Stingless bees (Meliponini), with 500 known species, occur in tropical/sub-tropical regions and their honey has long been prized by Indigenous communities worldwide for its health benefits.1 However, a stingless beehive generates less than a kilogram of honey per year. Examination of this honey from 5 species, found high levels of an unusual disaccharide, which was isolated, and identified as the sucrose isomer, trehalulose. Analysis of 36 honey samples showed that trehalulose, which has known beneficial bioactive properties, was the dominant sugar. Recent work aims to identify the origin of trehalulose and how to optimise its levels in stingless bee honey.

  • Heard, T., The Australian Native Bee Book. Keeping stingless bee hives for pets, pollination and sugarbag honey. Sugarbag Bees: West End, Queensland, 2016.

Dr Natasha Hungerford​

Natasha is a Research Fellow in the Natural Toxin group within the QAAFI Centre for Animal Science, based at the Health and Food Sciences Precinct (Cooper's Plains). She an organic chemist with an interest in natural products and is utilising analytical techniques such as liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, to look at natural toxins found in certain plants, such as pyrrolizidine alkaloids and simplexin.  Current research aims to mitigate the effects of Pimelea plant toxins on cattle. Further collaborative projects involve the analysis of Australian honey and the novel beneficial properties of stingless bee honey.

Dr Natasha Hungerford​Research Fellow,
Centre for Animal Science​, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

E: n.hungerford@uq.edu.au T: +61 7 344 32473

Media on the topic:
Science sweetens native honey health claims

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Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation hosts science seminars across the disciplines of animal, horticulture, crop, food and nutritional sciences.

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The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.