Report: Honey Authenticity Surveillance Results

Thursday 25 November 2021

Last week we tied up our series on the health benefits of hive products for both humans and for bees; some good information to keep in mind as we are getting into our typical ‘seasonal cold’ time of year. But of course, that’s not the main focus of the quickly approaching holiday season! With holidays comes giving and gifting and cozy cups of tea (or your hot beverage of choice), sweetened with some of the best honey if you’re lucky, Atlantic Canadian honey. Keep reading to learn more about the uniqueness and high quality of Canadian honey, especially that of Eastern Canada, and some thoughts and suggestions for beekeepers to keep in mind as we approach the holiday season.

We are excited to announce the release of the third video in our “Canadian Beekeeping Minutes” YouTube series of introductory beekeeping demonstrations. The winter season is a great opportunity for beekeepers to brush up on beekeeping practices and knowledge when we’re not running off our feet tending to our bees. Keep reading below to find out what this new demonstration is all about and where to find it.

Report: Honey Authenticity Surveillance Results*

(Originally published, in part, December 10, 2020: Blog No. 27)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) examines the authenticity of Canadian honey through sampling, testing and collaboration of honey samples obtained from all around the world. The purpose of this process is to, “detect misrepresentation of honey adulterated with foreign sugars in both domestic and imported honey sold in Canada.” To detect any foreign sugars, honey samples were tested using two analyses: Stable Isotope Ratio Analysis (SIRA) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) analyses. These analyses compare specific characteristics of the sugars present in the samples to known characteristics of other sugar molecules in order to determine the source and origin of the sugars in a sample. This reveals whether the sugars present in a honey sample are naturally occurring in honey or are foreign and have been added, thereby revealing any adulteration of the honey product.

In the latest roundup of honey for testing, a total of 275 samples of honey that is sold in Canada were collected from across the country. 127 of these samples were targeted samples from sources with a greater chance of not complying to product analysis, and the other 148 samples were gathered by an independent third party to provide an overall monitoring of the honey marketplace in Canada.

In the category of targeted sampling, 16/127 samples were domestic and 111/127 were imported, with adulteration analyses results revealing:

  • 110/127 samples were satisfactory
  • 17/127 samples were unsatisfactory
    • 16/17 of these were imported honey samples

In the category of marketplace monitoring, 103/148 samples were domestic and 45/148 were imported, with adulteration analyses results revealing:
  • 145/148 samples were satisfactory
  • 3/148 samples were unsatisfactory
    • 3/3 of these were imported honey samples

“As a result of CFIA’s actions, an estimated 83,461 kg of adulterated honey was prevented from being sold in the Canadian marketplace [over the most recent round of honey sampling and testing].”* As almost all of the adulterated honey samples were imported (except for one), which goes some way to demonstrate that Canadian honey is a quality, pure product.

* Government of Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency. "Report: Honey authenticity surveillance results (2019 to 2020)" Full report available ONLINE.

Appreciating Atlantic Honey

Beekeepers are often eager to share the experience of tasting their hard-earned harvest and watch the expression of the Atlantic honey experience spread across the taster’s face. But, by being a beekeeper that sells honey, there also comes a responsibility to ensure this specialty product, produced and harvested by our hardworking Maritime bees and beekeepers, is not taken for granted. Instead, honey should be enjoyed with the full appreciation and awareness that it deserves. This is especially important during the holiday season of giving and appreciating, which is often expressed in the way of gifts. But beekeepers beware, although gifting honey is a lovely way to share this unique Atlantic specialty, receivers should be made aware of the value of this special gift. Unfortunately, in today’s society, much of a product’s value seems to be indicated by its price tag. So, if beekeepers choose to gift honey but not communicate its unique value or selling honey for less than full market value a full appreciation may not be realized. We want to ensure there is no unintentional depreciation in the value of Atlantic honey. Getting beekeepers talking about this topic and working together on improving the appreciation of Atlantic honey is to everyone’s benefit.

Canadian Beekeeping Minutes Demonstration #3

Make sure you are prepared for managing varroa mites next beekeeping season! Watch this ATTTA demonstration to learn how to perform an alcohol wash varroa mite sample, HERE.

Varroa mite management is one of the most important parts of honey bee pest and disease management. Management of varroa mites begins with performing a round of varroa mite sampling to get a measurement of the present varroa mite infestation level. Watch this ATTTA demonstration for step-by-step instructions on how to sample for varroa mites using the alcohol wash method. For more information on varroa mite management, to make sure both beekeepers and hives are prepared with the appropriate tools and knowledge to combat varroa mites next beekeeping season, please see ATTTA’s factsheet: Varroa Mite Management Options for Atlantic Canada.

Connecting with ATTTA Specialists

If you’d like to connect with ATTTA specialists or learn more about our program, you can: