Environment: Creating Bio-Degradability:


Bee Moth Farms to Dispose of Polyalkene Waste

and to Recover Animal Fodder

(From the Chemical Central Institute, UFSM, Santa Maria, Brazil)

[In Analogy to our Fly Maggot Farms[i]]

by Dr.rer.nat., Dr.med.h.c. Randolph Riemschneider

Prof. UFSM Brazil, em.Prof. FU Berlin

Exec. Vice Dir. of The BWW Society, USA

and The Institute for Positive Global Solutions


In this essay the author describes one possibility to get the waste problems caused by the extraordinary stability and "longevity" of the polyalkene waste (packing material) under control: Bee Moth farms, developed in the 1980s in the Farbwerke HOECHST by the author.                                           The  Redaction.


Because of their extraordinary stability and "longevity", the waste of plastic products prepared from Ziegler's polyethylene (a) and Natta's polypropylene (b) causes environmental problems – as opposed to the naturally and easily degradable packaging materials from paper and cardboard. Prof. Natta and the author (Part I, p. 148) had identified and discussed the problems resulting from (a) and (b) on the occasion of their almost annual meetings in Milan between 1951 and 1963 and had looked for solutions, for example the development of new synthetic materials on the basis of lactic acid (readily degradable since of natural origin). To better understand the solutions to the problems relating to (a) and (b) which the author had found, it is necessary to bring up his contacts with beekeepers:


So as to be able to write the essays "Do bees die from contact insecticides?" [Leipziger Bienen-Ztg. 61, 51-54 (1947)] and "Have the DDT and 666 preparations turned out to be toxic to bees, too? Which measures can be taken to avoid damaging bees?"  [Pharmazie 3, 185/6 (1948)] the author had contacted experienced beekeepers. In this connection, he learned about certain bee pests, namely bee moths (small butterflies / caterpillars) which eat away honeycombs in beehives. The beekeepers had given the author specimens of these pests for experiments in the hope that he would find a way to control them without damaging the bees. Unfortunately, this wish did not come true, but, shortly afterwards, these pests provided the author with the unexpected opportunity to solve the problems regarding (a) and (b).


In the years that followed, the author kept his eyes on these pests and brought bee moths to his lab on four occasions. The fourth time, he transported them in a polyethylene plastic bag and observed that the honeycomb-eating caterpillars had started to corrode the polyethylene transport bag.


The author systematically tested the behavior of many different caterpillars in polyethylene plastic bags. On the initiative of the author, the Crop Protection Department of Farbwerke HOECHST – jointly with Dr. Scherer and a few biologists – conducted large-scale experiments with bee moths [galleria mellonella] and other caterpillars. In the frame of his cooperation with HOECHST the author offered results in the field of Pest Control Research: DIEN-, TERPENE-group and others like Thiocarbamates, Hal-change in aromatic systems, bee moth farms etc; cf. also last paragraph.


The first bee moth farm, established at Farbwerke HOECHST between 1980 and 1990, followed the role model of the author's fly maggot farms from the years 1946 to 1989 and were most successful (Part V-A, p. 1026). At the request of Dr. Beer (Patent Department) and Dr. F. Scherer, only a very few people were informed what the bee moth farms really were about, namely to find a solution to the problems (a) and (b). At the instigation of Dr. Scherer, the biologists were told only what was absolutely necessary. The polyalkylene powders fed to the cultivated bee moths were given the numbers P 84 (for polyalkylene) and P 85 (for polypropylene). In both cases, the polyalkylenes were mixed with moistened bran, namely polyalkylene powder + moistened bran (1:1) + 0.01 % part of an "activator" X [ii] . Moist sponges (no open water containers) ensured that there was sufficient humidity in the "farm cages".


Since this type of bee moth cultivation had turned out to be successful in further experiments, drafts of patent texts were prepared in cooperation with Dr. Beer and Dr. Scherer, but patents were never applied for due to liquidation of Farbwerke HOECHST in the aftermath of the reunification of the two German states.


Dr. Beer, Dr. Scherer and the author agreed that the "successors" of Farbwerke HOECHST should not receive any information on the solution to the problems (a) and (b). The author no longer felt bound to his undertaking of confidentiality regarding thorium chemistry (Thorex process etc.: Winnacker, Riemschneider).    


Later on, the author made the results regarding (a) and (b) available to his friends in Japan and Brazil (without any contractual restraints). As agreed with Dr. Beer and Dr. Scherer, care was taken that as little information on (a) and (b) as possible should reach France[iii], the beneficiary of the HOECHST liquidation.


With the discovery and breeding of only one "polyalkenes-consuming organism" the worldwide waste problem of polyalkenes will unfortunately not be solved:  Not to forget the oceans containing already immense amounts of plastic – reaching us via the food chain.


We examined micro-plastic particles with the aid of scanning electron microscopy [SEM like 1974 collagens: /Part V-B/, p. 757 (1404a), 824-831] and found that their surface is occupied by bacteria. These bacteria obviously produce enzymes which attack and break up the hydrocarbon chains of the micro-plastic particles with the aid of O2 and metabolise the fragments. O2 consumption has been proven in WARBURG experiments.


This means plastic-consuming bacteria which help us. The relevant SEM pictures will be published elsewhere. This also means that, with micro-plastic, we encounter small "living systems" which can be distributed in the oceans and constitute means to transport "many things" with both positive and negative results: negative, for example, through distributing "dangerous germs", and positive due to consumption, i.e. elimination of plastic.


40 Years Cooperation with HOECHST

The author gives some explanations regarding his 1950 to 1990 cooperation with the German industry: Farbwerke HOECHST: The HOECHST patent office always  protected the interest of both partners: This special kind of cooperation permitted every freedom concerning publications – should the occasion arise: Patent application after discussion with Dr. Beer, patent lawyer of HOECHST –  before giving any publication or open lectures. The mentioned cooperation comprised beyond it: Delivery of any chemical compounds (also solvents in quantities for 10-15 co-workers in the meagre "post-war times") wanted by the author, every help in quantitative analytic (C,H,N,S,P,Hal,Me like Fe,Mn,V,Cr,Ge,Th....). And all this over 40 years.


Reading this: The reader of my book will better understand the meaning of "liquidation of HOECHST": not only for the author, but also in general for the German science and for other German scientists in future.  The leader of HOECHST in our times was the expert Prof. WINNACKER (not a businessman with red pencil making cuts), [iv] a true scientist.


[i]      R.Riemschneider, "75 Years Chemistry – Re-Reading", Part V-A, p 1026:  The first fly maggot farm was set up in Berlin in 1946, the second and third in 1976/77 in South America: Brazil, Argentina (with Dr.Pesserl), and the fourth in the Peoples' Republic China in 1990/91. All these fly maggot farms were for the production of protein-rich insect larvae as animal fodder (to replace fishmeal).

[ii]      to be obtained from the author upon request

[iii]     France had agreed to the reunification of the two German states only on the condition that Germany give up its valuable Deutschmark. Dr. Scherer and Dr. Beer totally agreed with the author.

[iv]     so also in the other two IG plants: BAYER resp. B A S F: with  Otto von Bayer resp. R e p p e.



[ back to "Publications & Special Reports" ]
[ BWW Society Home Page ]