The Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bees

13 09 2012

In honor of the Jewish New Year, here are the top honeybee innovations from the land of milk and honey.

Honey and Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year – are inseparable because of the tradition of eating honey-drizzled apples to herald a sweet year. In the month of holidays beginning with Rosh Hashanah (this year, Sunday night September 16), Israelis will be consuming 1,600 tons of the sweet stuff produced by 100,000 beehives.

Not merely a yummy treat, honey possesses healthful anti-inflammatory and antibiotic substances. Israeli researchers are at the forefront of learning how to raise the most vigorous bees and use their honey (and pollinating powers) for the good of humankind.

Who needs cough syrup when you’ve got pure honey from nature? A recent Israeli study proved that a spoonful of honey can improve childhood symptoms of the common cold in a much safer way than over-the-counter medications.

The study from the Pediatric Community Ambulatory Care Clinic at Clalit Health Services in Petah Tikvah, published in Pediatrics, was based on a trial where coughing children were given a single dose of either eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, labiatae honey or a date syrup before going to sleep. Parents who gave their children honey reported significant improvement in cough frequency, severity and sleep quality.

2. Israeli honey strengthens cancer patients

LifeMel honey is produced by bees fed on a special nectar from 40 therapeutic herbs.
LifeMel honey is produced by bees fed on a special nectar from 40 therapeutic herbs.

Thirty years of research went into developing LifeMel Honey, which is produced by bees fed on a special nectar derived from 40 therapeutic herbs including Siberian ginseng, Echinacea, uncaria tomentosa, and natural sources of iron, protein and vitamins. This Israeli honey from Zuf Globus Laboratories has been shown in one small clinical trial to be effective in decreasing the incidence of anemia in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

According to the study published in the Journal of Medical Oncology, two teaspoons a day of LifeMel also lowered the incidence of potentially fatal thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets). The product is sold also in North America, the United Kingdom and online.

3. Spread some honey on that cut

Honey is a traditional remedy for the treatment of infected wounds. Israeli medical researchers, including Dr. Jacob Golan, head of plastic surgery at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, have investigated that piece of folk medicine scientifically. In the early 1980s, experimenters inflicted small skin wounds on two groups of mice. They treated one group’s wounds with conventional products, and the other with ordinary honey. The honey-treated mice healed much more quickly than the other group.

What makes it work? Honey has low levels of hydrogen peroxide, and some strains have an additional phytochemical antibacterial ingredient. Also, honey tends to absorb the moisture that bacteria need to grow and spread.

Research suggests that honey can also help infected wounds. Photo by
Research suggests that honey can also help infected wounds. Photo by

4. Remebee

Several viruses are devastating bees around the world in the past few years, including a strain that causes colony collapse disorder (CCD). Fewer bees greatly affects honey production as well as all food production that requires pollination – from fruits and nuts to the dairy and beef cows that feed on alfalfa.
Beeologics was founded in 2007 in Israel to address the problem with nontoxic products developed by virologists and microbiologists. With offices and labs in Miami and in Rehovot, Israel, the company was acquired by Monsanto in 2011. The lead product, Remebee, is an anti-viral treatment under research for honeybees affected with Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV). Remebee is currently in regulatory trials with beekeepers across the United States. Meanwhile, the next generation of Remebee, still in the lab, could potentially protect honeybees from up to seven different viruses.

The Israeli company CartaSense found a novel solution for monitoring bee colonies to protect them from theft and CCD: chip-based sensors placed below the hive in a thin platform to track the hive’s weight gain as it gets inhabited by bees and their honey.

Using BeeConnect can help beekeepers detect any changes in normal hive growth. Photo by
Using BeeConnect can help beekeepers detect any changes in normal hive growth. Photo by

The Bee Connect product immediately detects any deviations from normal hive growth, alerting beekeepers via a daily report. It also tracks bee movement inside the hive, as well as temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels, and provides a way to track a stolen hive.

6. Tree from Down Under helps Israel’s honeybees

Australian eucalyptus trees blossom all year round.
Australian eucalyptus trees blossom all year round.

