Unique pollen signatures in Australian honey could help tackle a counterfeit industry

phys.org | 8/8/2018 | Staff
tanikaki (Posted by) Level 3
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Australian honey, produced from domesticated European honey bees mostly foraging in native vegetation, is unique. Under the microscope, most Australian honey samples can be distinguished from honey produced in other countries.

That's the conclusion of our study, the first systematic examination of pollen contained within Australian honey.

Honey - Retailers - Survey - Pollen - Content

We collaborated with two major honey retailers to survey the pollen content of a large number of unprocessed honey samples. We found that a unique mix of native flora gives Australian honey a distinctive pollen signature.

As fears grow about "counterfeit" or adulterated food, especially high-value foods like olive oil, coffee, saffron and honey, there's enormous benefit in preserving Australia's international reputation for high-quality products.

Honey

What makes honey?

Honey is made by bees from the sugary nectar of flowers, but nectar contains large amounts of pollen. Although honey bees make separate trips to collect nectar and pollen, the pollen we find in honey was mostly introduced by being "spilled" into the nectar, either within the flower or while a bee was collecting nectar.

Honey - Beehive - Types - Pollen - Plant

Typically, the honey produced from a single beehive will contain between 5 and 30 distinct types of pollen, each produced by a different plant species or group of closely related species.

The study of pollen in honey, known as melissopalynology, uses differences in the pollen composition of honeys to determine the geographic or botanical origins of honey samples.

Melissopalynology - Europe - Survey - Pollen - Content

Melissopalynology is widely used in Europe, but no systematic survey of the pollen content of Australian honey has ever been attempted before. Melissopalynologists put honey samples under the microscope to identify individual pollen grains, usually between 10-50 micrometres in size. We examine their shape, size, surface decoration and other morphological characteristics to determine their botanical origins.

Counterfeit food is a growing threat to both consumers and producers. Australian agricultural products have a good reputation which makes them increasingly valued in countries...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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