organic standards
Organic Honey Standards, an example from Quality Assurance International

6.7. Honey Standards

6.7.1. Bee-Stock Sources
While pedigree of the bees is not crucial to organic honey production, their handling in a manner that prevents contamination of future organic honey crops with residual honey or bee feed from non-compliant sources is crucial.

6.7.1.1. Acceptable sources of bees include:

  • Colonies in existing organic hives;
  • Colonies confined to brood chambers only covered by a queen excluder;
  • Divided colonies from conventional hives on brood combs only;
  • Package bee colonies;
  • Nucleus colony ("nucs");
  • Captured wild or migratory swarms on brood comb only.

The use of colonies that have combs containing existing honey produced from nectar collected from non-complying foraging areas is prohibited.

6.7.2. Principal Feed Source Areas
Organic honey must be produced by naturally foraging colonies that are located at least 2 miles distant, in straight-line flight, from any pollution source which could cause the honey to become contaminated by, or as a result of, returning foraging bees (e.g. synthetic-chemical sprayed agriculture, industrial centers, urban centers, etc.).

A detailed map of all forage areas is required from all applicants.

6.7.3. Feed Supplements
Each bee-keeper is required to have a supplemental feeding plan, if starvation is imminent. This would include planning for sources of honey, sugar, syrup, fruit concentrate or other food source for non-flow periods.

If the hives are moved to non-compliant nectar and pollen sources, any organic honey must be removed before the hives are moved. In addition, the first honey extracted after the re-entry period back to the compliant apiary location must be treated as conventional honey.

The use of non-compliant feed supplements during honey flow is prohibited.

6.7.4. Health-Care Practices
Bottom boards may be scraped routinely to remove accumulations of wax and other debris that serve as food and shelter for wax moths.

Colonies infected with American Foulbrood must be destroyed.

Beekeepers are allowed to use the antibiotic oxytetracycline (terramycin) as a preventive measure against the spread of American Foulbrood into colonies. Antibiotic applications may be made only after the end of honey production, and must be terminated 30 days prior to the start of new organic honey production.

Menthol is allowed for control of Tracheal Mites (Acarapis Woodi).

Folic acid, formic acid, and lactic acid are allowed for the control of Varroa Mites with the following restrictions:

  • Folic acid may be used after the end of the season's honey production. Its use must be discontinued 30 days before the addition of honey supers. The need for folic acid must be documented and approval obtained from QAI prior to its use;
  • Formic acid has not been approved by the EPA for use against mites in the U.S. The need for formic acid must be documented and approval obtained from QAI prior to its use;
  • Lactic acid may be used after the end of the season's honey production. Its use must be discontinued 30 days before the addition of honey supers. The need for lactic acid must be documented and approval obtained from QAI prior to its use.

6.7.4.1. The following practices are prohibited:

  • Use of sugar syrup, or oil (shortening) based extender patties for administering antibiotics for American Foulbrood control;
  • Use of synthetically compounded materials for health care.

6.7.5. Hives & Apiary Yard Locations:

Apiary "yards" should be located near abundant, forageable pollen and nectar crops; yards should be located in areas of low ant activity;

  • Hives (if paintable) should be painted with non-toxic paint and in a suitable color for the climatic conditions;
  • Comb foundations are to be made of pure beeswax, and frames are to be made from wood. Plastic frames, foundations or combs are prohibited;
  • Additional supers (boxes of production combs above the brood chambers) are encouraged for successful colonies;
  • Each individual hive must have a numbered I.D. code that relates to the bottom board, brood chamber boxes, queen excluder (if used), honey supers, and cover(s);
  • Use of wet comb (extracted, but wet with honey) from conventional hives is prohibited.

6.7.6. Harvesting
6.7.6.1. Accepted methods for removing bees from the honey supers during harvesting include:

  • Bee escapes with a natural smoke agitant;
  • Bee brush and transfer boxes;
  • Forced-air bee blower.

The use of "fume boards" with non-compliant or unregistered repellents of any kind during harvesting is prohibited. Examples of these prohibited products include butyric anhydride (Bee Go and Honey Robber) or benzaldehyde.

6.7.7. Extraction Facility
The extraction facility must adhere to all regulations for organic processing facilities.

6.7.7.1. Acceptable moth controls in storage include:

  • Burning sulfur;
  • Refrigeration or freezing.
  • Any honey heated to over 110 degrees F must not be labeled "raw" honey because of heat denaturing of enzymes.
  • The labeling of organic honey grade or color shall comply with USDA honey industry standards. Organic honey labeled by floral source must be produced solely from that single floral source and not blended with any other honey.

6.7.8. Record-Keeping
Yard records of all inputs must be maintained, including dates and amounts of materials applied. A detailed production log with an apiary yard location system must be maintained in an auditable format.

Quality Assurance International is a private, professional service corporation developed specifically for the purpose of verifying the authenticity of food, fiber and other products which are organically grown under a management policy of sustainable agriculture; and which are handled under goals preserving the integrity created in the organic commodity.

Quality Assurance International
12526 High Bluff Dr.
Suite 300
San Diego
CA 92130 - USA
Tel.: (858) 792-3531
Fax: (858) 792-8665
Web: http://www.qai-inc.com