Shelf-life and Variances in Antimicrobial Properties of Honey from M. bocandei and M. ferruginea in Central Ghana

Authors:  C. L. Cockburn, P. K. Kwapong, D. A. Wubah, and J. A. Wubah
Date:  January 2013


Many anthropological and biological studies detail indigenous people’s use of stingless bee honey to treat various ailments, such as bacterial infections, sore throats, and digestive diseases. The purpose of this study was to examine the optimum storage method of stingless bee honey produced by Meliponula bocandei and Meliponula ferruginea in Central Ghana, near Kakum National Park. Additionally, another of the study’s goals was to determine whether increased shelf-time would affect the honey’s antimicrobial properties during a series of bioassays against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an infectious bacterial species showing increasing resistance to man-made antibiotics. Over three weeks, no significant difference was observed between two types of storage—covering the bottle in aluminum foil to prevent sunlight from entering or leaving the honey exposed to the light (p>0.05). There was, however, a significant difference between the two species’ honey in terms of pH, moisture content, and antimicrobial efficacy (all p<0.001). Honey produced by M. ferruginea had a significantly higher pH and moisture content than M. bocandei honey and did not have any antimicrobial activity against P. aeruginosa. Additionally, the mean zone of inhibition for the M. bocandei honey significantly increased between the initial and final bioassays (p=0.001). These data indicate that M. bocandei honey contains antimicrobial compounds that can be used against P. aeruginosa to fight bacterial infections as a substitute to man-made antibiotics. Understanding the antimicrobial properties of M. bocandei honey may help in the fight against P. aeruginosa and other common infectious bacteria that are quickly gaining resistance to antibiotics.