Screening for quality indicators and phenolic compounds of biotechnological interest in honey samples from six species of stingless bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Abstract Honey from stingless bees of the genus Melipona is a well sought product. Nevertheless lack of legal frameworks for quality assessment complicates the evaluation of food safety and marketing of these products. Seeking to assess the quality of honey from the bees of this genus, physical and chemical analyses, identification of phenolic compounds, and microbiological evaluation from six species of stingless bees was performed. The honey samples showed high reducing sugars, low protein levels and a balanced microbiota. High total phenols and flavonoids and higher antioxidant activity were also recorded. Different phenolic compounds of great biotechnological potential were identified and of these apigenin, kaempferol and luteolin were identified for the first time in honey. To the best of our knowledge, this is one of the few works describing a detail characterization of melipona honey together with identification of the phenolic compounds of significant therapeutic value.