"When we began doing this work, honey was not regularly analyzed, and bee pollen was not a commodity and so was not analyzed," says Mullin. "We decided to go with the types of screening the lab does for milk and apples which look at over 170 pesticides. Now, honey is included in the commodities to be analyzed."
The researchers, including Roger Simonds, a chemist at the National Science Laboratory decided on a modified QuEChERS (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe) method because it uses smaller samples. They coupled this with gas and liquid chromatography to develop methods of analyzing pollen, bees and wax.
"Simplicity was important because there were many people across the country sampling for us," says Maryann Frazier. "Now rather than having them collect 15 grams of pollen they need only collect 3 grams."
The researchers note that this method also uses less solvent and generates data in the parts per billion range.
While beekeepers will have a difficult time controlling pesticide exposure outside the hive, the researchers tested a method for reducing the acaricide load in beeswax. Using gamma radiation from a cobalt 60 source housed at Penn State's Breazeale Reactor, they irradiated the sheets of beeswax that beekeepers use as the structural foundation for the bees to build their combs. They used radiation levels at the high end of that used to irradiate foods. Irradiation broke down about 50 percent of the acaricides in the wax.
"Gamma radiation is often used to kill viruses and other disease causing agents," says James L. Frazier, professor of entomology, Penn State. "Commercial irradiation firms usually decontaminate medical instruments or foods."
The researchers tried irradiation at a commercial plant and though some modifications were necessary to irradiate the wax sheets, it is possible. Some beekeepers already irradiate their equ
|Contact: Andrea Elyse Messer|