Science and Nature

Researchers Clear up Mystery of How Stingless Bees Invent Trehalulose-Smartly to envision Honey

Natural chemists on the University of Queensland dangle found that an fresh bioactive disaccharide known as trehalulose, which is a characteristic of stingless bee honey, whereas not dominant in any different meals, is produced in the gut of stingless bees.

Tetragonula carbonaria combs. Image credit: Tobias Smith.

Tetragonula carbonaria combs. Image credit rating: Tobias Smith.

Stingless bees belong to Meliponini, a tribe of over 500 bee species found all over tropical and subtropical parts of the sphere.

Honey produced by stingless bees is identified by varied names honest like Meliponine honey, pot-honey, sugarbag honey (in Australia), and Kelulut honey (in Malaysia).

The more successfully-acknowledged European honeybees (Apis mellifera) make considerably more honey, and are the sphere’s major honey manufacturing species.

However, stingless bee honey is extremely prized as a specialty meals and is mighty in Indigenous cultures for its medicinal properties and attracts a high tag.

In 2020, University of Queensland researchers found that up to 85% of sugar in stingless bee honey is trehalulose, not maltose as beforehand notion.

“Trehalulose is more slowly digested and there is not very the unexpected spike in blood glucose that you get from different sugars,” acknowledged lead creator Dr. Natasha Hungerford, a researcher in the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation on the University of Queensland.

“The origin of this uncommon sugar had been a puzzle for the reason that discovery of high stages of sugar trehalulose in stingless bee honey.”

“We did not know if the trehalulose become coming from an exterior source — per chance from native flora.”

Dr. Hungerford and colleagues aimed to uncover if the trehalulose stammer material in stingless bee honey would possibly be increased, doubtlessly making the honey more treasured.

“We fed confined colonies of the Australian stingless bee Tetragonula carbonaria primarily the most total sugars found in flower nectar — sucrose, glucose and fructose,” Dr. Hungerford acknowledged.

“What we found is that stingless bees dangle a special skill to transform sucrose to trehalulose and make honey rich in trehalulose of their gut.”

The researchers furthermore found that stingless bees fed a resolution containing table sugar would possibly convert it into a honey containing high stages of trehalulose.

“However the honey they make from table sugar does not meet the necessities of staunch stingless bee honey which is fabricated from nectar,” Dr. Hungerford acknowledged.

“The honey we produced in the lab is really wrong honey, and we were in a web page online to distinguish it from pure honey by isotopic sorting out.”

“This trehalulose-rich syrup that become produced would possibly be regarded as a seemingly secondary fabricated from stingless bees, but it is not honey. It’s a long way furthermore not factual for the health of the hive to feed the bees easiest table sugar.”

“Honey contains a fancy range of phytochemicals from nectar, making it vitally critical for brood rearing and the growth of the colony inhabitants.”

The results were printed in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Natasha L. Hungerford et al. Feeding Sugars to Stingless Bees: Identifying the Origin of Trehalulose-Smartly to envision Honey Composition. J. Agric. Food Chem, printed on-line August 12, 2021; doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.1c02859

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