bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Why Utah is nicknamed the Honeybee State

There was once nearly a State named after the honeybee in the USA. Apparently, Brigham Young, leader of the Mormons and Governor of Utah territory in the 1850s, orginally wanted a state called Deseret which according to the Book of Mormon, the sacred text of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (corrected), meant honeybee to Hebrew Christians living in ancient America. Like the honeybee, Young thought his followers should be productive and self-sufficient.

However, the US Federal Government rejected the Deseret name because of its religious significance and the territory was admitted to the Union in 1896 as Utah (named after the Ute tribe of Native Americans).

The name Deseret lives on in many businesses in Utah, including the Deseret Morning News, and the state is still known by the nickname of the Honeybee State. It has the beehive as an emblem on its flag and elsewhere even though honeybees are not very economically significant in the area.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Surprising things to do with honey

OK, I'm going to say this only once:
To increase priapic powers, according to The Kamasutra, “eating many eggs fried in butter then immersed in honey will make the member hard for the whole night.”
That was courtesy of the Melbourne Age.

Don't ever say this blog isn't educational.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Spinning wool and telling yarns

Jess Zeiger spins wool and tells yarns at her local fair in Indiana. One of her folk tales about Indiana in the 1860s is about bees and honey:
Young boys would chase bees back to their nest so they could mark the tree with their family's name and go back and get honey in the fall.

Celebrity stops shock — shock

Film star Dustin Hoffman and his wife, Lisa, came to the aid of a bee-sting victim who suffered a potentially fatal allergic reaction on Malibu Beach ... to read more, you'll have to register for the Hartford Courant and I'm afraid I can't be bothered because the registering form is a bit tedious.

Update: Thanks to Cat, who must have registered with the Hartford Courant, here is the rest of the story — and it's quite interesting:
In an interview with CBS's Early Show, 36-year-old Lydia Graham talked about being rescued by the legendary actor two weeks ago after she stepped on a bee while walking down by the water with friends.

“Within about 30 seconds, I could feel my whole body started to itch and blister. My scalp was itching, under my armpits, and I could feel my eyes starting to sting and well and my lips starting to swell up as well,” Graham told Early Show host Harry Smith.

As she was in the throes of a major allergic reaction, Graham's friends went for help and found the Hoffmans lounging in front of their beachfront home.

As it turned out, Hoffman's wife, Lisa, is also allergic to bee stings and twice has been hospitalized for a similar reaction. The couple took the woman up to their deck.

“My throat was starting to dry out and get swollen. My stomach was in severe pain, and my eyes were swelling shut,” said Graham. “So I did recognize that it was Dustin Hoffman, but I was sure that I was going — I could possibly die.”

Lisa Hoffman rushed into the house and retrieved the drug EpiPen from a first-aid kit and injected it into Graham's thigh.

Instantly, her swelling subsided. Graham said the Hoffmans saved her life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Beekeeper Game

I have invested a modest amount in Shared Interest (the UK company — there are other Shared Interests with similar objectives in other countries) for some years, but I've only just noticed its Beekeeper Game.

Shared Interest is a co-operative lending society that aims to reduce global poverty by providing fair and just financial services. Founded in 1990, it has 8,000 members who have invested more than £20 million which is used to facilitate fair trade — usually by providing loans to enterprises (including co-operatives) in developing countries. The interest for investors is not great, but the impact for borrowers in poor countries can be very significant. Beekeeping enterprises are often supported.

Its Beekeeper Game lets you imagine yourself living in a poor country faced with a number of decisions to try to get you and your family out of a poverty trap. And of course you bhave bees at your disposal. Try it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Waspish communication

I think wasps (yellow jackets in the USA) get a really bad press, especially from beekeepers. So I'm glad to see a news release from the University of Wisconsin about a study of the interaction and communication of wasps.

First of all, for you wasp-haters:
“Wasps are really fairly docile,” says Bob Jeanne, an entomologist at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “If you don't jostle the nest, and if the wind is blowing from the nest towards you, you can actually get quite close to observe them.”
I'd agree with that. Wasps are quite friendly!

