Honey is full of proteins, but sugar in the sticky substance makes studying these proteins difficult. Now a scientist has found a way to extract proteins from honey and uncover the bees' encounter around the world.
Rocío Cornero, a biochemical researcher at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, is studying proteins in honey. Cornero described her unpublished work December 9th at the annual joint meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology and the European Molecular Biology Organization.
Hobby beekeepers often don't understand what the bees are burdened with in their beehives, be it lack of water, hunger or an infection with pathogens, says Cornero, whose father kept the bees before his death earlier this year.
Cornero says: "What we see in honey can tell us a story about the health of this colony."
Bees are like miniature scientists who fly and take samples in a wide variety of environmental conditions, says cell biologist Lance Liotta, Cornero's mentor at George Mason. While the bees digest pollen, soil and water, protein parts from other organisms, including fungi, bacteria and viruses, also get into the insect's stomach. In turn, honey is basically bee-wrecked, says Liotta, and contains a record of virtually everything the bee has come into contact with, as well as proteins from the bees themselves.
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