Beekeepers say tainted bee pollen is in our food supply

Researchers found average of six pesticides in each pollen sample tested

Florida beekeepers are convinced honey bees are contaminating the food supply with the very pesticides and chemicals used to protect the bees and crops from mites and insects.

Davey Hackenberg, a second-generation bee keeper with Apiaries in Dade City, Florida and Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, said the pesticides and herbicides are needed but that the amounts being used are alarming.

“The first time I heard (of) systemic chemicals, I’m a dumb farm boy, but systemic means you and I are going to eat this stuff because it goes up in the plant and out in the fruit,” he said.

In a study conducted by Penn State University, researchers analyzed 1,300 pollen samples and found 91 percent of the samples were contaminated with pesticides.

On average, according to the study, there were six pesticides in each pollen sample, with some pollen showing 31 different pesticides.

Hackenberg said the combination of mites and chemicals present a grim future for a major portion of our food supply. 

“Fifteen to 20 years ago we were running 3,200 hives of bees, now I can barely keep 1,500 alive,” Hackenberg said.

Jim Cutway, owner of Myakka’s Gold Apiary in Manatee County, blames the increased chemical levels on the pressure to produce.

“We’re trying to produce more food on land than what the land is supposed to produce naturally," Cutway said. "So we have to over fertilize, we have to over pesticide, we have to over herbicide and when the beekeepers bring the bees in to do to the pollinations, the bees are now exposed to it.”

“It’s scary, I mean I got four children, ” Hackenberg said. “Right now, there’s no way to stop it, the amount of chemicals that are in our water and our food supply is just devastating.”

Researchers with Florida-based Bees Vita Plus have developed a nutritional system for honey bees that appears to be reversing the impact of the systemic chemicals.

Hackenberg and Garry Oreskovic, of Honey Land Farms, both have seen a marked improvement in their respective bee populations.

“One out of three bites of food that we eat is generally produced by food pollination," Oreskovik said. "Within seven days, the bees looked healthier.”

According to the website, the supplement has a shelf life of two years.

For more information on the supplement go to

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.