Jeanne notes that wasps have several communication strategies, including chemical, mechanical and visual signals, as well as situational cues. For example, “on a dry day, a forager wasp who returns with water might have the water unloaded by a worker wasp right away. That cues the forager there is a high demand for water, and she might decide to get more water immediately.” On the other hand, says Jeanne, if the forager has to wait with her cargo for a minute or two, she might deduce that there is no pressing need for water, and not depart to forage right away.
Jeanne also thinks that wasps use scents rather than dances to locate food sources.

Well, I watch wasps around my supers of newly extracted comb and they certainly seem to pick up that smell very quickly.

And to any bristling beekeeper who says that wasps rob and destroy their bee colonies, I cam only say that I've suffered that just once and that was because the colony was very weak.

Varroa scare in South Island New Zealand recedes

Restrictions on the movement of hives in South Island have been lifted for all but 23 beekeepers in South Island, New Zealand. It now seems that the cock-up cross-contamination theory is true.

Restrictions were originally imposed on over 300 beekeepers' hive movements because two varroa were found in samples from bee colonies in the Canterbury area. But those varroa probably got there through cross-contamination from samples from North Island. South Island may still be varroa-free.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Apitherapy and cupping

Professor Centre for Apitherapy and Cupping — well, according to the Khaleej Times Online that's the name of a new centre in Abu Dhabi. Apparently, it's the first apitherapy centre in the United Arab Emirates.

There's a claim that apitherapy derives from Islamic teachings:
“The companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have inculcated the common sense of curing and treatment of various ailments using doses of bee honey as excellent remedy for diseases,” said Dr Sarraj, who spent 23 years teaching zoology, general entomology and crop protection at the Department of Crop Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Khartoum, Sudan.
But what about this cupping business?:
cupping (Hijama) or sucking of the blood (purgation) that is believed to be decomposed for the body and is the main cause of ailments. Cupping ... is common at physiotherapy departments at some hospitals in the country.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Canadian bee disease crisis “overblown”

The Kashmir bee virus (KBV) scare in British Columbia (BC), Canada has been overblown says Paul van Westendorp, a provincial apiculturalist with the Ministry of Agriculture. The reports came as something of a shock to local beekeepers who didn't think there was a problem.
In the spring, KBV resulted in massive losses — 80 to 90 per cent mortality — at a Fraser Valley commercial bee operation. It is unknown what impact, if any, the virus could have on BC apiaries and fruit production. “My crystal ball is probably not better than anybody else's,” van Westendorp said.
Mr van Westendorp will probably be more careful in his dealings with the media in future.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Propolis feedback

In case regular readers haven't back-tracked, there are three interesting comments on the honey quality story.

Indian Government's bee threat

Bees are generally used as positive elements in advertising, but in chasing corporate tax arrears, the Indian Government takes a different line:
The Government will collect these arrears “like a bee extracts honey from a flower and if the flower does not yield honey, it (bee) will sting.”

Friday, July 23, 2004

Swarm casts off

A lone crewman is reported to have been surrounded by bees on an angling boat two miles off the Welsh coast tonight. The coastguard and lifeboat came to his rescue and are now trying to get a beekeeper out to the vessel to stop the mutiny.

Presumably, a swarm was misdirected by its scouts (they must have been sea scouts), realised the futility of its mission and landed on the first available dry object. Aptly, the boat was named Castaway (non-beekeepers might like to know that swarms come in two main types: prime swarms (primary) and cast swarms (secondary)).

Postscript: Looking at a map of the area, it would seem that the swarm was trying to cross an inlet. The boat is reported to have been two miles off Penclawdd and the inlet is about one mile across at that point. It's the first time I've heard of a swarm crossing a wide expanse of water to relocate.

Further update: BBC News Online has a picture of the offending swarm that “trapped” the man and forced him “to take refuge” in his cabin. (The swarm looks a bit pathetic, actually.)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The one about the fake celebrity beekeeper

Jennifer Aniston, star of the Friends TV sitcom, has been spotted in a Barclaycard advert sporting a beekeeping suit. So?

Italy numbers its bees

Pity the poor person had to count them, but Italy says it has 55 billion bees. I think his next torture should be to count Italy's sheep.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Infiltrated and ultra-filtered honey

Anyone concerned about the quality of honey should read an article in today's Guardian (a UK newspaper) about honey laundering and honey adulteration. It's not a comfortable read, but it's worth the time — especially for the piece about UF honey towards the end.

