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Archived Latest News September 2013



The materials and information included in this Latest News page are provided as a service to you and do not reflect endorsement by the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA). The content and opinions expressed within the page are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by AHPA. AHPA is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided from outside sources.


Woman Gets 3 Years For Helping Smuggle Chinese Honey

By Lance Duroni

Law360, Chicago (September 30, 2013, 7:34 PM ET) -- A U.S.-based agent for a dozen Chinese honey importers was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for her role in smuggling operations that allegedly avoided nearly $40 million of anti-dumping duties.

At a federal court hearing in Chicago, Hung Yi Lin — who pled guilty last year to three counts of entry of goods into the U.S. by means of false statements — was also ordered to pay $512,852 in restitution, but avoided the six-year prison sentence sought by prosecutors.

Lin, 43, also known as Katy Lin, allegedly played a pivotal role in helping her clients falsify documents on shipping containers loaded with Chinese-origin honey from 2009 to 2012, making it appear that they were filled with sugars or syrups. Through the California-based company she owned and operated, KBB Express Inc., Lin ultimately helped bring $11.5 million of honey into the country that dodged $39.2 million in anti-dumping duties and honey assessments, according to prosecutors.

But Lin’s attorney, Ken Miller of Bienert Miller & Katzman PLC, described his client Monday as a hard-working immigrant entrepreneur who was used by the Chinese honey importers and did not share in the spoils from the alleged scheme. She was merely a freight-forwarder that earned between $30,000 and $80,000 annually during the years in question, he said, adding that a probation-only sentence would be sufficient punishment.

A tearful Lin told U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur that she was not attempting to flee prosecution last year when she was arrested on her way out of the country, claiming she was going to visit her parents in Taiwan for the Chinese New Year.

"I’m really sorry if anything I did hurt this country. I came here for my dream,” she said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Boutros countered that Lin repeatedly participated in a sophisticated scheme over a three-year period, calling her role "absolutely critical.” He also stressed the damage to the U.S. honey industry caused when the price of honey collapsed due to the smuggling operation and others like it.

"She caused a lot of harm to a lot of people — and to a very weak industry,” Boutros said. "This is not a victimless crime.”

Backing his point, several owners of beekeeping businesses and others in the industry appeared at the hearing to tell their stories. Timothy Mullins, managing partner at EJ Mullins Co., said his firm’s Dutch Gold Honey unit in Lancaster, Pa., was nearly run out of business in 2010 after a "tsunami” of illegal honey poured into the U.S. from China.

Judge Shadur ultimately departed from the sentencing guidelines cited by the prosecution — which called for around a six-year sentence — giving Lin credit for her cooperation with the government even though it did not lead to any additional arrests or prosecutions. He also said it was "particularly regrettable” that Lin had created harm that was "way out of proportion with any benefit she derived.”

Lin’s arrest was part of a much larger government probe of Chinese honey smuggling operations that allegedly dodged $180 million in anti-dumping duties combined. Two domestic honey processing companies — Honey Holding I Ltd. and Groeb Farms Inc. — both inked deferred prosecution agreements last year as a result of the investigation, agreeing to pay fines of $1 million and $2 million, respectively.

In addition to Lin, four other individuals were charged last year for their alleged roles in the smuggling operations, including Douglas Murphy, Honey Holding’s former director of sales, and Donald Couture, president of honey distributor Premium Food Sales Inc.

Lin is represented by Kenneth M. Miller of Bienert Miller & Katzman PLC, and John T. Theis.

The case is U.S. v. Hung Yi Lin, case number 1:13-cr-00125, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
 

U.S. Department of Justice

United States Attorney

Northern District of Illinois

CALIF. HONEY BROKER SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS IN PRISON FOR AVOIDING $39.2 MILLION IN TARIFFS ON CHINESE-ORIGIN HONEY

CHICAGO — A California woman was sentenced today to three years in federal prison for illegally transporting hundreds of container loads of Chinese-origin honey through the Chicago area after it entered the country illegally. The defendant, HUNG YI LIN, also known as "Katy Lin,” 42, of Temple City, Calif., pleaded guilty in May to three counts of violating U.S. importation laws by falsely declaring that the honey shipments contained sugars, syrups, and apple juice concentrate to avoid $39.2 million in anti-dumping duties.

