Bees Making Less Honey

Bee Culture Magazine, January 27th, 2024

Why are bees making less honey? Study reveals clues in five decades of data

The study found that climate conditions and soil productivity — the ability of soil to support crops based on its physical, chemical and biological properties — were some of the most important factors in estimating honey yields. Credit: Arwin Neil Baichoo/Unsplash. All Rights Reserved.

By Katie Bohn

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Honey yields in the U.S. have been declining since the 1990s, with honey producers and scientists unsure why, but a new study by Penn State researchers has uncovered clues in the mystery of the missing honey.

Using five decades of data from across the U.S., the researchers analyzed the potential factors and mechanisms that might be affecting the number of flowers growing in different regions — and, by extension, the amount of honey produced by honey bees.

The study, recently published in the journal Environmental Research, found that changes in honey yields over time were connected to herbicide application and land use, such as fewer land conservation programs that support pollinators. Annual weather anomalies also contributed to changes in yields.

The data, pulled from several open-source databases including those operated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service and USDA Farm Service Agency, included such information as average honey yield per honey bee colony, land use, herbicide use, climate, weather anomalies and soil productivity in the continental United States.

Overall, researchers found that climate conditions and soil productivity — the ability of soil to support crops based on its physical, chemical and biological properties — were some of the most important factors in estimating honey yields. States in both warm and cool regions produced higher honey yields when they had productive soils.

The eco-regional soil and climate conditions set the baseline levels of honey production, while changes in land use, herbicide use and weather influenced how much is produced in a given year, the researchers summarized.

Gabriela Quinlan, the lead author on the study and a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral research fellow in Penn State’s Department of Entomology and Center for Pollinator Research, said she was inspired to conduct the study after attending beekeeper meetings and conferences and repeatedly hearing the same comment: You just can’t make honey like you used to.

According to Quinlan, climate became increasingly tied to honey yields in the data after 1992.

“It’s unclear how climate change will continue to affect honey production, but our findings may help to predict these changes,” Quinlan said. “For example, pollinator resources may decline in the Great Plains as the climate warms and becomes more moderate, while resources may increase in the mid-Atlantic as conditions become hotter.”

Co-author on the paper Christina Grozinger, Publius Vergilius Maro Professor of Entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, said that while scientists previously knew that many factors influence flowering plant abundance and flower production, prior studies were conducted in only one region of the U.S.

“What’s really unique about this study is that we were able to take advantage of 50 years of data from across the continental U.S.,” she said. “This allowed us to really investigate the role of soil, eco-regional climate conditions, annual weather variation, land use and land management practices on the availability of nectar for honey bees and other pollinators.”

One of the biggest stressors to pollinators is a lack of flowers to provide enough pollen and nectar for food, according to the researchers. Because different regions can support different flowering plants depending on climate and soil characteristics, they said there is growing interest in identifying regions and landscapes with enough flowers to make them bee friendly.

“A lot of factors affect honey production, but a main one is the availability of flowers,” she said. “Honey bees are really good foragers, collecting nectar from a variety of flowering plants and turning that nectar into honey. I was curious that if beekeepers are seeing less honey, does that mean there are fewer floral resources available to pollinators overall? And if so, what environmental factors were causing this change?”

For Quinlan, one of the most exciting findings was the importance of soil productivity, which she said is an under-explored factor in analyzing how suitable different landscapes are for pollinators. While many studies have examined the importance of nutrients in the soil, less work has been done on how soil characteristics like temperature, texture, structure — properties that help determine productivity — affect pollinator resources.

The researchers also found that decreases in soybean land and increases in Conservation Reserve Program land, a national conservation program that has been shown to support pollinators, both resulted in positive effects on honey yields.

Herbicide application rates were also important in predicting honey yields, potentially because removing flowering weeds can reduce nutritional sources available to bees.

“Our findings provide valuable insights that can be applied to improve models and design experiments to enable beekeepers to predict honey yields, growers to understand pollination services, and land managers to support plant–pollinator communities and ecosystem services,” Quinlan said.

To learn more about the land use, floral resources and weather in specific areas, visit the Beescape tool on the Center for Pollinator Research website.

David A.W. Miller, associate professor of wildlife population ecology, was also a co-author on the study.

The NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology Program and the USDA National Institute Food and Agriculture’s Pollinator Health Program and Data Science for Food and Agricultural Systems Programs helped support this research.

We are here to share current happenings in the bee industry. Bee Culture gathers and shares articles published by outside sources. For more information about this specific article, please visit the original publish source: Why are bees making less honey? Study reveals clues in five decades of data | Penn State University (psu.edu)

Honey Bee Health Coalition New Nutrition Guide

Beekeepers now have a valuable resource at their fingertips with the release of the latest comprehensive Honey Bee Nutrition Guide from the Honey Bee Health Coalition. The guide is a review and manual for supplemental feeding in bee hives, giving beekeepers a simple approach to the complex and nuanced world of honey bee nutrition.

Honey bee nutrition varies not only seasonally but also based on the colony’s unique needs and beekeeping practices. From the nutritional demands of larvae to those of the foragers, each stage requires specific attention. This guide serves as a roadmap for beekeepers to meet these diverse needs.

Foragers, the scouts of the bee world, play a crucial role in sourcing floral resources such as pollen and nectar. In the absence of these natural resources, supplemental feeding becomes essential. The Honey Bee Nutrition guide delves into the various considerations beekeepers must account for when deciding on supplemental feeding strategies, including the colony’s brood status, seasonal nutritional needs, and food reserves in the hives.

The guide also reviews the history of supplementing colonies with diets other than pollen, which dates back centuries. It traces this history, highlighting pivotal moments such as Amos Ives Root’s tests with various supplements in 1875 and the foundational research by Mykola H. Haydak and Elton W. Herbert Jr. in the United States. The guide also emphasizes the importance of understanding the limitations of artificial supplements compared to the nutritional richness of natural pollen.

The Honey Bee Nutrition guide also includes a series of interviews with six commercial beekeepers who summarize what works for them when providing supplemental feeding to their honey bee colonies throughout the year, depending on their location and their beekeeping practices. Download the guider here: https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/nutritionguide/

Researchers Discover That Bees Can Make Decisions Better and Faster Than We Do

By Macquarie University September 4, 2023

A new study reveals how we could design robots to think like bees.

Honey bees excel in weighing effort against reward and risk, quickly determining which flowers can provide sustenance for their colony. A study recently published in the journal eLife illustrates how eons of evolution have fine-tuned honey bees to make swift judgments while minimizing danger.

This research sheds light on the workings of insect minds, the evolution of human cognition, and offers insights for improved robot design.

The paper presents a model of decision-making in bees and outlines the paths in their brains that enable fast decision-making. The study was led by Professor Andrew Barron from Macquarie University in Sydney, and Dr. HaDi MaBouDi, Neville Dearden, and Professor James Marshall from the University of Sheffield.

“Decision-making is at the core of cognition,” says Professor Barron. “It’s the result of an evaluation of possible outcomes, and animal lives are full of decisions. A honey bee has a brain smaller than a sesame seed. And yet she can make decisions faster and more accurately than we can. A robot programmed to do a bee’s job would need the backup of a supercomputer.

“Today’s autonomous robots largely work with the support of remote computing,” Professor Barron continues. “Drones are relatively brainless, they have to be in wireless communication with a data center. This technology path will never allow a drone to truly explore Mars solo – NASA’s amazing rovers on Mars have traveled about 75 kilometers in years of exploration.”

Bees need to work quickly and efficiently, finding nectar and returning it to the hive while avoiding predators. They need to make decisions. Which flower will have nectar? While they’re flying, they’re only prone to aerial attack. When they land to feed, they’re vulnerable to spiders and other predators, some of which use camouflage to look like flowers.

“We trained 20 bees to recognize five different colored ‘flower disks’. Blue flowers always had sugar syrup,” says Dr. MaBouDi. “Green flowers always had quinine [tonic water] with a bitter taste for bees. Other colors sometimes had glucose.”

“Then we introduced each bee to a ‘garden’ where the ‘flowers’ just had distilled water. We filmed each bee then watched more than 40 hours of video, tracking the path of the bees and timing how long it took them to make a decision.

“If the bees were confident that a flower would have food, then they quickly decided to land on it taking an average of 0.6 seconds),” says Dr. MaBouDi. “If they were confident that a flower would not have food, they made a decision just as quickly.”

