Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research
Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences,
The University of British Columbia

Current News

Honey study with beekeeping non-profit helps Vancouver monitor air quality

March 2017 — Vancouver


PCIGR is analyzing analyzing honey from hives throughout the Lower Mainland, working in collaboration with Hives for Humanity, a non-profit organization in the Downtown Eastside that encourages community connections through beekeeping.

Researchers at PCIGR have been working on determining the concentrations of trace metals (e.g., lead, zinc, arsenic, copper and cadmium) in these challenging organic samples. The lab results show that the urban honey produced by Hives for Humanity is entirely safe for human consumption.


The research team is also measuring the Pb isotopic composition of the honey to track the sources of these metals and potential pollutants. Because bees forage in a three-kilometre radius, each hive represents a tiny sample of the local environment. As such, the results help to monitor air quality and identify various sources of pollution in Metro Vancouver. In the long-term, the study will also help establish a baseline of metal distribution across the Lower Mainland.

The honey study has just been showcased in a feature article and video by UBC Science, “A Sweet Chemical Analysis.”