Most of Israel’s trees and shrubs flower in the spring, leaving beekeepers scrambling to keep their honeybees fed during the other three seasons. About 12 years ago, Israeli researchers began introducing Australian eucalyptus trees, which produce nectar- and pollen-filled blooms from April to September. Two years of extensive testing pinpointed just the right species that Israeli bees find tasty, and that are drought-resistant.

Since then, one million eucalyptus seedlings have been raised in Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund nurseries for Israel’s beekeepers. The variety of bee-friendly trees was later expanded to include some indigenous species such as a carob that produces many flowers attractive to bees. Jordanian beekeepers also benefited from the project.

7. Beehave

Since 1994, researchers at the Hebrew University have been studying bee behavior in the humorously named Beehave lab — a glassed-in hall associated with the Center for the Study of Rationality. Beehave allows ecologists to study the decision-making processes of bees, particularly with regard to foraging for food.

Beehave bees flit around artificial flowers that are actually computerized devices to record bee visits and control feeding times and amounts. Observation of decision-making by bees may provide a basis for studying how other animals and people – and even computers — make optimal and consistent decisions. Beehave also enables the scientists to test whether bees can sharpen their flight dynamics and arithmetic skills.

8. More effective bees

Triwaks scientists have found ways to increase effective bee pollination. Photo by
Triwaks scientists have found ways to increase effective bee pollination. Photo by

The Hebrew University’s Triwaks Bee Research Center in Rehovot collaborates with researchers from other institutions in Israel and abroad to study honeybee decision-making processes and use that information toward smart solutions for agricultural problems such as low-yielding crops. This is of great significance around the world, because crop and flower pollination by bees sustains about one-third of the human diet.

Triwaks scientists have found ways to increase effective bee pollination and orchard yields by 50-100%, and have devised supplementary nutrition formulas for honeybee colonies that are used throughout Israel. In addition, they discovered a way to use bees as delivery vehicles for bio-control agents in strawberry fields; and are exploring possibilities for using “gene silencing” to improve bee health.

9. Almonds and honeybees 4-ever

Why does the nectar of almond trees contain an extraordinary substance that is harmless and very attractive to honeybees, but is poisonous to other creatures? Whatever the reason, almond trees cannot produce fruit without honeybees. In fact, California almond growers import truckloads of honeybees during the almond’s flowering season, so as to ensure pollination.

Trying to understand this phenomenon, two years ago University of Haifa environmental and evolutionary biology researchers exposed honeybees to plates of nectar that had varying concentrations of the toxin and a plate of nectar without the toxin. The bees always preferred the almond-derived nectar with the toxin, leading the researchers to speculate that this unusual substance keeps away ineffective pollinators in favor of the “expert” honeybees.

The nectar of almond trees contain a substance that is harmless to honeybees but poisonous to other creatures. Photo by
The nectar of almond trees contain a substance that is harmless to honeybees but poisonous to other creatures. Photo by

10. Prehistoric Israeli honey

The honey mentioned 22 times in Hebrew Scriptures, most famously to describe Israel as “a land flowing with milk and honey,” has always been assumed to refer to date honey – still a popular Israeli product – rather than honey produced by bees.

However, five years ago, Hebrew University archeologists discovered a 3,000-year-old apiary in the Iron Age ruins of Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley. The million or more bees kept in 100 to 200 clay cylinders at this oldest known commercial apiary in the world were most likely imported from Turkey, suggesting a surprisingly sophisticated business setup for its time.

Honey, it seems, was one of the very first products of the “startup nation” long before the advent of technology.

Thank you israel21c for the story.

Cooking Oil – The Perfect Pesticide

29 03 2012

Oil-based pest control is simple and inexpensive

Thin-skinned vegetables such as tomatoes and zucchini are susceptible to insect infestation and fungi, and even new organic pesticides are not completely safe, says Israeli agriculture scientist Samuel Gan-Mor.

He’s got a new approach that could revolutionize the way bugs are kept from crops: a mixture of edible, off-the-shelf canola or rapeseed oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil and even the slightly more expensive olive oil.

The advanced sprayer is part of the package containing the blend of oils, along with an emulsifier. The product is being marketed as a new organic pesticide alternative that is 100 percent safe, even if used minutes before harvest. Chemical pesticides require a “cooling off” period between application and harvesting because of the health risks involved to people and wildlife.