If they were unsure, then they took much more time – on average 1.4 seconds – and the time reflected the probability that a flower had food.

The team then built a computer model from first principles aiming to replicate the bees’ decision-making process. They found the structure of their computer model looked very similar to the physical layout of a bee brain.

“Our study has demonstrated complex autonomous decision-making with minimal neural circuitry,” says Professor Marshall. “Now we know how bees make such smart decisions, we are studying how they are so fast at gathering and sampling information. We think bees are using their flight movements to enhance their visual system to make them better at detecting the best flowers.”

AI researchers can learn much from insects and other ‘simple’ animals. Millions of years of evolution have led to incredibly efficient brains with very low power requirements. The future of AI in the industry will be inspired by biology, says Professor Marshall, who co-founded Opteran, a company that reverse-engineers insect brain algorithms to enable machines to move autonomously, like nature.

Reference: “How honey bees make fast and accurate decisions” by HaDi MaBouDi, James AR Marshall, Neville Dearden and Andrew B Barron, 27 June 2023, eLife.
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.86176

https://scitechdaily.com/researchers-discover-that-bees-can-make-decisions-better-and-faster-than-we-do/

Patrolling honey bees expose spread of antimicrobial resistance

by Macquarie University

Bees could become biomonitors, checking their neighborhoods to determine how far antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has spread, according to research by Macquarie University scientists.

At least 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which estimates that 10 million people will die due to AMR by 2050. But we have few tools to keep track of its spread in the environment.

The study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, recruited honey bees, which can be a “crowdsourced” environmental proxy as they interact with contaminants in soil, dust, air, water and pollen while they forage.

“Bees interact with human environments, so they are a really good indicator of pollution that may present of risk of harm to humans,” says first author Kara Fry, an Adjunct Research Fellow at Macquarie University’s School of Natural Sciences and also Senior Research and Development Officer at the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA).

“Bees only live for about four weeks, so whatever you’re seeing in a bee is something that is in the environment right now.”

Fry and lead author Professor Mark Taylor, who is the EPA Victoria Chief Environmental Scientist, examined 18 hives from citizen-scientist beekeepers who had hives across Greater Sydney in a mixture of land-use types.

She sampled eight bees from each hive to see what was in their digestive tracts.

Specifically, she was looking for genetic elements called Class 1 integrons, key drivers of resistance to antibiotics. She also looked for toxic metals such as lead.

“As humans have released their own bacteria into the environment, Class 1 integrons have spread into other natural systems. You can now find them on every continent, even Antarctica. You can find them in really diverse spaces,” Fry says.

The study found that more than 80% of the bees sampled across all hives were positive for one or more antimicrobial resistance targets, surprising the researchers by showing that AMR is prevalent irrespective of the land-use context.

Fry and her team expected to find more integrons in more densely populated areas. Instead, they found them distributed over an extremely wide area but with higher concentrations around waterbodies such as dams and lakes.

“We suspect the presence of local waterbodies that collect run-off is a critical source of AMR contamination,” Fry says. “Everything from the catchment drains down, then it stays in that system.

“As anticipated, our study data showed that residential and industrial areas were impacted very heavily with environmental lead, with greater concentrations in more densely populated areas. By contrast, AMR was much more pervasive across the whole urban environment.”

While being able to monitor pollutants and determine where their concentrations are highest could provide an invaluable tool to understand where to implement clean-ups, the discovery of how widespread AMR is also provides a wake-up call for people to alter their behavior.

“The main drivers of AMR are the misuse and overuse of antimicrobial products. The message from this research reinforces the need to use antibiotics when needed and as directed, and to dispose of them appropriately by returning unused medicines to your pharmacy,” Fry says.

“In addition, we should also take a look at the products we are using in our homes and avoid those with added antimicrobial agents.”

The researchers are now investigating the use of bees to detect other environmental contaminants as well as exploring whether certain bird species could be used in biomonitoring.

https://phys.org/news/2023-08-patrolling-honey-bees-expose-antimicrobial.html

Updates to Chapter 131, “The Bee Laws.” Effective September 1st, 2023

HB 4538 passed in our recent legislative session and will take effect September 1st, 2023. Many thanks from Texas beekeepers to Representative Kyle Kacal and State Senator Morgan LaMantia for their work in making this happen.

