Viable fructophilic lactic acid bacteria present in honeybee-based food products

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2021 Dec 21;368(21-24):fnab150. doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnab150.


Fructophilic lactic acid bacteria (FLAB) are a group of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) with unique growth characteristics and are regarded as promising candidates for foods or food ingredients. The present study characterized levels of viable FLAB cells in honeybee-based food products, especially focusing on fresh honey. FLAB were recovered from 88% of fresh honey samples (harvested within a week) tested, and 29% of the fresh honey samples contained FLAB with levels of over 105 CFU/g. FLAB species found in the tested fresh honeys were mostly Apilactobacillus kunkeei and Fructobacillus fructosus. FLAB were not recovered from aged honey samples (aged over 2 weeks after harvest). Fresh comb honey and bee pollen samples occasionally contained low levels of FLAB. When FLAB were inoculated into honeys (linden honey and clover honey), their viability markedly reduced during a week. One of the reasons for this decrease was the presence of H2O2 in the honeys, and supplementation of catalase significantly improved their survivability in linden honey. The long history of human consumption of fresh honey suggests that viable FLAB cells do not present health concerns.

Keywords: Apilactobacillus; Fructobacillus; consumption history; fructophilic lactic acid bacteria; honey; safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / microbiology
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Honey* / microbiology
  • Lactobacillales*


  • Fructose