Monday, 20 December 2010


1. Honey Bees’ scientific name - Apis mellifera(Italian) Apis Cerana (Asian).
2. They have 2 wings, 2 eyes, and 6 legs, a nectar pouch, and a stomach.            

3.The honey bee has been around for 30 million years.

4- It is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.

5. Bees maintain a temperature of 92-93 degrees Fahrenheit in their central brood nest regardless of whether the outside temperature is 110 or -40 degrees.

6. Honey bees are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators.

7. Honey bees fly at speed of 15 miles per hour.

8. The honeybee's wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making the distinctive buzz.

9. The average honey bee will actually make only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

10. The queen may mate with up to 17 drones over a 1-2 day period of mating flights.

11. It takes about 556 workers to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers.

12. Worker honey bees are female, live 6 to 8 weeks and do all the work.

13. The queen bee lives for about 2-3 years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength.

14. A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.

15. Each honey bee colony has a unique odor for members’ identification. Entrance guard bees inspect incoming bees for correct hive odor and to ensure that they are bringing in food. Other bees will be rejected or attacked with soldier bees.

16. Only worker bees sting, and only if they feel threatened and they die once they sting. Queens have a stinger, but don’t leave the hive to help defend it.

17. It is estimated that 1100 honey bee stings are required to be fatal.

18. Honey bees communicate with one another by "dancing".

19. The male honey bees are called drones, and they do no work at all, have no stinger, their sole purpose is mating with the queen during mating period.

20. During winter, honey bees feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months. They form a tight cluster in their hive to keep the queen and themselves warm.

21. Honey bees are entirely herbivorous(feeding on plants) when they forage for nectar and pollen but can cannibalize their own brood when stressed.

22. A honey bee can fly for up to six miles. It would have to fly around 90,000 miles - three times around the globe - to make one pound of honey.

23. It takes one ounce of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.

24. Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it's the only food that contains "pinocembrin", an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

25. Honey bees produce beeswax from eight paired glands on the underside of their abdomen.

26. The average life span of a worker bee is only 4-6 weeks

27. The queen lays an average of 1500-2000 eggs each day. This daily production may equal or exceed her own weight. She is constantly fed and groomed by attendant worker bees.

28. The brain of a worker honey bee is about a cubic millimeter but has the densest neuropile tissue of any animal.

29. Honey is 80% sugars and 20% water.

30. Honey has been used for millenia as a topical dressing for wounds since microbes cannot live in it. It also produces hydrogen peroxide. Honey has even been used to embalm bodies such as that of Alexander the Great.

31. An average colony has 40,000-60,000 bees during the spring and early summer

32. Fermented honey, known as Mead, is the most ancient fermented beverage. The term "honey moon" originated with the Norse practise of consumming large quantities of Mead during the first month of a marriage.

33. Honey bees must consume about 17-20 pounds of honey to be able to biochemically produce each pound of beeswax.

34. The queen stores the sperm from these matings in her spermatheca, thus she has a lifetime supply and never mates again.

35. A queen bee can control the flow of sperm to fertilize an egg when she is about to lay an egg.

36. Worker bees-female bees are produced from fertilized eggs and have a full, double set of chromosomes. The males, or drones, develop from unfertilized eggs and have only a single set of chromosomes.

37. When a drone succeeds in mating it will soon die because the penis and associated abdominal tissues are ripped from the drone's body at sexual intercourse.

38. Drones will die off in late fall and do not reappear in the bee hive until late spring

39. The bees measure distance by the motion of images received by their eyes as they fly

Friday, 5 November 2010

Propolis Component Targets Cancer Cells

Biochemical Mechanism of Caffeic Acid Phenylethyl Ester (CAPE) Selective Toxicity Towards Melanoma Cell Lines
Chemico-Biological Interactions, Volume 188, Issue 1, 6 October 2010, Pages 1-14

In the current work, we investigated the in vitro biochemical mechanism of Caffeic Acid Phenylethyl Ester (CAPE) toxicity and eight hydroxycinnamic/caffeic acid derivatives in vitro, using tyrosinase enzyme as a molecular target in human SK-MEL-28 melanoma cells.

Enzymatic reaction models using tyrosinase/O2 and HRP/H2O2 were used to delineate the role of one- and two-electron oxidation. Ascorbic acid (AA), NADH and GSH depletion were used as markers of quinone formation and oxidative stress in CAPE induced toxicity in melanoma cells. Ethylenediamine, an o-quinone trap, prevented the formation of o-quinone and oxidations of AA and NADH mediated by tyrosinase bioactivation of CAPE.

