Preliminary results from a massive five-year research project show that some types of Australian honey promise to be every bit as good as New Zealand’s manuka honey, when it comes to fighting bacteria.
Scientists involved in the study are calling on beekeepers from every corner of the country to continue providing honey samples from bees visiting Leptospermum plants, and they have launched a website to provide regular updates.
The research is being led by the ithree institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). It is funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Capilano Honey Ltd and Comvita Ltd under the Honey Bee & Pollination R&D Program, which is jointly funded by RIRDC and Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited.
Beekeeper and spokesman for the Program, James Kershaw, said it’s important that beekeepers don’t assume their honey’s not wanted.
“We’ve heard that some people think the Leptospermum in their area doesn’t have the right qualities – but the team collecting the samples wants to be the judge of that!” Mr Kershaw said.
“If someone has access to Leptospermum honey, they’re encouraged to send in 200-500g, some information about the collection location, and plant samples.
“From there, researchers can identify the different properties in different species and establish what’s good in particular areas.”
The new website (https://ozhoneyproject.wordpress.com) provides background and updates on the project, tracks results, and outlines how beekeepers can get involved by sending in samples or hosting researchers doing fieldwork.
With increasing microbial resistance to antibiotics world-wide, including the so called ‘last-line’ drugs, greater focus is now being given to the antimicrobial qualities of Leptospermum honey, and honey dressings are increasingly being used in hospitals and clinics to treat wound infections.
There is concern that New Zealand manuka honey production will be insufficient to meet global demand and great opportunities exist for the Australian honey industry to capitalise on the growing market for medicinal honey.
Beekeepers with access to Leptospermum honeys are encouraged to visit https://ozhoneyproject.wordpress.com for more information on the project and how to get involved, including submitting samples.
For more information about the Program, go to www.rirdc.gov.au/honeybee-pollination