Hop-Based Pesticide Could Help Fight Colony Collapse Disorder

Bees. Nature's pollinators, honey makers, and wing shakers. They're one of man's greatest resources and one of the oldest insects we have exploited.

But they are constantly under attack by pests, including the Varroa destructor mite: a parasite that infests a honey bee colony and is believed to contribute to colony collapse disorder. There are ways of handling these pests, though they've mostly been synthetic-chemical-based, through physical means, or derived from herbal essential oils.

Now there's another tool in the fight against pests: a hop-based pesticide. Yes, the same ingredient that gives beer its signature bitterness is now being used as a pesticide to help save bees.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released a final ruling on the use of hop derived pesticides in fighting the pernicious mites.

From the ruling:

This regulation establishes an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of the biochemical pesticide potassium salts of hops beta acids in or on honey and honeycomb for the control of Varroa mites in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices. Interregional Research Project Number 4, on behalf of Beta Tec Hop Products, Inc., submitted a petition to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), requesting an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance. This regulation eliminates the need to establish a maximum permissible level for residues of potassium salts of hops beta acids in or on honey and honeycomb.

Some history: On September 5, 2014, BetaTec Hop Products Inc. asked for a pesticide tolerance petition. It took a year for the EPA to determine that the chemical was safe "through food, drinking water, and through other exposures" in humans.

For the nerds out there, what the study found was this: "K-HBAs are derived from the resin components of the cones of female hop plants Humulus lupulus. The three major components of K-HBAs are Lupulone (30-55% with an isopropyl side chain), Colupulone (20-55% with an isobutyl side chain), and Adlupulone (5-10% with a secbutyl side chain); the components differ only in the R-side chain attached. K-HBA is classified as a biochemical pesticide because it is naturally occurring (found in Humulus lupulus plant), has a non-toxic mode of action against the target pest, and has a history of exposure to humans and the environment demonstrating minimal toxicity. There is a long history of safe use of HBAs via the oral and dietary exposure to humans from its use as a preservative on meats (estimated range 4.4 milligrams/kilograms (mg/kg) of cooked meat - 5.5 mg/kg of frankfurter) and its presence in the beer brewing process. Due to its long history of exposure, K-HBAs are considered to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by FDA."

Now, apiarists have another "natural" way to help combat these stupid mites. It's pretty cool to see how the natural preservative nature of hops works on different levels. We've even included the full report for your reading pleasure.

Also, where can I get this hoppy hot dog the FDA is talking about?


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