Smaller farms could share a sprayer machine, and basic materials are cheap – about $1 a liter for the oil, which is heavily diluted with water. All that’s needed besides the solution is access to electricity to run the sprayer.

“The oil blends could be created to match the crop or the insect,” says Gan-Mor, who continues to work on making the agriculture industry less toxic to humankind.

For further reading click here

Black Tomato Coming to a Salad Near You

14 02 2012

Black Galaxy: the new crossbreed - which includes blueberry pigment - may be more nutritious than a regular tomato

Everyone knows that Israeli food is scrumptious, fresh and flavorsome. It’s also highly innovative.

At the annual Arava Agricultural R&D exhibition – which took place earlier this month -visitors were wowed by new edible produce including a black tomato, rainbow colored carrots and red lemons.

Over 250 companies from Israel and around the world participated in the expo.

The new species of fruits and vegetables are set for export. And in addition to adding a splash of color to the salad bowl, the new produce reportedly packs more vitamins and antioxidants into its fruit/vegetable.

Rainbow carrots Photo: Bareket Tal

“Black Galaxy” tomato was developed by Technological Seeds DM. The company says that the color was derived from a pigment in blueberries and that the new species has higher concentrations of Vitamin C as found in regular tomatoes.

Among other new edible creations, the show featured the latest agro-tech developments including thermal plant imaging and a crop dusting robot.

Thank you for the story

Did You Know?…

12 01 2012


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As a country, Israel is defined by its collective successes and what follows is but a small sampling of that:

• Ten Israelis have won the Nobel Prize so far.

• Israel is a leader in quality of life. In a comparison conducted by the UN regarding quality of life in 182 countries, Israel ranked 27th, only slightly lower than the UK.

• Israel’s healthcare system is one of the most advanced in the world.

• Israel is a leader in biotechnology development.

• Israeli medical developments are used in the best operating rooms across the world.

• Israeli cows produce the largest amount and highest quality of milk in the world.

• Israel is the only country that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees.

• Israel is one of the world’s top leaders in agricultural development and fruit cloning.

• A quarter of the population holds a degree – ranking third in the world.

• Israel produces more scientific papers and more patents per capita than any other country.

• Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant- absorbing nation, has more museums per capita and receives more media coverage than any other country in the world.

• Israel has sent emergency delegations around the world to assist foreign governments in times of major disaster including but not limited to Cambodia, Rwanda, Turkey, Argentina, Armenia, Russia, Kenya, New Orleans, Haiti, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand.

• The IDF was the first major medical team to set up camp immediately following the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

• The World Economic Forum has recognized Israel as one of the leading countries in the world in technological innovation.

• The cell phone, disk on key, instant messenger chat, voicemail technology and PillCam were all developed in Israel. The Pentium4 processor was designed and developed in Israel as well.

• Microsoft and Cisco built their largest R&D centers in Israel.

• Apple chose Israel as its first and only R&D center outside the US.

• Israel has the world’s highest percentage of engineers and scientists.

• Israel is a leader in genetics and preventive medicine.

• Israel sends hundreds of missions to developing countries worldwide.

• Israeli agricultural experts introduced drip-irrigation technology, saving water in arid regions.

• An Israeli company recently discovered a way to eradicate the use of pesticides for pest control by using edible oil instead.

• A simple, inexpensive Israeli solution for storing staples is helping Africans, South Americans and Asians survive food shortages.

• Except for the US and Canada, Israel has the most traded companies on Wall Street than any other country.

• Israel is a leader in coexistence programs that bring together Arabs and Jews.

• Israel has an incredible array of institutions that focus on charitable outreach and offering help to the needy.

• Israel is unique in terms of its size, location and diversity of climate and wildlife.

• Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo is involved in worldwide breeding efforts and to reintroduce animals to their natural habitats.

• Israel is the only place where biblical history really comes alive.

• While far from perfect, the Knesset is an anomaly in the Middle East. Its makeup of Arabs and Jews, Secular and Orthodox and men and women makes Israel a unique liberal democracy – in fact the only one in the Middle East.

• Israel’s military prowess and might is world renowned. It is a leading force in battlefield technology, counterterrorism, combat skills, intelligence gathering and air superiority. The Mossad is likely the world’s top intelligence agency, unsurpassed in its ability to gather information from around the globe.