Lin, who owns and operates KBB Express Inc., of South El Monte, Calif., and served as the U.S. agent for at least 12 importers that were controlled by Chinese honey producers and manufacturers, was sentenced to a year in prison on each of the three counts, to be served consecutively, by U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur. Lin was ordered to begin serving her sentence on Nov. 12. She was also ordered to pay restitution of $512,852 in unpaid tariffs.

"This sentence is the result of an extensive worldwide investigation that successfully dismantled the largest food fraud scheme in U.S. history,” said Gary Hartwig, Special Agent-in- Charge of HSI Chicago. "Lin’s illegal business practices cheated the U.S. government of nearly $40 million, while also inflicting damage on the domestic honey marketplace. We remain committed to protecting U.S. businesses from fraudulent trade practices, while fostering and facilitating the movement of legitimate trade across our borders that is critical to our economy.”

According to court documents, between 2009 and 2012, Lin schemed to falsify the importation documents for hundreds of containers of Chinese-origin honey by misrepresenting the contents as sugars and syrups. As a result, the honey, which had an aggregate declared value of nearly $11.5 million when it entered the country, avoided antidumping duties and honey assessments totaling $39.2 million.

The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Mr. Hartwig, as well as officials with Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Chicago, and the Chicago Field Office of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

Lin was among a group of individuals and companies who were charged earlier this year in the second phase of an investigation led by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS). See: http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2013/pr0220 02.html

In December 2001, the Commerce Department determined that Chinese-origin honey was being sold in the United States at less than fair market value, and imposed antidumping duties. The duties were as high as 221 percent of the declared value, and later were assessed against the entered net weight, currently at $2.63 per net kilogram, in addition to a "honey assessment fee” of one cent per pound of all honey. In October 2002, the Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert for honey containing the antibiotic Chloramphenicol, a broad spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat serious infections in humans, but which is not approved for use in honey.


Honey containing certain antibiotics is deemed "adulterated” within the meaning of federal food and drug safety laws.

In 2008, federal authorities began investigating allegations involving circumventing antidumping duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling, on the "supply side” of the honey industry. The second phase of the investigation involved the illegal buying, processing, and trading of honey that illegally entered the U.S. on the "demand side” of the industry.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Boutros.

 

Are you Listed on the Almond Board of California Pollination Directory?

The Almond Board of California has re-structured our Pollination Directory located on the Board’s website. The Pollination Directory contains information for California almond growers to use as a valuable resource for beekeepers and bee brokers. In order to provide a useful tool to our industry members, your assistance is needed to ensure the information is current.

Please log on to the Almond Board of California Pollination Directory by following the link below.

http://www.almondboard.com/Growers/OrchardManagement/Pollination/Pages/Default.aspx

· Select Almond Pollination Directory

· Select your respective bee affiliation from the list of options on the left under "Additional Resources” (e.g., Beekeepers, Bee Brokers at the bottom of the list)

· If your business is currently on the website, please review your information and submit any changes that need to be made by selecting the "Update Beekeeper Info” button on the bottom left (in orange)

· If you are not on the site, and would like to participate, please select the "Update Beekeeper Info” button on the bottom left (in orange) and complete the form. Please note: business descriptions may be edited at the discretion of the Almond Board.

We would like the directory information to be current for the upcoming 2014 bloom, so please act now.

If you have any questions about the Pollination Directory or need assistance adding your information to the website, please call Debye Hunter at 209.343.3230 or e-mail her at dhunter@almondboard.com.

Thank you for your participation and best wishes on a successful almond pollination season.

 

AHPA is testifying!

 AHPA President Randy Verhoek and Past President, Richard Adee along with Mike Coursey from Kelley Dryer, Peter Kallas from Kallas Honey, Jill Clark with True Souce/Dutch Gold Honey and others are in Chicago, Il. today. They are there to testify as to the severe economic damage the actions of Cathy Lin, one of the freight forwarders convicted in the honey circumvention fraud involving Chinese Honey. The purpose of their testimony is to get jail time and fines to cause a deterrent for future fraud.

 

Now That We Have Your Attention:

 

The recent issue of the "AHPA Latest News Sept. 24, 2013” is a prime example of some of the mind - set that AHPA and other honeybee advocacy groups have been up against. It’s Varroa, Nosema, Virus’, Nutrition or anything but pesticides except the ones that beekeepers use to kill Varroa! These articles have sparked controversy among the beekeeping community. "Get two beekeepers in a room, and you will have three opinions.” However, the articles within the AHPA posting inspire us all to ask if beekeepers forgot how to be beekeepers? Beekeepers are the caregivers of managed honeybees, the honeybees are sentinels of our environment. We cannot continue to "shoot the messenger, and damn the honeybees.”

