B-TRACE Australia

B-QUAL News Dec 2021

Honey Bee Products report from Dr Liz Barbour

Congratulations to those of you now committed to recording your B-QUAL honeybee quality control online. Now that you have all been successfully invited, to date there are 43 businesses committed to using the system with 9 merrily entering data. And we would like to thank you for your help to sort out those little glitches that occur when settling in a new system.

We have had a call from the smaller beekeepers for a system for their operations, and this we have provided and B-QUAL has called it B-Trace! Prof Sharon Purchase is working with Don Muir to finalise the manual, so expect B-QUAL Australia to launch it soon.

The change to digital is initially big for any business but, as we keep adding tools, we are aiming for the rewards to soon outweigh this initial tedium. The first add-on will be an optional honey assurance system linked to the Australian honey library and its database.

The Australian honey library has taken on a speedier pace. Thankfully this is due to a good season, so we should be able to gather a good cross-section of our honeys. Don Muir has been the key person in this drive for B-QUAL, linking with Dr Sandra Garland (University of Tasmania and Tasmanian State funding) being the centre for Tasmania, Jamie Ayton (NSW DPI and the Fire Recovery Funding) for New South Wales, and the CRC for Honey Bee Products in the West. Please keep those samples rolling in.

The importance of the Australian honey library is being demonstrated regularly. Just today I had a chat with Trevor Weatherhead who shared that Australian honeys are being rejected by the EU because of their eucalypt pollen count. It should be amusing (with our landscape of 600 species of eucalypts) but these are the issues we need to defend with this library.

As we go through the process of the testing and analysing, we realise that the important information to come with the sample is:

• Apiary site (sub-biogeographical region so we don’t have to know your exact position)
• The year and season
• Your observation of what the dominant flora is that your bees are foraging on

There are many operational things that happen with managing your bees, and will always happen, so all we are hoping is that you give us a sample that has not been heat processed (over 40’C) and with filtering not finer than 100µm.

The honey testing system presently established is to undertake the seven CODEX tests, High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography and a pollen count, and now we will be working to include a eucalypt pollen count.

You will have the choice of testing your honey within the B-QUAL system. In the new year, an additional database will be added into B-QUAL that will show you a selection of testing laboratories, generate a label for your sample
and store your test results directly from the laboratory.

Together with the B-QUAL traceability, this basic testing will be able to give you the marketing power to provide assurance on:

• Authentic honey
• Australian
• Raw honey
• Tierra (provenance)
• And over time (as the database builds), mono-floral

Only two other tests are required to include antibacterial and antioxidant bioactivity. And there is the exciting opportunity soon to come for anti-fungal and prebiotic with the work of Prof Dee Carter and Dr Nural Cokcetin. As Australia has so much bioactive flora, this will always be a focus for our honeys.

The next add-on we are currently developing is an apiary site decision support tool. The idea is to bring scattered information together into one tool together with your apiary site B-QUAL notes on site performance. A/Prof Bryan Boruff has been building the Australian melliferous floral database (within B-QUAL to help you accurately identify your flora) and this will be used as a basis. In a geographical information format, the system will let you interrogate flora flowering times, last burn scar event, rainfall and any other information we can gather that will help your decision to use the site or not.

So please hang in there. There is an amazing team working hard to deliver tools to help you in these changing times. Thanks for your support.

Dr Liz Barbour
CEO, CRC for Honey Bee Products