Apiary Registration Application – was Free – Registration will not be required, but if requested, a $35 fee will be assessed. Registration will be valid through the end of the fiscal year and must be renewed each September 1st. All current REGISTRATIONS WILL BE NULL AND VOID ON SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2023!

Intrastate Application (county to county) – was $35 – Intrastate permitting will be repealed. No longer will there be restrictions on moving bees across county lines. Beekeepers doing live removals will still be required to pay the $35 fee for the annual registration, but it will be a different form as opposed to the Removal Transportation Form.

Import/Export Application – was $100 for each state the beekeeper is bringing bees from & $75 for each state the beekeeper is shipping bees to – Beekeepers moving bees into and out of Texas will no longer have to do separate Importation and Exportation permits. One Interstate permit will replace these. This permit will be an annual fiscal year (September 1st – August 31st) operational permit with a fee of $250. Beekeepers can then come and go with bees.

Apiary Inspection (requested by beekeeper) – was $75 – increases to $100

Registration of Apiary Equipment Brands Application – $10 (no change…!)

Bee Removal Transportation Application – $35 (no change…!)

Queen Breeder Inspection – $300 (no change…!)

Apiary definition will have “six or more” struck.

Beekeeper – means a person who owns, leases, possesses, controls, or manages one or more colonies of bees for any personal or commercial use. In situations involving Ag Valuation/Exemption, the beekeeper and/or landowner can decide who should register.

The law changes the registration to “beekeeper” registration, not “apiary” registration. The focus will still have space to place apiary location(s).

Honey Labeling Laws

As we get ready for our honey extraction season, we wanted to pull together a few documents about honey labeling.

1. Food Manufacturer License
From the DSHS Foods Group page in Frequently Asked Questions https://dshs.texas.gov/foods/faqs.aspx#:~:text=Beekeeper%20Honey%20Production,
“Beekeeper Honey Production Frequently Asked Questions – Added July 16, 2020
• Did anything change for beekeepers selling honey in Texas with the adoption of the updated 25 TAC 229.210-225 Subchapter N, Current GMP and GWP in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food that became effective August 2, 2017?
Yes, beekeepers that sell raw honey produced from their own bees/hives are “farms” and are exempt from licensing as food manufacturers when engaged in allowable farm activities. Examples of allowable farm activities include extracting and bottling raw honey whether for retail or wholesale. DSHS adopts the clarification provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its Questions and Answers Regarding Food Facility Registration (Seventh Edition): Guidance for Industry in Question B.1.19.
• Is pasteurization of raw honey an allowable farm activity?
No, pasteurizing raw honey is a manufacturing activity that requires a license as a food manufacturer. DSHS adopts the clarification provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its Questions and Answers Regarding Food Facility Registration (Seventh Edition): Guidance for Industry in Question C.4.3.
• Are there any laws that apply to beekeeper raw honey producers?
Yes, while beekeepers harvesting raw honey will not be required to license with DSHS as long as they are only engaged in allowable farm activities, harvesting operations that conduct filtering, packaging, and labeling of honey are still subject to the adulteration and misbranding provisions of Texas Health and Safety Code 431. Texas Agriculture Code, Title 6, Chapter 131, Bees and Honey, Subchapter E, Labeling and Sale of Honey gives DSHS regulatory authority over the labeling of honey. DSHS will investigate complaints of adulterated honey and mislabeled honey and take appropriate compliance action.
• Can a beekeeper blend other raw honey into raw honey from their own bees/hives?
Yes, as long as some of the raw honey is from the beekeeper’s own bees/hives, a beekeeper can blend other raw honey with the beekeeper’s honey. If you blend honey no longer considered raw, like pasteurized honey, blending is no longer an exempt farm activity and a food manufacturer license is required.
• Is allowing raw honey to dry so that it crystallizes an allowable farm activity for beekeepers?
Yes, a beekeeper drying raw honey from their bees/hives is an allowable farm activity as long as there is no additional manufacturing/processing (other than packaging and labeling). Packaging and labeling raw agricultural commodities are allowable farm activities.
• If a beekeeper whips air into their raw honey to sell as whipped honey, would this be considered manufacturing requiring the firm to license as a food manufacturer?
Yes, whipping air into raw honey is a manufacturing activity that requires a food manufacturer license.”
• Additional FDA Guidance:
Draft Guidance for Industry: Classification of Activities as Harvesting, Packing, Holding, or Manufacturing/Processing for Farms and Facilities
Exempt Farm Activity:
Packing- Filtering for safe/effective packing (e.g., filtering honey to remove hive debris)
Filtering RACs for safe/effective packing (e.g., filtering honey to remove hive debris) is a packing activity.

