Tutin

Tutin levels are high this year

This year higher levels than normal of tutin are being detected, especially on the east coast of the North Island of NZ.

Watch this video from the Bee Products Standards Council for a good description of tutu.

The short answer is, DON'T EAT COMB HONEY unless you have had your honey tested, and be really careful eating extracted honey that has been blended. If you are selling honey you are legally required to get your honey tested for tutin.

I also wrote about this in this

blog post

.

Toxic Honey poisoning from Tutin

From January till late May we all need to be careful of eating comb honey from hives. Toxic honey can be created from this time of year on, for the rest of the season. And it is a Big Deal - causes stupors and violent convulsions, so the websites say. Not something you want, for sure.

Toxic honey is created when there is flowering tutu around. 

Photo credits of tutu: NZ Plant Conservation Network

The passion vine hopper feeds on the tutu, then exudes a sticky honey dew substance. The bees feed on the honey dew and take it back to the hives to create honey.

Passion vine hoppers start life as fluffy little insects (which my kids called fluffy bums when they were little), then become little moth type insects that flit and bounce around.

Photo Credit of Passion vine hopper: TER:RAIN

This is a serious problem, and there is an official 

MPI Food Safety Standard

 to control it. Part of this involves testing all harvested honey for tutin, and all our honey is tested before release and sale. 

The biggest danger is eating comb honey, because the toxin is likely to be concentrated in a small part of the comb, rather than mixed with various sources as happens with extracted honey. Also, times of drought make tutin poisoning more likely, as the bees run out of other food.

For really good pictures of tutu and more detailed information see the

TER:RAIN

website.

And if you want to read the full standards check out the

NZ Food Safety document. 

If you think you have tutu around and you have beehives, the best thing to do is chop it all down.