Honeybees are under threat from loss of habitat, intensive agriculture, improper use of pesticides and climate change. What is BeeFriendly Agtech? Read on…
Honey production touched 157 million pounds in the USA in 2019 and crossed 82.9 million pounds in Canada in the same year. Honey production crossed 700 million pounds in Asia steadily from 2018, making it the largest honey-producing market in the world.
These huge production numbers are indicative of the market sentiment and the growing popularity of honey across the world. Honey’s nutritional content and brand positioning as the ideal replacement for other sweeteners such as processed sugar is one of the major reasons for this explosion in demand.
But, if we have learned anything from 2019 and 2020 is that the information about what you eat is only valid if you know where it comes from. In short, food traceability is the validation you must seek when talking about the nutritional content of an agricultural commodity.
As a solution, countries across the world are launching food traceability programs. Food traceability solutions would educate consumers on how pure, organic,and sustainable their jar of honey is and reassure them of the purity of content. Perhaps, create awareness among consumers to buy honey made using Fair Trade and Organic regulations only.
Contrary to popular belief, bees do not make honey solely for human consumption. Bees require the honey they make for sustenance and their survival in winters. Conventional beekeeping practices involve a lot of human intervention right from wing clipping, swarming prevention, injection of oxalic acid to kill varroa mite and lack of diversity in the flowers they pollinate. Moreover, as per a recent FAO study, most of the food we have on our planet would not exist but for our tiny food heroes – the honeybees. Although, they are threatened, yet beekeepers around the globe are protecting them.
Yes, beekeeper communities worldwide are educating the farmers on the organic way of beekeeping. This method involves minimal intervention, not extracting all the honey from the hives, and exposing the bees to organically grown and diverse crops.
So, if you are guilty of picking up the fanciest jar on the retail aisle like the orange or maple-flavored honey, ‘Think Twice, Pick Wise’. These plush-honey bottles may be laced with chemical compositions to stabilize the sugar content, artificial flavorings worsen the ‘whole point of consuming honey’ and more often, do not use bee-friendly practices for production.
Purchasing from traceable sources with organic certification, preferably from local beekeeping communities, is the right way (that doesn’t harm the bees) to source and purchase honey. Many brands grown locally would not have big brand names, even ordinary-looking packaging, nevertheless, they would be produced by multiple-flora in diverse and rich controlled environments instead of being produced in a factory.
The local honey is always seasonal, produced in limited batches, controlled and monitored by fair and sustainable rearing practices. As a matter of fact, a happy bee gives happy nectar packed with all nutrients you need!
Honey adulteration is more common than you think for a simple reason – the demand for honey is on the rise, however, conventional beekeeping methodologies and the current state of the environment have significantly impacted the bee population and quality of honey.
Honey is essentially made of glucose and fructose with some other sugars. This manageable composition along with the lack of certifications, standards and traceability makes it easy to adulterate product giving room for mass manufacturing that ignores malpractices for better profitability.
Most beekeeping farms indulge in monocropping for economic reasons with pesticides for higher returns. These pesticides enter the bees’ system ruining their lifecycle and eventually honey. Most beekeepers also feed bees with honey-substitutes such as sugar syrup or corn syrup during winters, having extracted all the honey from hives.
Alternatively, many producers also mix sugar syrup or corn syrup directly into the honey to gain profit.
On a side note – In case you’re wondering, Yes! We are saying that the morning routine of warm water with lime and honey is zero nutrition, rather it is mostly sugar water.
The first priority of any beekeeper is the health of their beehive. Conventional beekeeping requires them to interfere at every step to get desired results. But, technology has now come to the aid of these bees whose very existence is threatened by this trade.
The market already has smart-hive monitoring tools that use artificial intelligence to inspect the hive’s health and report updates to your mobile app.
Real-time data is collected continuously throughout the day and helps breeders detect any alarming signs- swarming, healthy-sick-collapsed ratio, and if the queen bee is missing.
Some of the technology companies that have looked to improve the standard of beekeeping are: Buzzbox – The company allows beekeepers to monitor the temperature, humidity, and other physical parameters of the hive without opening the hive. This helps the beekeeper to monitor the beehive without disturbing the internal environment.
Another major issue plaguing beekeeping is the lack of diverse flora for the pollinators resulting in low bee health and poor honey quality. Beesmart suggests bee-friendly plants to the keepers for their bees.
Developed countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, and other countries in the European region have set up strict standards to ensure food safety. Any honey that has to be exported to these regions must carry certificates certifying:
1.The level of pesticides in the Honey is within permissible limits.
2.Honey does not contain any GMO-based products.
3.Antibiotic levels are within permissible limits.
4.Residue levels are within the prescribed limits.
Food traceability enabling samples for grocers to trace the product back to its origin.
One of the most nutritious and pure honey products in the market ‘Manuka Honey’ is a popular honey variety. The manufacturing company, Manuka Health, has enacted several procedures to ensure purity and food traceability for its consumers. Honey from Manuka health
● Carries a certificate of non-GMO compliance by a trusted third-party vendor.
● Has traceability enabled QR codes from Trust Codes so that you can now trace every jar of honey to a hive.
● Certification from Oritain – an organization that uses scientific methods to ensure traceability in products.
The Guatemalan government has also introduced new honey traceability measures. All farmers must be registered with the authorities to ensure traceability and quality control in all honey products exported to Central America, Europe, and the United States.
The program tracks the honey across stages such as production, harvest, delivery to plant, and packaging. This is part of the government’s ongoing effort in quality control and traceability enhancement of all agricultural produce.
Blockchain, AI, and big data are set to revolutionize food safety across the world. With honey traceability being a huge challenge, players like Sourcetrace, TrueSource Honey, Wipotec, and Srijan, etc. are making waves in the industry using their unique solutions.
They help consumers track each product back to the manufacturer and help businesses gain an edge in the market by demonstrating transparency and ethical practices.
Challenges in the beekeeping industry are ever-increasing with the need for standardized products and transparency in the supply chain.
Technological companies that leverage their core expertise in AI, blockchain, and other high-end technologies can make a huge difference in the market today.
These companies will be the first step in every food safety program across the world with businesses turning to them for consumer awareness and product knowledge.
Do you work in the honey industry? Are you part of the evolving organic beekeeping community? Change the way you produce and sell honey with our farm digitizing and traceability solutions.
Give us a call today for a consultation.
SourceTrace's software solutions have been deployed across 32 countries and 4 continents already. We are on a mission to make agriculture and food systems more sustainable. Get in touch and we will extend our expertise and commitment to you.
Today, at SourceTrace we’re happy to share our moment of pride and fulfillment, having made it as the cover story in the Food and Beverage Tech Review.
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