Optimising bioactive content of Australian stingless bee honey

The University of Queensland

  • Project code: PRJ-012494

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, June 1, 2020

  • Project completion date: Sunday, May 30, 2021

  • Journal Articles From Project: Feeding sugars to stingless bees: the effect on honey sugar composition and beneficial trehalulose levels. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry ( submitted) (Issue: submitted on 31/12/2021)

  • National Priority: NEI - New and Emerging Industries - SM1


Trehalulose has known acariogenic properties and low glycemic index. The abundance of the novel disaccharide varies widely across the
stingless bee honey samples we have analysed. This project will identify the
optimal conditions under which the disaccharide is biologically produced and/or
metabolised (e.g. during prolonged storage in the hive or post-harvest), and
will examine the content of honey from all three major Australian stingless bee
species. Establishing in-hive production/storage conditions to enable optimal
abundance of the disaccharide to prevail will provide a protocol for: 1)
standardisation of stingless bee honey, 2) increasing the therapeutic and
economic value of stingless bee honey, and 3) providing a reproducible marker
for differentiation of this premium product. The presence of this distinctive
bioactive sugar with therapeutic properties provides a ready and valuable
authenticity marker for stingless bee honey, to guard against substitution
and/or adulteration. However in order for industry development to be achieved,
it is also essential that a stingless bee honey standard be developed so that
apiarists can legally market their high value product. Various standards have
been implemented around the world to define honey, which generally only relate
to Honeybee (Apis mellifera) honey. Stingless honey does not meet these
standards and new standards need to be developed.


New and Emerging Industries

Research Organisation

The University of Queensland

Objective Summary

Objectives for this study:

  1. Identify conditions under which maximal bioactive disaccharide is formed and retained in stingless bee honey.
  2. Examine the relative production of short chain fatty acids in stingless bee honey under the same conditions. A variety of sour and tangy tastes are developed through bacterial fermentation of stingless bee honey. The sour, citrus flavours can be very pleasing to honey connoisseurs, and are thought to be linked to acetic, lactic and other acid production in the honey.
  3. Work with keepers of stingless bee hives to translate identified conditions into workable hive/honey production quality control criteria to produce stingless bee honey with optimised and standardised bioactive content.
  4. Work with Australian Native Bee Association (ANBA) in the development of a Food Standard based on this novel disaccharide as a marker for this premium product.