honey tester

How to Use Honey Test to Test Honey at Home?

Posted on  August 20, 2020, Edited by Jason, Category  

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What is honey?
Common diseases of bees
Restrictions of antibiotics in various countries
Use of antibiotics
How to do a honey test
How to prevent the residues of antibiotics from honey?

Honey tester
Honey tester

Are you worried that the honey you buy at a high price contains antibiotics? I will show you how to test whether a bottle of honey contains antibiotics and how to do a honey test.

With the gradual improvement of living standards, people’s attention is gradually shifted to health maintenance and food safety. The problem of excessive residues of food antibiotics has gradually attracted people's attention in recent years. While people are pursuing natural, additive-free, high-quality and pure honey, they are also worried that the honey produced by the profit-seeking manufacturers driven by this crazy pursuit is not up to the standards and contains excessive antibiotics. Not only are they not beneficial to the body, but they cause irreversible health hazards.

What is honey?

Honey is a sweet substance stored in the honey comb by bees collecting the nectar from the nectary of the plant flower or the secretion of the nectary outside the flower.

Honey, the main product of bees, is a sweet and viscous, transparent or translucent liquid. Honey comes mainly from nectar, followed by nectar and honeydew. Nectar is the secretion of the nectary glands in the flowers of plants, and the nectar is the excrement of aphids, leafhoppers, etc. Honeydew is the secretion of the glands outside the flowers of plants, and bees use their tongue tubes to suck the nectary, tree sap, or the sweet liquids of aphids, and leafhoppers. The sweet liquids secreted by the honey tube is mixed with saliva of the mouthparts of the bee and temporarily stored in the sac. After returning to the nest, the sweet liquids are spit in the honey comb, and will be processed by repeated fermentation.

Under the action of enzymes, the polysaccharides in nectar are decomposed into glucose and fructose, and the water content is reduced to about 20%. Mature raw honey is basically formed. So far, people can use the centrifugal effect of the honey shaker to obtain the finished raw honey. From the perspective of food science, honey is plant-based food. Physical properties of honey: pure, high-quality, fresh and mature honey is a viscous, transparent or translucent gelatinous liquid, sweet, with a strong fragrance, while low-quality honey often has a bitter, astringent, or sour taste. When the temperature is below 10℃ or the storage time is long, it is easy to crystallize at different degrees. Different types of nectar sources, different physical properties.

Common diseases of bees

First, I will disprove a misunderstanding: the truth is that antibiotic drugs are only effective against bacterial drugs, and have no effect on viral and fungal diseases. Moreover, antibiotics are drugs that are explicitly prohibited in honey. In addition, antiviral drugs are definitely not allowed to be used in bees.

Common bacterial diseases:
American larval foul disease (common in Italian bees), European larval foul disease (common in Chinese bees). Some beekeepers tend to confuse putrid disease with cystic larval disease, which can be distinguished from the smell. Bacterial diseases usually have a foul smell!

Common fungal diseases:
Chalk disease, Aspergillus flavus disease.

Viral diseases:
Cystic larval disease, chronic paralysis, acute paralysis.

Common protozoan diseases:
Martensite amoeba, microsporidiosis, crawling bee syndrome.

Restrictions of antibiotics in various countries

Not all antibiotics can be used after bees get sick, and the types of antibiotics to be used must be determined according to the destination of honey sales. If exported to the EU, the drugs that are allowed to be used but have limits:

Antibacterial substances: sulfonamides, B-lactam antibiotics (penicillins, cephalosporins), tetracyclines, macrolides (erythromycin), streptomycin

Other veterinary drugs: carbamates, pyrethroids, anticoccidial drugs.

Japan allows the use of chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline, and tetracycline to treat bee bacterial larval diseases.

The use of chloramphenicol, nitrofurans, and insecticides is absolutely prohibited in various countries. Once these medicines are found in bee products, the products are immediately judged as unqualified and they must be destroyed immediately. Therefore, the sales destinations of bee products and the use of drugs are closely correlated.

Use of antibiotics

In the process of cultivating bees, we cannot prevent the bees from getting sick. And some beekeepers tend to abuse antibiotics due to little knowledge of disease treatment. The incorrect use of antibiotics is likely to contaminate honey, which will make honey contain antibiotic residues and endanger human health.

Only by using the medicine correctly can the residues of the medicine in the bee products be avoided. Therefore, in order to be able to use drugs rationally, I suggest you pay attention to the following points:

1. Strictly follow the indications

When selecting antibacterial drugs, the clinical diagnosis, the types of pathogenic microorganisms and their sensitivity to drugs should be considered, and according to the severity of the symptoms, antibacterial drugs that are highly sensitive to pathogenic microorganisms and have better clinical efficacy and fewer adverse reactions should be selected. For example, using kanamycin and gentamicin will be better than penicillin when it comes to bee paratyphoid fever and sepsis.

2. Observe the bee colony response

Pay attention to the bee colony reaction during the medication. If the symptoms improve, continue to use the medication; if the toxic reaction is devastating, you should change to other antibacterial drugs; if the effect is not promising, you should consider the following possibilities and improve the treatment plan in time:

(1) Improper selection of antibacterial drugs? Cannot inhibit pathogenic microorganisms? Other effective antibacterial drugs should be changed at this time.

