Development of honeybee products from a biodiversity hotspot

University of Western Australia

  • Project code: PRJ-010313

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016

  • Project completion date: Friday, May 15, 2020

  • National Priority: HBE-Identify and develop technology for improved hive performance.


Western Australia is a biodiversity hot spot of endemic flora. This opens the opportunity for beekeepers to create unique products with different health attributes. The experience Western Australia has already gained through the development of the Jarrah honey as a unique chemically-pure product with both antibacterial and anti-oxidant activity provides the impetus to brand and market other sources.
This project will screen Western Australian honey for bioactivity from across the floral range. To ensure honey floral source accuracy, pollen traps will be set to confirm the floral species contributing to the honey. This collection will be done in conjunction with the West Australian beekeeper group and Department of Parks and Wildlife.
All honeys will be assessed for their anti-microbial activity, which in most honeys, is due to the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. However, non-peroxide honeys (of which Manuka honey is one) can display significant antibacterial effects even when the hydrogen peroxide activity is blocked. Alternate mechanisms will be investigated, including methyl glyoxal (MGO) levels, pH and sugar content (osmolarity).
Honey is rich in phenolic acids and flavonoids, which exhibit a wide range of biological effects and act as natural antioxidants. The tendency of Western Australian honeys to be darker in colour suggests that this may be an important attribute in the region and can contribute to anti-oxidant activity, both of which will be measured in this project.
This information will provide the basis for market stratification planned for the WA beekeeper cooperative which is focussing on the export market.


Honey Bee

Research Organisation

University of Western Australia

Objective Summary

Support the development of Australian apiary products
Scientific research support higher process of apiary products
The broad aim of this research project is to characterise the spectrum of antimicrobial activity and composition of Western Australian honeys. This research will be conducted in the context of stratifying collection of honey for the development of new products to add value to the beekeeping industry. With south Western Australia’s status of being disease free and the use of anti-biotics banned, this project is to enhance the profitability of beekeeping by lifting the profile of honey as a medicinal product.
The major objectives of this research are to;
(1) Conduct a thorough investigation of the antimicrobial activity of Western Australian honey
(2) Characterise the physicochemical properties of the honeys from each flora source and determine whether these correlate with antimicrobial activity
(3) Compare the activity of WA honeys to commercial medicinal honey and pasture honey and evaluate the medicinal niche of WA honeys based on the antimicrobial data.
(4) Compare the anti-oxidant activity and phenolic compound content
(5) Investigate the logistics of developing a medicinal honey product for the export market (quality control and resource).
The outcomes of this project will be rigorous scientific data characterising the antimicrobial activity and physicochemical characteristics of WA honeys.
In addition, these data will provide a greater understanding by all interested parties of the antimicrobial potential of WA honey and may provide the basis of value-added products for the industry.