally, these bees have
caused dislocations in commercial pollination.
They are much more difficult to transport, resulting in more colony
deaths and takeovers due to the stress involved in large-scale movement than
happens with European honey bees.
The bottom line, according to Dr. Guzmán,
is that biologically the Africanized honey bee has been a very successful, but
from a management point of view it has been a disaster for Mexican
beekeeping. Although the objectionable
behaviors of Africanized honey bees are technically “manageable,” the costs are
simply too much given current honey prices.
If honey prices could be maintained at current higher-than-usual prices
and other products such as propolis and pollen be
marketed, Dr. Guzmán concludes, there would be some
chance of overcoming the obstacles noted above.
Dr. Guzmán says that because
Africanized honey bees have biological advantages, the idea that these bees can
be eradicated cannot be considered.
However, the biological advantages can and should be taken into
consideration by beekeepers. For
example, studies have shown that colonies that are 25 percent Africanized or
less are as manageable as European bees.
Mexican beekeepers, therefore, should begin to identify desirable
characteristics in their bees and retain them through breeding. Unfortunately, there are less than fifty
queen producers in the country, producing only 30,000 queens. Some 1.8 million are needed, and the vast
majority of providers have no genetic improvement program (i.e. they are not
“breeders,” but only “producers”). The
Mexican government, however, has instituted a program whereby most producers
can increase honey production by 25 percent and reduce defensive behavior by 50
percent without recourse to instrumental insemination (see description of
previous presentation by Dr. Guzmán). In addition, there was considerable evidence
at the Congress that more and more beekeepers are considering queen rearing,
either for their own operations or for sale.
Disease and Pest Control Challenges:
The largest non-Mexican group of participants from elsewhere
in Latin America at the Tabasco affair was
that from Argentina. Dr. Marcelo del Hoyo, Veterinary Sciences Faculty, University of Tandil, discussed the
situation surrounding the world’s number two honey producer and exporter, until
last year when Argentine honey was excluded from the world market place due to
contamination with nitrofurans, used to control
American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae).
For many years, there has been a tradition in Argentina
and elsewhere, according to Dr. Del Hoyo, for
beekeepers to concoct their own treatments for diseases and mites. These “home remedies” have many problems,
control over dose given to colonies
- Use of
prohibited materials (nitrofuran, chloramphenicol)
control over period of treatment
of combs and honey
prices for honey
Because of this, Argentina
has, rather like China,
taken steps to increase enforcement of chemical control through regulatory
authorities and develop a system of traceability in honey. Dr. Del Hoyo says
that producers have began to replace comb in huge
quantities such that all traces of contamination (especially nitrofurans) are expected to disappear within a couple of
years. Concurrently producers are now
looking on organic honey possibilities, and analyzing soft chemical use to
alternate with or perhaps replace traditional treatments.
As an example, Dr. Del Hoyo
describes recommendations for Varroa control now
instituted by the Comisión Nacional
de Sanidad Apícola (CONASA)
on a regional basis. These include
rotating acaricides, using more organic or soft
chemicals, monitoring mite levels before and after applying treatments
(treating only when necessary), and coordinating treatment by regions or zones,
typical characteristics of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs.
Recommended treatment plans generally consist of two or
three mandatory treatments the first year followed by a
evaluation of control achieved, which then leads to planning for treating the
second year. The schedule set out is
quite detailed, according to Dr. Del Hoyo. For example, in areas of severe winters, two
treatments are recommended: (1) late
spring when most of the brood is present and (2) early autumn when the harvest
is over and the brood nest begins to shrink in size. Three treatments are needed in areas where
winter is less rigorous: (1) early spring as the nest expands before phoretic mites become protected in cells, (2) Summer at the end of the harvest as phoretic
mites leave the cells, and (3) autumn when the brood nest is minimal when most
mites are found outside the brood cells).
A suggested list of materials in Dr. Del Hoyo’s
paper include the following for spring (oxalic acid, formic acid, rotenone, tymol), summer (formic acid, amitraz,
and autumn (tymol, oxalic acid, amitraz,
rotenone, coumaphos, pyrethroides).