It talks about Chinese honey being passed off as Indian, Singaporian and many other countries' honey to avoid the ban in some parts of the world (just ended in the EU):
In the past 12 months, honey labelled as the produce of Cyprus, Tanzania, Moldova, Romania, Argentina, Portugal, Hungary, Spain, Bulgaria and Vietnam has turned up in European ports, honey blenders and supermarkets, testing positive for chloramphenicol [an antibiotic].
China rejects claims that anything containing chloramphenicol must be from China and claims:
“the industry organisation Apimondia convened a world conference in Germany two years ago to discuss this problem, after a survey of the international honey industry reported that “sulfonamides were found in Canadian honey, tetracycline and streptomycin in American, Mexican and Argentine honey, miticides and insecticides in American honey and chloramphenicol in Chinese and European honey.”
The article then goes on to talk about ultra-filtered (UF) and fine filtered honey:
...UF according to most honey experts, [is] not honey at all. Instead it is “a sweetener derived from honey” — honey that has been diluted with gallons of water, heated up to a high temperature, passed through an ultra-fine ceramic or carbon filter, and then evaporated down to a syrup again. In the process, every trace of impurity — including, some believe, traces of chloramphenicol — are removed.
One source thought that UF honey might be being used quite widely in the American food industry.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Blaming the bees

A son accused of murdering his father has claimed that the father shot himself on learning that his bees had “a rare infectious disease” and would have to be destroyed.
The body of Marius Jensen, 75, was found in the kitchen of his remote farmhouse near Tarrington, 290km west of Melbourne, in August 2000. He had died from a gunshot wound to the head.

His son, Douglas Victor Jensen, 39, was arrested nearly four years later and charged with murder.
The trial will continue on 31 August. Meantime, the judge has refused bail.

Kashmir virus hits western Canada

Pollination in British Columbia, Canada has been hit hard by the Kashmir bee virus according to the province's government bee expert, Paul Vanwestendorp, quoted in a CBC news report.
“No bees – no fruit. That's basically what it boils down to.”

Vanwestendorp says more than $150 million of the province's agriculture could be in jeopardy.
The virus has been in BC for decades and no-one seems to know why it has suddenly turned deadly. Varroa may be a trigger. The Okanagan, the Kootenays, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley have been badly hit, but no-one yet knows the real extent of the problem.

The news report has probably played up the severity of the problem, but it did give a great headline: “Bees dropping like flies”.

Update: yes, the problem has been overblown says later report.


Monday, July 19, 2004

Chinese honey factoids

In an article in Food Production Daily about the EU lifting of the Chinese honey ban comes a number of interesting factoids:
  • before the ban Chinese honey accounted for 40% of the UK's honey imports
  • China's slice of the international market is also about 40%
  • the next biggest producers are the USA, Argentina and the Ukraine
  • although Chinese production is still rising the number of bee colonies has declined in the past few years from a high of 6.5 million to around 5.7 million in 2001
  • officially the Chinese government has not financially supported honey producers since 1978. However, some provincial level support is available to boost the industry and income from the sale of honey, honey products and queen bees is all tax free.
  • And if you like this sort of thing, there's a very detailed and new market analysis of Chinese honey available for $512.

    Sunday, July 18, 2004

    The world's largest killer bee

    Guess where the world's largest killer bee is. Yes, you guessed it, Texas. It's a statue in Hidalgo, “the killer bee capital of the world”.
    “What other city of 4,000 has something like this?” brags Mayor Franz, sweeping his arm in the direction of his nasty mascot. “We're not going to follow the leaders anymore. We're going to take some chances and get out there in front.”
    Supposedly, Hidalgo is where Africanized honeybees first crossed the border into the USA in 1990. The bee statue seems to have cost in the region of $20,000, but it seems to be proving a lucrative tourist attraction.

    Saturday, July 17, 2004

    Celebrity beekeeper 2 — Martha Stewart

    Well, I suppose we'd better own up —
    Martha Stewart - The harbinger of American Style has been a model, a stockbroker, and a beekeeper for over twenty-five years! The avid gardener realized a long time ago that keeping bees is a good thing.
    Readers outside the USA probably don't realize her influence and the love and hate she induces. If you want to know more about her brand, read this.

