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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVE NUTRITION FOR HONEY BEE COLONIES TO STIMULATE POPULATION GROWTH, INCREASE QUEEN QUALITY, AND REDUCE THE IMPACT OF VARROA MITES

Location: Honey Bee Research

Title: Formation of Hydroxymethylfurfural in Domestic High Fructose Corn Syrup and Its Toxicity to the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

Authors
item Leblanc, Blaise -
item EGGLESTON, GILLIAN
item SAMMATARO, DIANA
item Cornett, Charles -
item Dufault, Renee -
item Deeby, Thomas
item ST CYR, ELDWIN

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 9, 2009
Publication Date: July 31, 2009
Citation: Leblanc, B.W., Eggleston, G., Sammataro, D., Cornett, C., Dufault, R., Deeby, T.A., St Cyr, E.L. 2009. Formation of Hydroxymethylfurfural in Domestic High Fructose Corn Syrup and Its Toxicity to the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 57:7369-7376.

Interpretive Summary: In the U.S., high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become a sucrose replacement for honey bees and has widespread use as a sweetener in many processed foods and beverages for human consumption. It is utilized by commercial beekeepers as a food for honey bees for several reasons: to promote brood production, after moving bees for commercial pollination, and when field gathered nectar sources are scarce. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a heat-formed contaminant and is the most noted toxin to honey bees. Currently, there are no rapid field tests that would alert beekeepers of dangerous levels of HMF in HFCS or honey. In this study, the initial levels and the rates of formation of HMF at four temperatures were evaluated in U.S. available HFCS samples. Different HFCS brands were analyzed and compared for acidity and metal ions by inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy. Levels of HMF in eight HFCS products were evaluated over 35 days, and the data was fitted to polynomial and exponential equations, with excellent correlations. The data can be used by beekeepers to predict HMF formation on storage. Caged bee studies were conducted to evaluate the HMF dose-response effect on bee mortality. Finally, commercial bases such as lime, potash and caustic soda were added to neutralize hydronium ion in HMF samples and the rates of HMF formation were compared at 45 degrees C.

Technical Abstract: In the U.S. high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become a sucrose replacement for honey bees and has widespread use as a sweetener in many processed foods and beverages for human consumption. It is utilized by commercial beekeepers as a food for honey bees for several reasons: to promote brood production, after moving bees for commercial pollination, and when field gathered nectar sources are scarce. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a heat-formed contaminant and is the most noted toxin to honey bees. Currently, there are no rapid field tests that would alert beekeepers of dangerous levels of HMF in HFCS or honey. In this study, the initial levels and the rates of formation of HMF at four temperatures were evaluated in U.S. available HFCS samples. Different HFCS brands were analyzed and compared for acidity and metal ions by inductivity coupled plasma mass spectroscopy. Levels of HMF in eight HFCS products were evaluated over 35 days, and the data was fitted to polynomial and exponential equations, with excellent correlations. The data can be used by beekeepers to product HMF formation on storage. Caged bee studies were conducted to evaluate the HMF dose-response effect on bee mortality. Finally, commercial bases such as lime, potash and caustic soda were added to neutralize hydronium ion in HMF samples and the rates of HMF formation were compared at 45 degrees C.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014