Dr. Del Hoyo has recently taken a
sabbatical from his faculty position to help market materials developed by Apilab Laboratorios Apícola.1 He
reported on several of these at the Congress.
They include Amivar®, Cumavar®,
Oxavar®, and Naturalvar®,
formulated on amitraz, coumaphos,
oxalic acid, and tymol respectively. All are effective and the first two and last
show no bee or brood mortality. The
oxalic acid product killed some bees, but not enough to be significant, Dr. Del
These materials used within the Integrated Pest Management procedures
described above appear to have a larger future.
Besides Arentina, they are now available in Uruguay and Chile.
1. Apilab Web Site, accessed December 22, 2004 <http://www.apilab.com>
Mexican Beekeeping Seminar
Convenes in Tabasco,
Malcolm T. Sanford
my last two columns discussing the events of the 18th Mexican Beekeeping Seminar
(Seminario Americano de Apicultura),
I described the situation with respect to the global honey market, chemical
treatments for pests and diseases in both Mexico
a strengthening Mexico-Canada connection and current status of the Africanized
honey bee. Besides these topics, others
included collection of propolis, the genetics of
hygienic behavior and pollination of chile peppers in
greenhouses using stingless bees. Finally, there was a most interesting
discussion of importing honey bee queens from California
into Mexico. The authors of the latter paper lament the
fact that it is virtually impossible to import queens using extant legal
procedures, although it is extremely easy to do so (and many are) by
circumventing the regulations altogether.
of what I have reported was also published in the proceedings (“memorias”) of the congress, a 223-page book, containing the
papers presented in the main session and given to all participants. Those submitted in English were “freely
translated” by the organizing committee into Spanish. The organizing committee consists of a long
list of organizations that contributed to this event, both private and
public. These include the government of Tabasco state, the secretaries
of both Mexican (Secretaría de Agricultura,
Rural, Pesca y Alimentación
(SAGARPA) and Tabascan Agriculture, the national
beekeepers association (Unión Nacional de Apicultores), the national Africanized Honey Bee program (Programa Nacional Para El Control
De La Abeja Africana), and Tabasco
College and Juaréz University. .
time I travel to Latin America, it is apparent
that more and more information on beekeeping is available in Spanish. Not only were these memorias
published, but an increasing number of materials in print, video and CD ROM was
evident in the exposition area. This is
increasingly important not only in Latin America of course, but also now in
North America given that many beekeepers are routinely employing labor from
south of the border.
continuing presence at these meetings is the magazine Apitec,
a journal of Mexican beekeeping, published by José Pedrón
a veterinarian turned journalist. This
32-page tome is distributed every two months to a growing subscription list and
has a large, prestigious editorial board.
The May/June 2004 issue contains articles on apitherapy,
the workings of the honey bee brain, chemical treatments, and how the U.S.D.A.
ARS is improving honey bee breeding through genetics, translated from a press
release related to the honey bee genome project.1 The July/August edition contains information
on the first Cuban beekeeping congress (several presentors
in Villahermosa had just attended that meeting in Havana), effects of
temperature on honey in storage, and a translated piece from Bee World
(Vol. 84, No. 4) by Dr. Mark Winston on bees and biotechnology (Genetically
Modified Organisms or GMOs).
Apitec also publishes a directory (Directorio
Apícola Mexicano), which
has been updated for the years 2003-2005.
This is a magnificent work listing over 160 pages of beekeepers
cataloged by states from Aguascalientes
to Zacatecas. In addition there are
queen breeder, exporter, equipment sections. Finally, there is a comprehensive listing of
governmental organizations as well as associations and cooperatives. Anyone interested in finding out more about
Mexican beekeeping should acquire this from the publisher. Details on Apitec
and the directory are provided on its web site where one can see past editions
and also read some information on diseases and pests.2 It’s unfortunate the one issue it
devoted strictly to those topics has been sold out.
information in Spanish originating from Mexican apiculture is scarce. The National Beekeeping Association (Unión Nacional de Apicultores) web page
needs a lot of work.3 La Colmena (the hive) billed at the first Mexican Internet
resource, information appears to have been last entered several years ago and
many of its links are out of date.4
the most electronic information in Spanish exists in Argentina, which makes sense given
the place that country has been recently elevated to in world honey production
and exportation. The premier Argentine
bee journal is Espacio Apícola,
this year publishing its 64th edition.5 Another site worth visiting is that
of the Argentina Beekeepers Society
(Sociedad Argentina de Apicultores
This association was established in 1938 and has developed
courses to train
beekeepers both as beginners and advanced apiculturists. It lobbies for apicultural issues, being a
true non-governmental organization or NGO.