    Four years ago there was even a little spat about her beekeeping credentials on a beekeepers' Internet discussion group.

    Anyway, she might have more time for her beekeeping now that she was sentenced on Friday to five months in jail, five months of home confinement and two years of supervised release following her March conviction for lying to US federal investigators about an insider trading stock market deal.

    You can even vote her the most annoying beekeeper of all time.

    Friday, July 16, 2004

    EU lifts Chinese honey ban

    Today, the European Union lifted the two-year old ban on Chinese honey because of the “significant improvements” in Chinese veterinary standards. The bans on shrimp, farmed fish, and rabbit meat are also lifted, although poultry products are still banned because of bird 'flu.
    “China has put in place a range of corrective measures which were verified by inspectors from the EU's Food and Veterinary Office,” said a statement from the EU Commission. It said the Chinese would test all consignments of food for export and to issue sanitary certificates only for those in conformity with EU requirements.
    In January 2002, the EU banned all imports of animal products from China after finding residues of veterinary medicines in food. In honey it found antibiotics.

    What happens to honey prices now? Many hobbyist beekeepers in the UK benefited from the disappearance of Chinese honey from supermarket shelves and the resulting general round of honey price rises. Will what was the cheapest honey prices in the world force down prices? Or will consumers have acquired a taste for other honeys?

    Thursday, July 15, 2004

    Show me the colour of your honey

    Technology has begun to take the decisions away from sports referees and now it's happening in the world of honey! No longer need the colour of honey be judged by eye. There is a new colour analyser from Australia:
    The C221 portable microprocessor analyser measures the percentage light transmittance of honey colour compared to analytical reagent grade glycerol. The transmittance value allows identification of the honey Pfund grade.
    The device from Hanna Instruments gives an immediate read-out and seems to be targeted at commercial operations rather than honey judges.

    UPDATE 17/3/05: Hanna Instruments has just told me that the Hanna honey meter is now available from the UK branch of Hanna Instruments based in Bedfordshire.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2004


    From a Florida Sun-Sentinel review of Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11:
    If oil were like honey, President Bush is like a little boy with a big stick poking around in the beehive; and the whole world is going to get stung by the terrorist bees.
    It's reminiscent of an earlier comment on Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's treatment of Palestinians.

    Honey laundering

    Richard Brodie, a beekeeper in the Scottish Borders region, has been stung by a £600 fine (c$1000) for passing off cheap Argentinian honey as his own Borders Honey.
    The label on the £3 jars, 25 litres of which were distributed to specialist food shops, said that the traditional Woodland Honey came from “our own carefully managed colonies” at Brodie’s apiary.
    And how was he discovered? Another beekeeper William Robson suggested he withdraw the honey — and when he didn't, Robson informed Trading Standards Officers. Brodie was charged under the Food Safety Act of being likely to mislead as to the nature of food.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2004

    Sweetness and Light

    A new book Sweetness & Light: the Mysterious History of the Honey Bee by Hattie Ellis is published by Hodder & Stoughton at £16.99. There's a short article by the author in today's Scotsman newspaper in which the author says she came across a shop in Paris selling specialist honeys touting particular qualities:
    Acacia is meant to be calming, lavender to ease respiratory problems such as coughs, rosemary is said to stimulate digestion while lime blossom aids sleep. Whether or not all this is true, customers return again and again to refill their 5kg pails and take the shop’s recommended “dose” of five teaspoonfuls a day. Since some of these customers are now nearly as old as the shop, which opened in 1898, perhaps honey really is an elixir of life.

    Monday, July 12, 2004

    Pollen claims

    An article in is making some big claims for pollen collected by bees:
    Honeybee pollen is the richest source of vitamins found in Nature in a single food, according to the institute of apiculture in Taranov, Russia.
    ... Bee pollen exceeds all animal sources in the amount of protein it provides.
    ... Many cultures around the world use [pollen] for extending life, increasing longevity, improving endurance, fortifying intestinal strength, building new blood, and even helping overcome retardation and other developmental problems with children.
    ... delays the appearance of palpable mammary tumors in mice
    ... whether you’re overweight or underweight, bee pollen will regulate your weight at its normal level.
    Pollen, anyone?

