Main research question/goal
To what degree is the substance hydroxy methyl furfural (HMF) in sugar feed (commercial sugar syrups) toxic for individual honeybees and for bee colonies? The aim is to detemine the precise levels of toxicity, so that the legal standards of HMF are ascertained in a more correct and safe way. Another goal is to find out the crictical points regarding the formation of HMF during the production, storage and use for the most used sugar syrups commercially available in Belgium. Research approach
In practical experiments we determine the acute and chronic toxicity of HMF in sugar feed for honeybees in experimental cages. In these experiments we test different concentrations of HMF. We measure the mortality and follow the behaviour of the bees. Through a questionnaire distributed among all Belgian beekeepers we gather information about all types of sugar used as winter feed for bees. We study the formation of HMF in the most popular commercial sugar syrups during storage at different temperatures and in different storage conditions.Relevance/Valorisation
In the winter of 2009-2010 an abnormal bee loss happened at different apiaries. There was a link with the feeding of a bad batch of sugar syrup with an elevated HMF-concentration. Based on the advice of the scientific committee of FASFC a provisional standard of 40 mg/kg was set, without any actual knowledge of the real toxicity for honeybees. The research results will be used to lay down a final standard. The knowledge about the formation of HMF in sugar syrup during storage will be summarized in practical (storage) guidelines for the beekeepers.
Ugent - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen
UGent - Fac. Wetenschappen
ULG - Université de Liège - Fac. De Médecine Vétérinaire
ULG - Université de Liège - Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech