National Organic Standards Board Honey Task Force Outline – AOS Apiculture Section

AOS Apiculture Section


1.1.1. Sources. Bees may be designated as organic livestock and products obtained from them can be sold, labeled or represented as organically produced, if managed in accordance with organic standards for at least 60 days prior to the collection of organic apiculture products.
1.1.2. Forage. Bees from which organic honey and other products are harvested shall have access to forage produced in accordance with organic standards, provided that the hives are located on certified land and are not within 2 miles of a sanitary landfill, incinerator, power plant, golf course, town or city, crops sprayed with prohibited substances, genetically modified crops, or other sources of contamination, as described in the Organic Livestock Plan approved by the certification agent. The minimum distance may be increased by the certification agent, if deemed necessary, on a case by case basis. Feeding of bee colonies where conditions require reserves to be built up for winter may be undertaken. Feeding must be carried out between the last honey harvest and the period of dormancy of the colony. Feed should be derived from organic honey or organic sugar syrup, but non-organic honey or sugar syrup is allowed on a temporary and limited basis with written justification of need and documentation of the lack of organic feed sources, and must be approved by the certification agent. The feeding of non-organic honey or sugar syrup is prohibited when honey supers are in place or during the 30 days preceding the placement of honey supers on the hive.
1.1.3. The health of bee colonies should be maintained by good apiary practices. These include: The use of hardy breeds that adapt well to the local conditions; Regular renewal of queen bees; Regular cleaning and disinfection of equipment; Use of non-contaminated foundation wax; Destruction of contaminated materials; Regular renewal of beeswax; and Availability in hives of sufficient pollen and honey.
1.1.4. The following are not allowed in managing organic apiaries: Acknowledging the presence of pests, parasites or diseases without efforts to restore the health of the colony; The use of prohibited pesticides for the prevention or control of pests or parasites; Using antibiotics, sulfa products or any drug not specifically allowed by these standards or that is not on the National List of synthetic substances allowed for organic livestock production; Use of pressure treated lumber for hive construction materials; Use of chemical bee repellents; Wing clipping; and The cycling of hives between conventional and organic management.
1.1.5. Honey Handling An operation which processes or handles organic honey must be in compliance with all applicable handling requirements of these organic standards. If a facility processes both organic and non-organic honey, all equipment, including containers and lines used to transport and/or store honey, must be completely emptied and cleaned prior to processing organic honey. Equipment which comes in contact with honey must be made of stainless steel, glass, or other food grade materials.