    Homeless bees take a rest on street furniture

    A healthy looking swarm has turned up on a street sign in Galton Drive in Shropshire, UK (see picture).

    Sunday, July 11, 2004

    State minibeasts

    I still don't know what happened to the attempt to make the queen honeybee the state insect of Alabama, but I notice that the honeybee is designated as the state insect of 14 states in the USA:

    Mississippi (together with the spicebush swallowtail butterfly)
    New Jersey
    North Carolina
    South Dakota
    Tennessee (together with the firefly beetle, ladybug beetle, and the zebra swallowtail butterfly — clearly an indecisive state!)
    Vermont (with the monarch butterfly)

    Various butterflies and beetles make up the bulk of the rest. Any offers for mosquitoes, ants, wasps (yellow jackets), hornets or fleas?

    Saturday, July 10, 2004

    What not to say to the media

    The Scotsman newspaper today tells a story about a couple being “trapped in their home by 80,000 bees”. Actually, a swarm took up residence in their compost bin.

    Beekeeper, John Grieve, is reported to have said:
    “This couple were very lucky. They could have walked down there and disturbed the swarm without realising. That’s how close they were to an accident. At the moment these bees are pretty aggressive as they are starving. They are very, very dangerous. Anaphylactic shock is becoming more and more common and it’s a shocking sight.”
    Perhaps Mr Grieve needs a media relations training session (unless of course he works for a pest control company — in which he's done a mighty fine job!)

    Fortunately, the local council put the incident in perspective:
    A spokesman for East Lothian Council said swarming bees were not a major concern in the area at the moment.

    Friday, July 09, 2004

    A bee joke

    For some reason, bee jokes are few and far between. Anyway, I did come across this in another blog, The Wild Oat:
    There are three types of bees — queen bees, worker bees, and drones, but the drones are now called pollen consultants.
    For anyone unfamiliar with honeybees: queens lay eggs, workers do all the work and the only function of drones is to mate with queens. Very few manage to do so — and the successful ones die as a result of the act.

    Wednesday, July 07, 2004

    Unseasonal report

    It's another strange honey season in Southern England — but then beekeepers always say that.

    We have two main nectar flows: one in May and the other in late-June and early July; the season usually ends about 15 July. This year, the first flow was fine — but unfortunately it's dominated by oil seed rape, a bland and troublesome honey because it crystallizes very quickly, often before it is extracted.

    Just as the second flow was ready to start, a benign spell of weather degenerated into showery and cooler days. Today, a summer storm passed through causing disruption on its way from Iberia to Northern Europe. My colonies haven't yet brought in a honey huge surplus, but there is time yet if the sun is given a chance to shine.

    Who knows, it might even be another good year for heather, that king of honey plants, which yields nectar here in August. Heather doesn't always provide a reliably big harvest, but over the past few years it has excelled itself. The problem is that apart from the New Forest there isn't much heather to be found amongst the chalklands of Southern England.

    The swarm that didn't take off

    Even bees are clamouring for low-cost air travel. A swarm took over the entire wingtip of an 18-seat Twin Otter aircraft at Glasgow airport today causing the plane to be taken out of commission.

    Honey &mdash the nuanced comfort food

    At last a half-decent article about the varieties of honey and their use in cooking. There are a few odd statements like “since honey is about twice as sweet as sugar...”, but generally the article gives a good introduction to the wide variety in flavours of honey. As the article Boulder News says: “honey can be as nuanced as a fine wine and as simple as a favorite comfort food”

    Tuesday, July 06, 2004

    Propolizing all over the world

    You may wonder who else reads Propolis besides yourself. I've been wondering that too. Fortunately there is a neat piece of software (sitemeter) that tells me a little bit about who's looking in.

    Reader numbers aren't huge, but I've impressed by this blog's global reach. According to Sitemeter, Propolis has been read in 17 of the world's timezones (yes, Robin, there are 24 time zones — didn't your geographical father ever explain?).

    So which timezones are missing? Come in Samoa, Tahiti, and Anchorage. Where are you, Sao Paolo, South Georgia and the Azores? Calling Nairobi. Your time is up.

    STOP PRESS: 7/7/04 Nairobi has just called in. We're up to 18 time zones.
    12/7/04 Anchorage has just checked in — that's 19.
    14/7/04 Samoa has turned up. The big score!
    19/7/04 Welcome the Azores! 21 today!

