23/05/2018 06:08 SAST | Updated 23/05/2018 06:08 SAST

Which Bee Produced Your Honey?

"Bees have dual citizenship these days, so I usually just wing it on my label." Fake honey is a growing problem, especially with no clear labelling.

Fabrizio Bensch/ Reuters

Marc Davies/ HuffPost SA

World Bee Day was celebrated on Sunday, May 20. Coincidentally, on the same day, while sitting in a coffee shop in Pretoria, I came across this "honey" (pictured below). Sweet as she was, she was totally unsure from where she came.

What bee produced you, honey? She replied, "Bees have dual citizenship these days, so I usually just wing it on my label."


The "mixed labelling" issue on honey products should not be taken lightly — especially given the recent upsurge of "natural honey" imports into South Africa.

South Africa's honey imports increased from 476 tons in 2001 to 4,206 tonnes in 2017 (see table below). This is mainly due to steady domestic demand, coupled with a decline in domestic honey production. But worth highlighting is that on average, 76 percent of South Africa's "natural honey" imports came from China in the past 17 years.

Agbiz Research

I mention this because the Chinese honey has in the past dominated the headlines, but not in a good way. In 2014, ran an article which highlighted that Chinese farmers were caught producing counterfeit honey.

Europe had similar experiences with imported honey, to the extent that the in 2014, European lawmakers ranked honey sixth on the list of 10 top products that are most at risk of food fraud. This has been a big scandal, and even Netflix went as far as shooting a documentary about it entitled "Rotten – Lawyers, Guns & Honey".

Marc Davies/ HuffPost SA