The Case of the Missing Bees
High Fructose Corn Syrup and Colony Collapse Disorder
Food Group Technical Center
J. R. Simplot
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has claimed approximately one-third of the commercial honeybee population in recent years. A number of causes have been suggested for this phenomenon, including the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by the bees. This directed case investigates the issues and chemistry that might be involved in CCD related to HFCS. The case was developed for use in an undergraduate organic chemistry or food chemistry course.
- To familiarize students with the methods by which rigorous and less rigorous scientific research is conducted.
- To illustrate the difficulties involved in establishing a single cause for a vitally important scientific question.
- To allow students to see the difficulties that arise when "spin" is used to cast doubt on scientific research and its conclusions.
- To let students critically evaluate the conclusions drawn by diverse groups of people who all have access to the same data.
KeywordsBees; honeybee; colony collapse disorder; fructose; corn syrup; HFCS-55; 5-hydoxymethylfurfural; HMF; sucrose; sugar; starch; monosaccharides; hydrolysis; enol-keto tautomerization; enzymes; beekeeping; apiculture; Corn Refiners Association; insects
Topical AreasScientific method
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDirected
Subject HeadingsOrganic Chemistry | Biochemistry | Chemistry (General) | Food Science / Technology | Agriculture | Nutrition | Biology (General) | Science (General) | Botany / Plant Science | Toxicology |