(2) Insufficient dose or improper drug administration: increase the dose or change the administration at this time.

(3) There is an error in diagnosis, that is, the disease is not caused by bacteria, but caused by viruses, protozoa, etc., so antibacterial drugs are ineffective.

3. Prevent bacteria from developing resistance

The main measures are:

  1. Strictly follow the indications of antibacterial drugs;
  2. The dosage should be sufficient and the course of treatment should be appropriate so as to control the generation of drug-resistant bacteria;
  3. When necessary, combined medication can be used. This is an effective method to control the development of drug resistance from different links.

In addition, the following issues should also be noted:

  1. Unexplained diseases and viral diseases are not suitable for application of antibacterial drugs at random;
  2. Preventive administration of antibacterial drugs should be strictly controlled, and long-term medication should be avoided as much as possible;
  3. Periodic and thorough disinfection of contaminated sites and bee gear is also an important part of controlling the spread of drug-resistant bacteria;
  4. For the treatment of a certain kind of bacterial infection, it is not advisable to use just one antibacterial drug for a long time, and you should exchange it in a planned way.

4. Comprehensive treatment measures

Most antibacterial drugs are antibacterial drugs, which create certain conditions for the body to destroy bacteria. In order to achieve a better therapeutic effect, using antibacterial drugs is needed, and in the meantime, comprehensive treatment must be carried out according to the occurrence and development of the disease, such as improving feeding management, enhancing the resistance of the colony itself, paying attention to disinfection, and controlling the further spread of pathogens.

5. Combination medication

Although the combined application of antibacterial drugs can achieve additive effect (the effect is the sum of the two drugs) or synergistic effect (the effect is better than the additive effect), but sometimes it can also produce antagonism or increase the toxicity. Therefore, there must be the following clear clinical symptoms:

  1. Severe infections in critical condition (including unknown condition).
  2. A mixed infection that cannot be controlled by antibacterial drugs.
  3. Bacteria may develop drug resistance after long-term medication.

6. Mixed medication

Antibacterial drugs mixed with different antibacterial drugs or other drugs may sometimes cause conflicts in efficacy and this situation should be avoided. Pay attention to:

  1. Tetracycline drugs are best used alone. It is not suitable to be used with sodium, bicarbonate, calcium chloride, etc.
  2. Penicillin G potassium salt should not be used together with tetracycline, sulfa drugs, kanamycin, gentamicin, erythromycin, vitamin C, etc.
  3. Sulfa drugs, especially compound synergistic sulfa preparations, can conflict with multiple drugs and should be used alone.

How to do a honey test

Detectable antibiotics:

Erythromycin, sulfonamide, kanamycin, clarithromycin, quinolone, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, tylosin, neomycin.

Testing supplies:

Test kit, hexane, micropores, rehydration solution, centrifuge tube.

Auxiliary honey test equipment:

Ethyl Acetate, Mixer, Oscillator, Electronic Balance, Centrifuge, Organomation, Mini Pipeta.

Detection time:


Special note:

This method of operation is applicable to all the above antibiotics.


1. Weigh 1g honey (the weighing error is allowed to be within ±0.1g.)


2. Add 3ml of pure water to the centrifuge tube.


3. Shake for 30 seconds.


4. Open the reagent bucket and remove the required amount of microwell reagent. After taking out, please replace the cover.


5. Place the required microwell reagents in the empty microwell plate rack and the number of samples tested at a time should not exceed 8. If the number of samples tested exceeds 8 at a time, please test in groups of 8 in batches.


6. Use a pipette to draw 200 μl of the sample and inject it into the microwell, pipetting 5- 6 times per well.


7. Incubate at room temperature (20- 25 ℃) for 3 minutes.


8. Remove the test strip from the reagent bucket and insert it into the incubated reagent, 5 minutes’ reaction time with timer.


9. To ensure the accuracy of the results, the results should be read within 2 minutes, invalid interpretation at other times.


Interpretation of results:

Negative: line T, C have the same color or line T stronger than C
Positive: only line C appears or line T hardly develops color
Invalid: line C does not appear

Results illustration

How to prevent the residues of antibiotics from honey?

  1. Raise a strong colony. Because when the bees are strong, the ability to resist diseases is enhanced. The healthy colony does not have to be fed with medicines, thereby reducing the pollution of the medicine to the honey;
  2. Selecting improved species and breeding bee species with strong disease resistance;
  3. When it is necessary to use medicine, it should be used during the non-honey collection period. The use of antibiotics is strictly prohibited during the nectar collection period;
  4. Use "mite puff" drugs to treat mites, and resolutely ban water-soluble drugs from treating mites;
  5. Promote the use of Chinese herbal medicine to prevent bee diseases, so as to reduce the pollution of honey;
  6. Crush the medicine evenly and mix it with pollen to feed the bees. On the one hand, larvae and adult bees have to eat the pollen to receive the medicine. On the other hand, the excess medicated pollen enters the powder room and will not pollute the honey.


In the process of bee breeding, bees will inevitably suffer from diseases for one sort or another. In order to minimize economic losses, beekeepers will choose antibiotics for treatment. However, there are certain standards for the way to use and dosage of antibiotics, and the drugs should not be used randomly. I recommend that you do honey testing regularly as honey test can better monitor the antibiotic residues in honey.


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