For all these reasons and more, it is important to recognize and appreciate that with all its problems, Israel is a great country.

Thank you Jpost for the article.

Israel’s New Winter Fruit

5 01 2012

If you ask any Israeli during the winter time what he misses the most, he will probably say “a big red delicious watermelon!”

Now their prayers are answered!  The new yellow-orange watermelon will transport you back to the sweet fruits of summer. The new fruit is a joint venture between farmer Itay Gal from Moshav Ein Yahav in the Arava Desert  and Hishtil Nurseries.

The new fruit is oval shaped with a bottle green rind and dark green stripes. This new watermelon is firm, crisp and more sweet than the usual summer red watermelon. The average weight of an orange watermelon is 6.6 lbs making it much easier to carry home and store in your home refrigerator.

Grown hanging in hothouses the melons are wrapped in the early stages of growth in a mesh bag to protect them from damage. The mesh bag remains on the fruit all the the way to market shelf…and on to your refrigerator.

“Continued Agricultural Innovation is the Key to Meeting Growing Global Demand”

15 12 2011

Monsanto and Evogene Ltd. announced today a one-year extension to their five-year research and development collaboration focused on identifying key plant genes related to yield, environmental stress and fertilizer utilization in corn, soybean, cotton and canola. The companies recently announced the successful completion of the collaboration’s third year.

Ofer Haviv, Evogene’s President and CEO stated, “We are delighted by this extension of our joint work with Monsanto and in particular with the addition of our Gene2Product computational technologies. We expect that by bringing together Monsanto’s development expertise and these new Evogene technologies, in addition to those already utilized in the collaboration, the companies will be able to further address some of the key challenges that the seed industry is facing in the discovery and development process for biotechnology products in agriculture”.

“Continued agricultural innovation is the key to meeting growing global demand, which is why productive collaborations like this one are critical,” added Bob Reiter, Vice President and Global Lead of Biotechnology for Monsanto Company. “By combining Evogene’s innovative gene discovery technologies with Monsanto’s trait development expertise, we’ll ultimately be able to better deliver products to help farmers increase their productivity”.

Evogene, based in Rehovot, Israel is a world leading developer of improved plant traits, such as yield and drought tolerance, for a wide diversity of key crops through the use of plant genomics. The company focuses on utilizing its proprietary computational genomic technologies to provide a complete solution for plant trait improvement through combining state of the art biotechnology and advanced breeding methods.


Modern ‘rain dance’ for Senegal

15 09 2011

Most of the farmers in Senegal rely on rainwater to grow their maize. But rain-fed crops make for an unreliable harvest, especially in a changing climate. In addition, traditional seeds, pesticides and chemicals are causing damage to water and resources.  The solution? Israeli drip irrigation.

“We’ve developed a system which can bring a model or solution for sustainable development in the rural areas in south Saharan Africa, and in developing countries where there is no agriculture,” says Ilan Fluss, director of external affairs for the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s MASHAV Center for International Cooperation.

Standing about one yard off the ground, the Israeli drip irrigation system, called Tipa (“Drop”), includes a cement reservoir, a water pump (that can be operated by hand, solar power pump or diesel generator) and plastic irrigation pipes. Gravity sends the water right to the roots of the plants, minimizing evaporation, soil leaching and the need for high volumes of pesticides and fertilizers.

“We’ve given them a system that can use land that looks impossible to use,” says Fluss. “One can use this system on degraded land that is not very fertile.”

The Israeli system has allowed 700 farming families in the Senegalese regions of Ngoe, M’bassis, Daptior, Keur Yaba and Mbisau to reap crops three times a year instead of just once, and to experiment with higher-value crops to sell in local markets providing a complete, sustainable source of income for small farms, a majority of which are maintained by women.

So successful has been this Israeli model, which is supported by low-interest loans from third-party NGOs in the region, that other farmers in the project areas have copied it.

Furthermore, the Israeli project will now be part of the country’s national strategy for development, Fluss reveals. Through a trilateral partnership including Israel, Italy and the Senegalese government, Tipa will be extended to some 500 hectares of land and will directly benefit 10,000 more people.

Farmers inspecting how the Tipa system will bring just right amount of water to the roots

For further reading please click here