The IC50 of CAPE towards SK-MEL-28 melanoma cells was 15 μM. Dicoumarol, a diaphorase inhibitor, and 1-bromoheptane, a GSH depleting agent, increased CAPE's toxicity towards SK-MEL-28 cells indicating quinone formation played an important role in CAPE induced cell toxicity. Cyclosporin-A and trifluoperazine, inhibitors of the mitochondrial membrane permeability transition pore (PTP), prevented CAPE toxicity towards melanoma cells. We further investigated the role of tyrosinase in CAPE toxicity in the presence of a shRNA plasmid, targeting tyrosinase mRNA.

Results from tyrosinase shRNA experiments showed that CAPE led to negligible anti-proliferative effect, apoptotic cell death and ROS formation in shRNA plasmid treated cells. Furthermore, it was also found that CAPE selectively caused escalation in the ROS formation and intracellular GSH (ICG) depletion in melanocytic human SK-MEL-28 cells which express functional tyrosinase.

In contrast, CAPE did not lead to ROS formation and ICG depletion in amelanotic C32 melanoma cells, which do not express functional tyrosinase. These findings suggest that tyrosinase plays a major role in CAPE's selective toxicity towards melanocytic melanoma cell lines.

Our findings suggest that the mechanisms of CAPE toxicity in SK-MEL-28 melanoma cells mediated by tyrosinase bioactivation of CAPE included quinone formation, ROS formation, intracellular GSH depletion and induced mitochondrial toxicity.

Friday, 8 October 2010

India Issues Standards For Honey

Recently some reports have been appeared in the newspapers regarding the permitted levels of antibiotics in honey. The following advisory is issued by Food Safety and Standards Authority to clarify the issues involved.

Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of blossoms or from secretions of plants.

When visually inspected, the honey shall be free from any foreign matter such as mould, dirt, scum, pieces of beeswax, the fragments of bees and other insects and from any other extraneous matter.

The colour of honey varies from light to dark brown.

            Standards for honey have been prescribed under Prevention Food Adulteration (PFA) Rules, 1955 as under.

(a) Specific gravity at 27OC                         Not less than 1.35

(b) Moisture                                                 Not more than 25 per cent by mass

(c) Total reducing sugars                             Not less than 65 per cent by mass

(c-i) for Carbia colossa and Honey dew      Not less than 60 per cent by mass

(d) Sucrose                                                   Not more than to 5.0 per cent by mass

(d-i) for Carbia colossa and Honey dew     Not more than 10 per cent by mass

(e) Fructose-glucose ratio                           Not less than 0.95

(f) Ash                                                          Not more than 0.5 percent by mass

(g) Acidity (Expressed as formic acid)        Not more than 0.2 per cent by mass

(h) Fiehe's test                                            Negative

(iHydroxy methyl furfural(HMF),                   Not more than 80mg/kg


If Fiehe's test is positive, and hydroxy methyl furfural (HMF) content is more than 80 milligram/kilogram, then fructose: glucose ratio should be 1.0 or more.

Rule 44 D provides for restriction on sale of Carbia Callosa and Honey dew. Carbia Collosa and Honey dew shall be sold only in sealed containers bearing AGMARK seal.

Rule 45 specifies that food resembling but not pure honey cannot be marked as honey. No person shall use the word „Honey or any word, mark, illustration or device that suggests “Honey on the label or any package of, or in any advertisement for, any food that resembles honey but is not pure honey.

Violation of the provisions of PFA Act/Rules attracts penal action.

            No pesticide residues or antibiotics are allowed in honey.

            The maximum limits of heavy metals in various foods are prescribed under PFA Rules, 1955. Rule 57 of PFA Rules prescribes the limits of contaminants under category “Foods not specified” (which includes honey) as follows:-

1. Lead                        Not more than 2.5 ppm

2. Copper                    Not more than 30.0 ppm

3. Arsenic                    Not more than 1.1 ppm

4. Tin                           Not more than 250.0 ppm

5. Zinc                         Not more than 50.0 ppm

6. Cadmium                Not more than 1.5 ppm

7. Mercury                  Not more than 1.0 ppm

8. Methyl Mercury     Not more than 0.25 ppm

Standards of Honey under AGMARK

The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has laid down standards of honey under the Grading and Marking Rules (AGMARK), which lays down the grades, designation of honey as Special, Grade–A and Standard to indicate the quality of honey for the purpose of certification. It specifies the method of packing, marking and labeling and conditions for grant of certificate for authorization. The standards of AGMARK are voluntary.

In the matter of admissibility of antibiotics in honey, safety standards in India are similar to those in European Union, Codex Alimentarius and USA where they are completely prohibited.


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