    Monday, July 05, 2004

    Reaching the parts that other varroa treatments can't

    A new varroa control technique has been developed not a million miles from here — in Southampton UK.

    Exosect, a spin-out company from Southampton University, has developed a novel way of distributing varroa-controlling treatments around a colony using powder that can be made to stick to the bee by exploiting its natural electrostatic charge. The wax powder used as the carrier medium is a harmless food grade substance and, when charged, can be mixed with oils, such as thymol, used in some anti-mite products.

    Speaking to BBC News Online, Georgina Kemp, spokeswoman for Exosect, said that because the powder sticks to the bees it spreads all over the hive, including inside comb cells where bees develop.
    "When the mites are actively developing, they do so in the brood cells where the bee larvae are growing," she added.

    "One of the problems with other products is that they rely on vapour action so once the brood is capped they are no longer effective."

    By contrast, she said, the powder got right into the brood cells.
    It seems that the powder is still in trial phase using thymol as the anti-varroa treatment. Efficacy is described as “good”. Integrated Pest Management (rotation of treatments) is still the order of the day, however.


    C'mon you bees — and other social insects

    It's almost become a cliche to use bees in certain types of advertising, but here is a selection of logos of sporting bees, wasps and hornets:
    Charlotte Hornets basketball team
    Georgia Tech American Football team
    Greensboro Hornets baseball team
    and my favourite the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees ice hockey team.
    There's also the Killer Bee golf club — it's a driver and it's illegal because the shaft is too long, the head is too big and its face is too like a trampoline — what we might call a hive on a stick.

    Sunday, July 04, 2004

    Get outta this town

    Here's a story that's barely credible: bee hives in Crestline, Ohio, USA may be outlawed. And City officials admit that the legislation is aimed at one man, David Duncan, a beekeeper of more than twenty years:
    “A person who lives close to Duncan is allergic to bees and asked the city to outlaw beekeeping,” said Mark Milliron, assistant safety director of Crestline, a city with about 5,000 residents west of Mansfield. “We realized we had no legislation about beekeeping, so we drew one up.”
    The proposed law has already had one reading, and if it passes two more will become law, perhaps next month. Similar laws exist in a few other towns.

    Perhaps the City Fathers should put up a net to stop all stinging insects entering their patch — maybe something like the bubble over Seahaven in The Truman Show.

    Saturday, July 03, 2004

    The world's oldest man was a beekeeper for 90 years

    Unless something horrible has happened recently, the world's oldest man is a former beekeeper. According to the Guinness World Records, Fred Hale Sr was born on 1 December 1890 and became the oldest man in the world on 5 March 2004, at the age of 113 years 95 days.

    A resident of Syracruse, New York, he has lived through 21 US Presidents. He gave up driving when he was 104, and seems to have given up beekeeping at the age of 107. Fred eats at least a teaspoon each of honey and pollen every day — washed down with the occasional breakfast nip of whisky! I do hope it's the whisky that has caused his longevity.

    Friday, July 02, 2004

    Chinese honey market

    There's a new report about honey production in China that contains some illuminating snippets: Chinese honey supply is up, internal consumption is up, but the outlook for the China’s honey exports does not look so promising because of “rising global competitiveness”. China currently has a 40% slice of the world honey market.

    But here is a really interesting line:
    In an effort to maintain this rise in consumption Chinese honey producers are currently trying to produce mature honey, which contains more nutrients than immature honey.
    I'd heard stories that in China unsealed (unripe) honey is extracted and then ripened artificially by dryers. I'd also heard that this may give Chinese honey its distinctive metallic taste. Until now, I treated the stories with some scepticism, but it appears the practice is widespread. I can't quite figure out the benefit of such early extraction.

    The report also seems to say that the ban on Chinese honey by some countries has now been lifted:
    In 2002 low levels of the antibiotic chloranphericol were discovered in Chinese honey — amongst other food products — creating problems for exports to both North America and Europe. Canada, the US, the UK and other countries immediately imposed a ban on a variety of Chinese food products, which was lifted after later consignments were shown to free of the substance.
    I can't say I've noticed any Chinese honey blends back on the shelves of UK shops. Has the ban really been lifted? UPDATE: see this.