Technical Note Spotlight: Neonicotinoid Analysis from Honey

Everyone knows that bees produce honey from flower nectar, but are you aware of the extensive work that goes into such a delectable creation?

Honey Bee chromatography

It can take up to 60,000 bees traveling as far as 55,000 miles to produce with a single pound of honey, yet we market, sell, and consume the stuff with reckless abandon.

The dialogue surrounding honey—our beloved and hip sweetener alternative—has been fraught with existential fear for a while. It’s no question that bees are dying (though not at the apocalyptic rates we once suspected) and that’s serious.

But what is killing them?

According to a Grist report, scientists have observed a combination of four things: parasites, disease, pesticides, and dwindling habitat.

disappearing bees colony collapse syndrome

“One putative cause,” the article explains, “is a newly popular class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, which go inside plants—a little bit even gets into the nectar and pollen that bees eat.”

“To assess how, or how much, neonics affect bees, many look to Europe,” Rolling Stone wrote, “where [a] neonic ban has been in place for almost two years; yet the ban’s outcome is still inconclusive, in part, because of the persistence of the chemicals.”

imidacloprid bees

Neonicotinoids are chemically comparable to nicotine.  The family of insecticides saw a surge in commercialization after Bayer began marketing imidacloprid to control aphids, locusts, termites, and various beetles.

In this Technical Note, see how neonicotinoids from honey can be rapidly analyzed using HPLC.

And next time you see a bee, don’t swat. He’s just trying to get to work (and has 54,000 miles to go).

Related resources:

• Neonicotinoids honey extract by LC/MS/MS using roQ and Kinetex Biphenyl
 Sulfonamides from Honey by LC/MS/MS 
• Ion-Exclusion Chromatography: Honey
• Sugars in Honey on Rezex ROA
• iMethod™ Food – Nitrofuran Metabolites in Meat, Shrimp, Liver, and Honey by LC/MS/MS
• SPE of Tetracyclines from Honey Using Gemini 5u

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