Corn Syrup Linked to Bee Colony Catastrophe

By Janice Arenofsky
Miller-McCune

High-fructose corn syrup is a hot topic in the national debate on diet, with opponents attacking it, as Daniel Engber has suggested, as unhealthy, unnatural and unappetizing, while corn refiners have volleyed back that it’s safe, natural and tasty. Now the food additive has been implicated in the decline of another maker of sweeteners — honeybees.

Although researcher Blaise W. LeBlanc agrees that colony collapse disorder in honeybees probably results from a variety of environmental stresses such as mites, pesticides and infections (like Nosema ceranae), his recent, published experiments target a toxic byproduct of high-fructose corn syrup, which besides being an ingredient in processed human foods such as cereals, whole wheat bread and beverages, is also used as a nutritional supplement for bees.

LeBlanc, a former research chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Tucson and currently an instructor at nearby Pima Community College, identified the byproduct hydroxymethylfurfural, or HMF, as a potential culprit in colony collapse disorder.

He found that under four different temperatures (ranging from 89 degrees F to 156 degrees F), high-fructose corn syrup degraded enough in bees to cause ulceration and dysentery; above 120 degrees F, HMF levels doubled and bee deaths multiplied dramatically as observed in colony collapse. The syndrome is a serious threat — it destroyed 28.6 percent of total managed U.S. honeybee colonies, according to a survey from fall 2008 to spring 2009, and that followed more severe losses the two winters before.

Read full post at Miller-McCune

6 responses to “Corn Syrup Linked to Bee Colony Catastrophe

  1. Chemtrails have a lot more to do with this problem than HFCS.

    • that may be; are we experiencing this sort of population decline among other insects? Wouldn’t chemtrails affect all or many insects as they do bees?

  2. But bees maintain their hive temperature around 93 degrees F or so. They wouldn’t let their hives get up to 120 if they were healthy. Could this be a combination of this chemical and, say, a mite infestation? If they are infested enough with tracheal mites, they can’t fly anymore. I could see them being really bogged down with the tracheal mites, the temp rising and then *boom*, death from this chemical. Otherwise I’m not sure how it would happen in the style of a colony collapse.

  3. A return to common sense, natural beekeeping, using as few chemicals or additives as possible, has to be the solution to the loss of the bees. As with all modern agriculture, the bees are just being pushed too hard – the inevitable result has followed.

  4. Why is nobody asking why HFCS is being fed to bees? How can that possibly be good for them when it’s clearly so bad for us?

  5. to Dana.
    yes the bees maintain a set temperature, but the HFCS may have been heated sitting in the sun, or while adding other ingredients, such as GM soymeal for eg. the plastic containers it comes in also wouldnt be helping matters either.
    To Readerle Phoenix: its cheap! its liquid, and it doesnt go crystalline after the bees store it and it gets cool, I guess that why so many are falling for it.
    In Aus we do NOT use it, we use sugar syrup, and that means mixing and fighting ants also. and as I mentioned, when the bees have saved it, but not used it, it crystallises in the combs and is hard for them to reuse. I clean frames, as part of my assistance and I know how much of a nusiance that hard packed sugar is to get rid of.
    We do NOT, or the smarter ones anyway! don’t, use ANY antibiotics or chemicals in the Hives at all, and disease and thats rare, is taken care of by Burning the entire hive immediately, or if its simpler like wax moth or hive beetle the options are Gamma ray irradiation, pricey! but effective.
    OR treating all the boxes and frames in a boiling wax dip, fiddly and time consuming but very effective, and it also protects the entire box etc from degradation by weather.
    the incredible damands made by transporting to pollinate means the bees get no time for nectar collection, and are disturbed regularly also disrupting their natural rythms, its nutso!
    Imaging if you were force moved avery 4 to 6 weeks? how stable and settled would you be?
    The whole commercial pollination industry itself is a recipie for disaster, add the GM and chemicals and no bloody wonder they die.
    I note our Aussie bees are doing fine, when we send them there, you kill them too. I thought about breeding queens for sale to Usa. then I thought…why? so they can die? sure theres good money in it, even though it is fiddly and not as easy as some think, but ethically? money means nothing. Queens should live for a couple of years at least, why would I send them to an early miserable death.
    Canadians simply kill ALL their hives come winter I am told, gee thats dumb!
    so whatever they buy in, is NOT climate adapted or even a strain that will be sure to survive anyway, and some strains are weak.
    Sanity would suggest removing them to a more temperate area for the snowy months and returning them in spring.

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