Yukon Honey Origins Study 2021

Yukon Honey Origins Participant Form

The information collected will be used as part of this study and no personal information will be shared. The hive management and location data will be used in this study. A $50 fee is required to pay for supplies and help fund this project. Each Participant will receive a detailed NMR report and pollen profile for each submitted sample.

Registration Form Link

Project Pages:

Making Pollen Slides From Honey Samples

Yukon Pollen Reference Library (In Progress)

Project Scope Below

Abstract:

Yukon is blessed with an abundance of native and non-native nectar producing plants. We have two main nectar flows where bees can produce extra honey for the beekeepers. The origin of these honey is unknown or guessed. Another little known honey crop is derived from honeydew (by-product of our many sap sucking insects). Honey lovers in many parts of the world prize forest honeys for their unique flavours and other beneficial properties.

However most Yukon beekeepers have little knowledge on how to identify the origin of their honey. Honeydew Honey is great for the beekeeper but will cause overwintering issues and may cause colony failure.

This project seeks to collect one or two honey samples from interested beekeepers in order to identify botanical sources, identify geographical indicators and use the results to improve our hive management approaches. The results will also identify any honeys showing signs of adulteration (fake honey due to feeding sugar syrups). In our case, this would likely be due to beekeeper error vs on purpose.

We propose the use of NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) testing and the use of basic melissopalynology (study of pollens in honey) to learn more about Yukon honeys. The results can then be used to potentially market honey as per botanical origin, identify any special honey properties, improve winter management (understand suitability of honey as winter stores) and possibly use our findings to market some of our speciality honeys on an international scale.

Yukon Beekeeping at a glance:

2-3 small commercial beekeepers (10-40 hives) (fireweed honey) and 20-30 small hobbyist

Est 150-200 hives territory wide (60-75% overwinter success)

4000 lbs / 1,800 kg of honey production (Increasing)

Most honey is sold farm gate style

Local Price: $12 to $19 per pound

No approved CFIA honey processing facility to allow export of honey outside territory

Most honey branded as “Wildflower”

Return on Investment of this study (Industry & for Individual Beekeeper)

Increase Product Profitability:

  • Keep the Yukon honey market free of adulterated honey

  • Identify niche market for specialty honey

  • Effectively label Yukon honey with correct botanical sources

  • Increase the business case to have a CFIA certified honey house in the Yukon

  • Identify important native nectar sources for potential use in agricultural settings (nectar forage, development of native seed bank for agricultural community (beekeepers) and for reclamation project use. Request approval as approved Ag crop.

  • Identify best non-native nectar source for possibility of use as an approved Ag crop.

Improve overwintering:

  • Typical starter colony is $350/nuc + time and material invested $200-$400/colony.

  • Better wintering allows beekeeper to target June honey flow, split their colonies (increase numbers internally) increase revenues & lower operating costs

Background:

I have been testing and analyzing my honey for the past four years. I have sent four honey samples to Dr Awram lab in BC for analysis via NMR. The results have allowed me to better understand the composition of my honey, potential botanical sources and get a better understanding of honeydew honey which is common in rural Yukon. I have used this knowledge to improve my wintering techniques (>90% wintering success).

In the last 3 years, I have used microscopy to understand bee diseases in my apiary and the botanical origin of their protein sources (pollens). Recently I have started re-sampling old honeys for pollen and HDE (Honeydew Elements) to determine botanical origin. The NMR results from my honey provides me with the chemical composition such as simple & complex sugars, organic acids, amino acids and several special indicators (medicinal property potential). I have started merging the data to get a better understanding of our honey landscape.

Study Objectives:

Send a honey sample for NMR testing to get a Yukon base line and understand regional differences (Urban/Rural)

Include 3 supermarket brands for product comparison (Bee Maid, No Name and Import)

Identify potential Yukon niche markets and honeys with potential beneficial properties

Identify hive management issues (i.e. feeding practices that would contaminate honey with sugar syrups)

Identify potential issues around honey being used for wintering

Identify pollens (plant family and several unique nectar plants) and honeydew elements in sampled honey

Beekeeper will receive NMR report and basic pollen or honeydew element profile

Results database (combined NMR and Pollen/HDE review) will be posted on our website

Method and Approach:

Target honey from multiple geographical locations in Yukon both in urban and rural areas.

100 ml jar honey will be sent to NMR laboratory ref 1.

Sediments from 3 x 10g honey will be mounted for analysis as per procedure in ref 2.

Pollens (family and species for dominant source and HDEs (6 categories) will be counted as per procedure in ref 2.

APC Absolute Pollen Counts will use a hemocytometer and follow approach in ref 3.

Data collection and statistical analysis approach will follow approach in ref 3.

Remaining honey will be stored in a cold room for future analysis


References:

1-True Honey Buzz, Dr. Peter Awram & Team,https://truehoney.buzz/

2-Beekeeper’s Guide for Pollen Identification of Honey, Mohammad El-Labban2020

3-Pollen Analysis of Natural Honeys from the Central Region of Shanxi, North China, Xiao-Yan Song, Yi-Feng Yao, Wu-De Yang

Analysis Overview:

•Data collection will collect hive management, local forage and honey production for the last 3 years

•Data collection and statistical analysis approach will follow approach in ref 3.

•NMR Results database will be merged to the pollen and HDE analysis results

•Analysis will look for relationships between chemical composition and botanical sources

•Analysis will highlight any adulterated samples

•Analysis will attempt to identify Blossom and Honeydew geographical indicators

•Analysis will review special chemical profiles for possible health benefits and niche markets


References:

1-True Honey Buzz, Dr. Peter Awram & Team,https://truehoney.buzz/

2-Beekeeper’s Guide for Pollen Identification of Honey, Mohammad El-Labban 2020

3-Pollen Analysis of Natural Honeys from the Central Region of Shanxi, North China,

Xiao-Yan Song, Yi-Feng Yao, Wu-De Yang