Acid content of Native bee honey

While we in Australia wait for the results of our submission to have our Native Bee Honey accepted as a stand-ard food, research is ongoing around the world.

Anyone who has tried stingless bee honey are aware of the sharp sour or tart taste. Our taste buds are reacting to the organic acids in the honey. These organic acids are produced from sugar in nectar during the “ripening” of honey in the hive. Bees produce and add enzymes to the honey which speeds up this conversion. The acids probably help to prevent the honey from spoiling. Brazilian food chemists have just measured the quantity of these acids in honey from four of their species. They showed that gluconic acid, lactic acid and acetic acid were predominant in all samples. Five other organic acids were also found, for the first time. The presence of the organic acids generated high levels of a measure called free acidity which varied a lot between bee species from 38 to 123 mEq kg−1.

We have found even more variation in our Australian Native Bee Honey, which ranges from 23 to 294. See the results in the article in Issue 20 of the Cross-Pollinator, April 2021, available to members here:

The maximum acidity allowed in honey bee honey under the European and international standards is 50 mEq kg−1, less than most stingless bee honeys. Next time you try stingless bee honey and taste its sharpness, you know what is behind it.

Adriane Costa dos Santos et al. (2022) Brazilian stingless bee honey: Physicochemical properties and aliphatic organic acids content, Food Research International, Volume 158, 111516
Haley D and Heard T. (2021) Microbial and physicochemical properties of honey from Australian Tetragonula and Aus-troplebeia stingless bees. The Cross-Pollinator, Issue 20, pp 3-10, Apr 2021.

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