2. Retail Permits, Cottage Foods, Small Honey Producers
Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 437 REGULATION OF FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS, RETAIL FOOD STORES, MOBILE FOOD UNITS, AND ROADSIDE FOOD VENDORS
• Small honey production operation restrictions: amount produced, uninspected kitchen label, where sold.
o Small honey production operation defined: H&SC 437.001(7)
o H&SC 437.0197-437.0199
• Cottage food production operation
o Cottage food production operation defined: H&SC 437.001(2-b)
o H&SC 437.0191-437.0193

If you need more information, please contact the DSHS PSQA Unit at 512-834-6670 or foods.regulatory@dshs.texas.gov.

Davonna Koebrick, LMSW, RS
Food Safety Officer/MFRPS Coordinator
Texas Rapid Response Team/Texas Food Safety Taskforce
Division for Consumer Protection Texas Department of State Health Services
Davonna.koebrick@dshs.texas.gov       (512) 231-5783
www.dshs.state.tx.us/foods

3.  The Texas Agricultural Code 131 identifies very specific honey label requirements.  The list below is provided by the Texas Beekeepers Association to its members as a reference, and is not a replacement or substitution for current laws or requirements by the State of Texas or any federal agency requirements for items required on a beekeeper’s honey label.  For a complete list of all current Texas beekeeping laws see Texas Agricultural Code 131

  • SUB-CHAPTER E. LABELING AND SALE OF HONEY
Sec. 131.081. USE OF “HONEY” ON LABEL.A person may not label, sell, or keep, offer, or expose for sale a product identified on its label as “honey,” “liquid or extracted honey,” “strained honey,” or “pure honey” unless the product consists exclusively of pure honey.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
  • Sec. 131.082. USE OF BEE, HIVE, OR COMB DESIGN.A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that resembles honey and that has on its label a picture or drawing of a bee, hive, or comb unless the product consists exclusively of pure honey.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
  • Sec. 131.083. SALE OF IMITATION HONEY.A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that resembles honey and is identified on its label as “imitation honey.”
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983. label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that consists of honey mixed with another ingredient unless:(1) the product bears a label with a list of ingredients; and (2) “honey” appears in the list of  ingredients in the same size type of print as the other ingredients.
  • Sec. 131.084. SALE OF HONEY MIXTURES.

    (a) A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that consists of honey mixed with another ingredient unless:

    (1) the product bears a label with a list of ingredients; and

    (2) “honey” appears in the list of ingredients in the same size type of print as the other ingredients.

    – See more at: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/txstatutes/AG/6/A/131/E/131.084#sthash.JiLAWhLF.dpuf

    (b) A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that contains honey mixed with another ingredient and contains in the product name “honey” in a larger size of type or print or in a more prominent position than the other words in the product name.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.

  • Sec. 131.123. LABELING OR SALE OF HONEY.(a) A person commits an offense if the person violates a provision of Subchapter E of this chapter.(b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.

2021 TBA Honey Show Winners

We had a great turnout of entries for the 2021 TBA Honey Show. Thank you to everyone that entered, to the TBA Honey Show Chair, Robin Young, all the judges, and all the Honey Show volunteers.

The TBA 2021 Honey Show

Extracted Honey Light Amber
First: Jimmy Middlebrooks
Second: Don Whitaker
Third: Selina & Evan Tabor

Extracted Honey Medium Amber
First: Tanya Phillips
Second: Katrina Semones
Third: Beth Derr & Ron Gumm

Extracted Honey Dark Amber
First: Glen Kveton
Second: Rebecca Vaughn
Third: Glynn Smith

