From biomedicine to buzz pollination: why we need a plan 'bee'

phys.org | 6/17/2019 | Staff
gracey (Posted by) Level 3
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With Extinction Rebellion's mass bee-themed 'die ins' hitting the international news, we're reminded again that our bees are facing many threats—from climate change and loss of native plants to food fights with honey bees.

As pollinators, bees are responsible for many of our plants flowering and for many of the fruits and veggies in our diet.

Course - Thanks

And of course, it's thanks to them we have honey.

But have we underestimated the humble bee? Researchers report that some Australian honeys act as a potent antimicrobial agent, with amazing healing properties.

Use - Honey - Change - Future - Bee

Will a new use for honey change the future of the bee?

The use of honey as a medicine goes back to more than 2000 BC. A Sumerian tablet mentions honey as a drug and ointment. Around 322BC, Aristotle describes honey as being "good as a salve for sore eyes and wounds".

Honey - Bees - NSW - Queensland - Pollen

Honey bees in NSW and Queensland are busy collecting the pollen that creates manuka honey, well known in New Zealand for its healing properties.

According to a recent report, Australian manuka honey also has long-lasting antibacterial properties. It's even effective against so-called superbugs, such as golden staph.

Study - Professor - Liz - Harry - University

The study, led by Professor Liz Harry from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), studied over 80 samples, mostly from the Northern Rivers region of NSW.

"We are specifically studying manuka honey because it is a particularly potent antimicrobial honey," says Daniel Bouzo, a Ph.D. candidate at UTS working alongside Professor Harry.

Honey - Levels - Compound - Methylglyoxal - MGO

They found most of the studied honey contained very high levels of a compound called methylglyoxal (MGO). This chemical is well known for its strong antibacterial properties, however Daniel says it's not just about this chemical.

"MGO is widely considered to be the factor that drives the antimicrobial activity of manuka honey, but our data suggests that it is not the case for all bacteria."

Bacteria - Wound

Some bacteria, like those infecting a wound,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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