I have a question for you. Are your bees better off today than they were pre 2006? Not all beekeepers experience the same environmental interactions. Commercial beekeepers traveling around the country from almonds, to cherries, to apples, to blueberries, to pumpkins will experience an interaction with herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides that a beekeeper who pollinates only in their home state will not. And a beekeeper with six hives in their back yard will have nothing of the experiences of the two commercial beekeepers.

The different experiences, are simply that: different experiences. A different experience does not mean bad beekeeping, irrational behavior, or lying. It is simply a different experience. Just as two hives sitting next to each other may forage on different plants, so can environmental interactions affect hives differently in close proximity. It could all depend on how the wind blows, literally.

 

Some beekeepers are losing their hives to the cocktail of pesticides their bees are encountering. Some beekeepers are seeing their hives weakened due to the sub-lethal effects of the pesticide load within their food stores: pollen and nectar. Research has shown that the toxicity of each insecticide, fungicide, herbicide, and adjuvant should be added together when the "total” pesticide is put into use. It is this "total” toxicity that weakens the immune system of honeybees. A recent study showed a correlation between susceptibility of nosema and fungicide exposure.

Beekeepers know that Varroa mite transfers diseases to bees. Beekeepers know the many tests to determine their mite load. Beekeepers know their bees. A West Virginia beekeeper who participated in a "guess how many mites are in the jar” test, guessed correctly; and he admitted he "guessed” since he forgot his glasses that day. But he knows bees; he knows honeybees in his community. He has been a beekeeper for more than 50 years. He has not forgotten about how to be a beekeeper. He is part of a beekeeping community that talks to each other, learns from each other, supports our successes, and stands together when bees and beekeepers are threatened. You the reader of this article maybe a third or fourth generation beekeeper. Have you forgotten how to keep bees?

Honeybees have been at the forefront of the media for a number of years. Some media is good, some is not. For beekeepers we were awakened to how much the public does NOT know about honeybees, beekeepers, and crop pollination. We have spent much time and effort to educate the media and the public about honeybees and beekeeping, and their importance to a sustainable and affordable food supply. Beekeepers are not acting like "Chicken Little,” the sky is falling. Beekeepers in the U.S and around the world are suffering more than the typical winter losses. Those winter losses, for some beekeepers are starting to become summer losses as well. Colonies come back after a winter, spend the growing season in agriculture, or even on native ground and are still dwindling too fast, losing too many of the colonies’ population, months before the winter slow down. These are experiences of some beekeepers, not all. These are the experiences of a few beekeepers in your neighborhood when the county sprays for mosquitos—before sundown. These are the experiences of far too many commercial beekeepers whose bees pollinate six or seven crops, who get inundated with a dozen or more different pesticides, with colony food stores full of pesticides. Bees that experience direct sprays of pesticides when they are applied during the daytime and the crop is in bloom; the pesticides are applied on a windy day and blow onto nearby natural forage; the pesticide residue lingers on the plant directly exposing the bees, or it drifts into a natural water source and the bees drink the pesticide.

These are different experiences of different beekeepers. These experiences are happening to beekeepers. It may not be happening to your colonies, but it may be happening to a beekeeper in your local association. It may only be occurring mostly in one part of your state. Your colonies may have survived a hurricane only to have the county spray fresh water sources for mosquitoes, and that spray wiped out your colonies.

Colonies of managed honeybees have increased since 1961 as other countries agriculture has increased, and the need for managed hives increased. But losses of colonies annually has increased. Beekeepers are still experiencing greater winter losses than has been the norm.

If we want to eradicate the Varroa mite we could as researchers have suggested, as "mother nature” practices—survival of the fittest. However, it would take twenty years for honeybees to evolve and adapt to eradicate Varroa. While the "power of the market” approach would appeal to the Committee for Constructive Tomorrow, it is not a viable one for the industrial agriculture we have today, or for beekeeping in particular.

