Optimising bioactive content of Australian stingless bee honey


Trehalulose has known acariogenic properties and low glycemic index. Several patents have been lodged for trehalulose as a functional food ingredient and for blood glucose control but none of these pertain to the previously unknown natural occurrence of trehalulose in stingless bee honey. 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 postharvest), and will examine the content of honey from all three major Australian stingless bee species. Establishing inhive 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.

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Monday, June 1, 2020

Project Completion Date

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

National Priority

Adoption of R&D

National Priority

NEI - New and Emerging Industries - SM1