Creamed Honey
First: Rebecca Vaughn

Chunk Honey
First: Danessa Yaschuk
Second: Katrina Semones

Comb Honey – Half Hog
First: Gabriel Steward

Comb Honey – Cut
First: Danessa Yaschuk
Second: Katrina Semones

Black Jar – Judged
First: Gail Kerley
Second: Rebecca Vaughn

Wax Plain Block
First: Greg Rogers
Second: Danessa Yaschuk

Candles
First: Rebecca Vaughn
Second: Greg Rogers
Third: Danessa Yaschuk

Wax Plain Block
First: Greg Rogers
Second: Danessa Yaschuk

Photo – Close Up
First: Greg Rogers
Second: Lori Hatherley
Third: Stephen Hatherley

Photo – Scenic
First: Danessa Yaschuk
Second: Nanette Davis
Third: Rebecca Thomas

Photo – Portrait
First: Theresa Kveton
Second: Greg Rogers
Third: Rebecca Thomas

Beekeeping Arts & Crafts
First: Theresa Kveton
Second: Cari Krauter
Third: Dodie Stillman

Bee Box Art Contest
First: Teri Albright
Second: Rebecca Thomas

Beekeeper Gadgets
First: Dan Brantner
Second: Lori Hatherley

Traditional Mead – Semi-Sweet: Zachary Hancock

Traditional Mead – Sweet: BrittanyFetterman

Fruit Mead – Cyser (Apple & Honey): Zachary Hancock

Specialty Mead – Historical Recipes: Michael Bernoudy

Specialty Mead – Experimental Mead: Keith Lawson

2021 Best of Show Awards
Black Jar – People’s Choice: Rich Beggs

Best of Honey: Jimmy Middlebrooks

Best Small-Scale Honey: Jimmy Middlebrooks

Best Sideliner Honey: Danessa Yaschuk

Best of Art: Thresa Kveton

Best of Gadgets: Dan Brantner

Best of Mead: Brittany Fetterman

Ann Harman Award of Excellence in Beekeeping: Greg Rogers

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Selling Honey Information

1. Food Manufacturer License
From the DSHS Foods Group page in Frequently Asked Questions https://dshs.texas.gov/foods/faqs.aspx#:~:text=Beekeeper%20Honey%20Production,
512-834-6670
“Beekeeper Honey Production Frequently Asked Questions – Added July 16, 2020
• Did anything change for beekeepers selling honey in Texas with the adoption of the updated 25 TAC 229.210-225 Subchapter N, Current GMP and GWP in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food that became effective August 2, 2017?
Yes, beekeepers that sell raw honey produced from their own bees/hives are “farms” and are exempt from licensing as food manufacturers when engaged in allowable farm activities. Examples of allowable farm activities include extracting and bottling raw honey whether for retail or wholesale. DSHS adopts the clarification provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its Questions and Answers Regarding Food Facility Registration (Seventh Edition): Guidance for Industry in Question B.1.19.
• Is pasteurization of raw honey an allowable farm activity?
No, pasteurizing raw honey is a manufacturing activity that requires a license as a food manufacturer. DSHS adopts the clarification provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its Questions and Answers Regarding Food Facility Registration (Seventh Edition): Guidance for Industry in Question C.4.3.
• Are there any laws that apply to beekeeper raw honey producers?
Yes, while beekeepers harvesting raw honey will not be required to license with DSHS as long as they are only engaged in allowable farm activities, harvesting operations that conduct filtering, packaging, and labeling of honey are still subject to the adulteration and misbranding provisions of Texas Health and Safety Code 431. Texas Agriculture Code, Title 6, Chapter 131, Bees and Honey, Subchapter E, Labeling and Sale of Honey gives DSHS regulatory authority over the labeling of honey. DSHS will investigate complaints of adulterated honey and mislabeled honey and take appropriate compliance action.
• Can a beekeeper blend other raw honey into raw honey from their own bees/hives?
Yes, as long as some of the raw honey is from the beekeeper’s own bees/hives, a beekeeper can blend other raw honey with the beekeeper’s honey. If you blend honey no longer considered raw, like pasteurized honey, blending is no longer an exempt farm activity and a food manufacturer license is required.
• Is allowing raw honey to dry so that it crystallizes an allowable farm activity for beekeepers?
Yes, a beekeeper drying raw honey from their bees/hives is an allowable farm activity as long as there is no additional manufacturing/processing (other than packaging and labeling). Packaging and labeling raw agricultural commodities are allowable farm activities.
• If a beekeeper whips air into their raw honey to sell as whipped honey, would this be considered manufacturing requiring the firm to license as a food manufacturer?
Yes, whipping air into raw honey is a manufacturing activity that requires a food manufacturer license.”
• Additional FDA Guidance:
Draft Guidance for Industry: Classification of Activities as Harvesting, Packing, Holding, or Manufacturing/Processing for Farms and Facilities
Exempt Farm Activity:
Packing- Filtering for safe/effective packing (e.g., filtering honey to remove hive debris)
Filtering RACs for safe/effective packing (e.g., filtering honey to remove hive debris) is a packing activity.