It publishes both the hive bulletin (Boletín
del Colmenar), and
electronic publication and hive gazette (Gaceta
The organization also makes monthly broadcasts on satellite radio that
contain both news and educational programming.
The web site features news, techniques and a list of links, perhaps most
significant are those to two of Argentina’s
apicultural portals. One features
breaking news, shortcourses and expert opinion forums.7 The
other boasts an electronic book on beekeeping and also has a link to a bee
stamp photo album.8
am disappointed to see that Apinet, Argentina's Instituto
Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria’s innovative program on beekeeping, appears to
no longer be available.9 I published a review of this extensive
site in my Bee Culture Digital Column in May of 2000.
smattering of Spanish information exists in other countries as well. Two international web sites have links and
references of international interest.
These also feature information from Spain
as well Latin America. The first is the Virtual Beekeeping Gallery
at Apiservices.com managed by my good friend Gilles Ratia
from his 100-year-old farmhouse in southwest France. I published a review of it in my Bee
Culture Digital Column in January 1999.
The site features an excellent review of the beekeeping industries in
both Mexico10 and Argentina.11 Another is an extremely interesting site
known simply as beekeeping links (Enlaces de Apicultura)
guided by José Salinas, a Spaniard. 12 It
has a huge number of references on the main page, providing a nice global
overview of available information resources..
Spanish speakers can find information for sale in their native language at the Apis
Center, managed by this
author. The information comes packaged
in several “modules” and in two formats.
One is pure html (web pages) and the other is in a newer format with a
search feature known as html help (for Windows computers only). It is possible to see samples of what’s
available before purchasing on the web site.
The information is also available in English.
I attend beekeeping events in Latin America, I am always impressed with an
inherent energy and enthusiasm that I do not often see in similar events in North America. It
could be nothing more that age structure.
There are many more younger folks in the
developing world who are getting involved in beekeeping. In addition, those beginning have not been
faced with transitioning from an activity that was mainly “let alone” to one
where that is no longer the case, continually being challenged by mites and now
in the U.S. (soon in Latin America?) the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida.
thing is certain. I anticipate my next
journey south of the border with some eagerness. It is an excellent way to understand better
the kind of dynamics that run the global honey industry, and also how the world
activity affects beekeeping in our “colossus of the north.” I hope others will become more international
in their orientation. Too few it seems
to me miss a great deal when they don’t attend these interesting congresses
that are literally right on their doorstep.
- USDA ARS Web Site,
accessed December 22, 2004 <http://genome.gov/Pages/Research/Sequencing/SeqProposals/HoneyBee_Genome.pdf>
- Apitec Web Site,
accessed December 22, 2004 <http://www.apitec.net>.
- Unión Nacional de Apicultores Web Site, accessed December 22, 2004
- La Colmena
Web Site, accessed December 22, 2004 <http://www.laneta.apc.org/lacolmena/>.
- Espacio Apícola Web Site, accessed
December 22, 2004 <http://www.apicultura.com.ar/>.
- (Sociedad Argentina
de Apicultores Web Site,
accessed December 22, 2004 <http://sada.org.ar/>.
- Porta Apícola
Web Site, accessed December 22, 2004 <http://www.apicultura.entupc.com/>.
- Todo Miel
Web Site, accessed December 22, 2004 .<http://todomiel.com/ar>.
- Apiservices Web Site, accessed
December 22, 2004 <http://beekeeping.com/countries/mexico.htm>.
- Apiservices Web Site, accessed
December 22, 2004 <http://beekeeping.com/countries/argentina.htm>.
- Enlaces de Apicultura Web Site, accessed December 22, 2004 <http://articles.apicultura.deeuropa.net/>.
- Apis Information Resource
Center Web Site, accessed December 22, 2004 <http://apis.shorturl.com>.