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How honest is your honey?

How honest is your honey?

The honey business is sweeter in the United States than insome other nations because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) subsidizes the industry through government loans to beekeepers, who put up their honey as collateral. Occasionally, people try to sting the USDA by putting up foreign honey purchased at lower prices. Honey in Mexico, for example, typically sells for less than does honey in the United States.

Luckily for the USDA and the honest honey companies,biologist Vaughn Bryant at Texas A&M University in College Station has a way out of this sticky problem. Bryant and his students examine the pollen that bees carry from local plants to the honey they make. Since each plant species produces a unique pollen grain, the researchers can usually use the known distribution of different plants to tell where the pollen and the honey originated. Often, they can also tell the kind of honey-- whether, for example, a sample is orange blossom honey or not. "It's kind of like playing Sherlock Holmes,' says Bryant, who recently, investigated his 300th honey sample in the last six years. Of that number, he says, less than 5 percent have been "very suspicious.'
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Title Annotation:testing origin of honey samples
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 4, 1987
Previous Article:Fingerprinting the mean bees.
Next Article:Pollen probe of early Maya farming.

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