The American Honey Producers Association, and other bee industry trade and advocacy groups do not want to ban pesticides. We have needed and used pesticides to fight Varroa. Beekeeping is an important part of agriculture; we realize the need to fight crop pests. AHPA is working toward the development of BMP’s and IPM on current fungicides, pesticides, and Insect Growth Regulators in a manner that minimizes stress on honey bees while protecting the nation’s crops. The American Honey Producers Association is working with the Tucson lab to track 300 hives across a year to collect real-world data on the experience of migratory colonies. We are working with the Baton Rouge lab with a continuous effect study of pesticides on honeybees and queens. AHPA is working with other national bee industry groups, the EPA, USDA-ARS, SETAC, and others to improve research and determine the solutions to the decline of honeybee health.

While divergent opinions fill the beekeeping community, the personal experience of beekeepers should not be discounted. Just because not all beekeepers are experiencing the same things with their colonies does not mean we should disparage another’s experience. All beekeepers are "citizen scientists,” observing and working their hives. All beekeepers experience the environment differently, just as your bees do.

Now you know as they say, "the rest of the story”.

Randy Verhoek

President AHPA


 

 

 

Utah beekeepers can exchange 'terrible tasting' red honey

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue

SALT LAKE CITY — State agriculture officials are advising Utah beekeepers who have discovered red honey in their hives to seek relief through a honey exchange program.

The beekeeper community has been reporting economic losses in the thousands after bees that were fed a sugary substance derived from candy canes began producing the red honey.

Technically, the off-colored honey cannot be sold or marketed as honey because it does not meet the legal description.

Initial fears were the honey also may have contained lead in amounts dangerous for human consumption, but test results announced Tuesday showed no detectable levels of lead.

The state said beekeepers with red honey can exchange their product for traditional honey by contacting the Wasatch Beekeepers Association. On the association's website, the beekeeper said the substance was being used to bolster packages arriving late out of California.

An exchange has been set up for Oct. 5 in Salt Lake City and in Orem. Read More

 

Schwan's Cares
Schwan's and University of Minnesota just launched a fundraising effort

University of Minnesota has launched a fundraising campaign, Bee Research, and we need your help. Our goal is to raise $100,000 between Aug 22 2013 and Oct 06 2013.

Check out our campaign page and support us by buying food at schwans.com. For every purchase Schwan's will give 20% of your purchase, or $10.00 from an e-certificate purchase, in support of our campaign, and you will get great food for your friends and family! Also any future purchases beyond the 45 day campaign result in a 5% donation per order for the next 11 months.

You will need to use the website to the campaign: http://schwans.flipgive.com/campaigns/951-bee-research-university-of-minnesota/users/2246-jerry-haus

Thank you for your support!

 

 

 Report questions EPA pesticide approvals

By JENNY HOPKINSON

The Environmental Protection Agency is giving the green light to some pesticides without enough data to prove they are safe, a report for Congress warns.

In a 52-page report released Monday, the Government Accountability Office raises concerns about EPA’s method of granting conditional approval for new uses of pesticides in advance of receiving full reports from the manufacturers to support the safety of their use. The findings in the report come amid growing concern over the effects of pesticides on humans and the environment, which have been linked to neurological disorders and cancer, among other things.


EPA officials, in response to recommendations in GAO’s report, "EPA Should Take Steps To Improve Its Oversight Of Conditional Registrations,” have agreed to update their systems to allow for the easier tracking of conditional registrations and better monitor submission of the needed data.

However, the agency in a July 18 letter to Alfredo Gomez, GAO’s acting director, also defends its conditional registration program.

While EPA has "made mistakes in how it has identified the states of conditionally and unconditionally registered pesticides” and has limitations in tracking the submission of data, "all conditionally registered products meet applicable legal standards, and pesticides have not been allowed in the marketplace without adequate testing to ensure safety to both human health and the environment,” the letter says. READ MORE

 

 

 

Meet the New Project Apis m. - Costco Scholar!

Beekeeping community, get acquainted withthis smiling face! Introducing Laura Brutscher, the new PAm-Costco Scholar. Laura is the recipient of Project Apis m.'s three-year $50,000/year award to pursue her PhD -- helping bees.

Laura Brutscher is a Ph.D. student in the Microbiology Department at Montana State University where she is investigating the role of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi) in maintaining and disrupting colony health and how microbes may relate to the recent surge of honey bee losses. In addition, Laura will investigate what genes are essential for honey bee antiviral immunity. Laura is co-mentored by Dr. Michelle Flenniken, a virologist/ microbiologist investigating honey bee host-pathogen interactions, and Dr. Carl Yeoman, an expert on rumen/gastrointestinal microbiology in organisms ranging from humans to honey bees. Lauragrew up on a dairy farm in Little Falls, MN, where her passion for nature and science developed early. She obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, with a major in biology in 2012 and joined the Molecular Biosciences graduate program at Montana State in August 2012. Since beginning her research, Laura has been actively involved in maintaining the university's honey bee colonies and sampling/surveying the honey bee-associated microbes in commercial colonies. She looks forward to sharing her research findings with both the scientific and beekeeping communities in order to improve honey bee health.

Congratulations, Laura!

 

Migratory Bee Research Unit Proposal

Based at theTucson honey bee lab, the molecular ecology lab of Dr. Kirk Anderson has made a proposal to the honey bee industry of what in essence would be a 300 hive migratory bee research unit. Dr. Anderson serves as the adviser for three PhD students from the University of Arizona that have been keeping their own bees, and will be the driving force behind this venture. The immediate goals to cooperate with any number of commercial beekeepers to gain practical beekeeping experience and help move these colonies to California for almond pollination and other test sites throughout the West. Pollination contracts would help offset some of the costs. These colonies would be used for experimental purposes as well as consistent monitoring with field data being collected and processed by the labs of Dr. Anderson and Dr. Carroll in Tucson. This is a good concept and is relevant to the type of research we need today.

For commercial beekeepers with a serious interest in cooperating with this serious endeavor please contact Dr. Anderson. kirk.anderson@ars.usda.gov

 

Red 'honey' in Utah may come from candy-fed bees

 

OREM — "Red” honey is turning up in commercial hives in multiple counties in Utah, causing losses already in the tens of thousands of dollars for business owners and prompting a state investigation.

State inspectors Wednesday said it is believed a yet-to-be-named large beekeeping operation began "open-feeding” bees with a concoction of crushed, rehydrated candy canes and other candy materials. Other bees discovered the caches and returned contaminated to surrounding bee yards.

"The way we’re looking at it, it’s just a little over $50,000,” said Orem-based 3 Bee Honey owner Chris Spencer. "The impact could be bigger.”

Spencer said he began to notice the red honey showing up in July and already has had to dump 30 to 40 pounds of it. The totals, he said, could rise to hundreds of pounds by the end of the year.

Additionally, he said "breeder queens” have had to be removed for evaluation, and he has observed problems with brood production, as well as collecting genetic material from drones.

Read More

 



 

CELEBRATE NATIONAL HONEY MONTH!

Learn the Buzz Behind Nature's Liquid Gold

Firestone, Colo., September 1, 2013 - September is National Honey Month, and what better time to celebrate one of nature's simplest pleasures - honey.

Honey is a natural product that contains just one ingredient: honey. Harvesting honey is an ancient artisanal craft that is both an art and science. The honey bees gather nectar from flowering plants, and beekeepers collect honey from the beehives. The journey from harvesting to distributing honey is multifaceted. The bees simply collect nectar, add a few enzymes and store it in the honeycomb. But all of the color, flavor and aroma comes from the particular flower from which the nectar was collected.

There are more than 300 varietals of honey, ranging greatly in flavor and appearance. After the honey is removed from the beehive and extracted by a beekeeper, it is shipped off to a honey packer, who warms the honey and removes any foreign material or residue from the beehive, often including whatever pollens may have been introduced during the extraction process.

In a 2013 Attitude and Usage study \ the National Honey Board (NHB) learned that when purchasing
honey, 48 percent of consumers prefer for honey to be brilliantly clear and golden. Consumers also
responded that they are increasingly likely to prefer honey that has pollen grains filtered out. The fact is
, whether there is pollen in honey or not, it's still honey.

"The benefits of honey make it easily accessible for consumers to use in their daily lives," said Bruce
Boynton, CEO of the NHB. "Honey is a whole food that has other uses outside of the culinary realm." As a carbohydrate, honey is a natural energy booster throughout the day. With humectant properties, honey draws and retains moisture to help hydrate the skin. It is also recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization as a natural cough suppressant in children after the age of one.

To read more about the journey from hive to bottle, visit www.storyofhoney.comand for more information on honey and honey recipes, please visit www.honey.com. To find a specific varietal near you, visit www.honeylocator.com .

The National Honey Board is a federal research and promotion board under USDA oversight that
conducts research, marketing and promotion programs to help maintain and expand markets for honey and honey products. These programs are funded by an assessment of one cent per pound on domestic and imported honey.


 

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Cassie Cox
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office:281-900-9740
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