2. Retail Permits, Cottage Foods, Small Honey Producers:
Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 437 REGULATION OF FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS, RETAIL FOOD STORES, MOBILE FOOD UNITS, AND ROADSIDE FOOD VENDORS
• Small honey production operation restrictions: amount produced, uninspected kitchen label, where sold.
o Small honey production operation defined: H&SC 437.001(7)
o H&SC 437.0197-437.0199
• Cottage food production operation
o Cottage food production operation defined: H&SC 437.001(2-b)
o H&SC 437.0191-437.0193

3. If you need more information, please contact the DSHS PSQA Unit at 512-834-6670 or foods.regulatory@dshs.texas.gov.

Davonna Koebrick, LMSW, RS
Food Safety Officer/MFRPS Coordinator
Texas Rapid Response Team/Texas Food Safety Taskforce
Division for Consumer Protection Texas Department of State Health Services
Davonna.koebrick@dshs.texas.gov       (512) 231-5783
www.dshs.state.tx.us/foods

Tax Deductions for Vehicles Over 6,000lbs

Author: Bojan Radulovic

If you operate a business, searching for tax deductions is probably something that becomes a part of your daily regime as the April 15th deadline approaches each year. In case your business is or includes some form of transportation, however, there is a good chance that you ran into specific deductions for vehicles weighing over 6,000 pounds. If not, this will be an opportunity to learn the basics of this seemingly complex tax benefit that millions of taxpayers are unaware of. So, how much are you allowed to take as an expense on heavy vehicles placed in service?

Photo by Basil Furgala. Posted https://www.sare.org/publications/managing-alternative-pollinators/chapter-one-the-business-of-pollination/pollination-costs-and-benefits-almonds/
How Section 179 Works

The easiest way to get some money back is to rely on something known as accelerated depreciation. In general, the IRS allows your business to deduct $1 million worth of Section 179 deductions in any given tax year. While this is subject to a slew of strict requirements, it remains one of the most beneficial tax breaks that a business relying on heavy assets could get. Before getting into the various limits, let us analyze the exact types of assets that are eligible under this category:

  • Acquired for business use
  • Acquired by purchase (not gifts)

Once you get past those first few requirements, you will drill down into the details of the asset to truly ascertain if you can deduct it or not. Those details are based on determining whether the asset is:

  • Tangible personal property such as machinery and equipment, livestock, property in a building
  • Off-the-shelf computer software
  • Storage facilities
  • Qualified real property including improvements to the building or internal structures of it

The maximum deduction that you can claim under Section 179 is $1 million.

See the rest of the story:  https://www.gettaxhub.com/tax-deductions-for-vehicles-over-6000lbs/
**Please note-this article is a general outline. You should talk with a tax professional for advice for your company.**

The Bee Informed Partnership publishes two beneficial publications

The Bee Informed Partnership publishes two beneficial publications for beekeepers:

  • BIP’s 2nd edition of Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Honey Bee Diseases, a 66-page spiral bound manual that includes large detailed color images of diseases, disease descriptions and how to treat or address some of the major diseases that honey bees face. This manual is in both English and Spanish, and is a great resource for clubs, crew training, or just having on hand for in-field diagnosis.
  • Commercial Beekeeping: A Field Guide is a full color pocket guide, and has been three years in the making with over 260 pages of information. This comprehensive publication includes a wealth of material that covers everything beekeepers want to know to improve their beekeeping and take their operations to the next level.

If you are interested in obtaining these publications, please check with your favorite bee supplier or BIP’s Pollen Basket to receive a copy as a donation thank you gift.  If you are a bee supplier interested in selling these publications, please use our contact form.

Publications