Active Honey

Honey is generally considered to be naturally antimicrobial arising from factors such as the osmolarity, pH, hydrogen peroxide content and saturation of sugars. Active honeys commonly have a naturally thick consistency with a strong rich flavour, being relatively dark in colour when compared to regular honey. In Australia, both Manuka and Jarrah honeys may be considered ‘Active’.

All of Barnes Naturals™ Active Manuka & Jarrah honeys are independently tested and verified for activity by an independent laboratory, according to world standard testing methods.

The most popular and widely known active honey is Manuka and despite common belief, it is not unique to New Zealand. Jarrah honey is a lesser known but highly active honey that is truly unique to Australia.

Manuka Honey

Active Manuka honey is sourced from the flowering plant species of Leptospermum that are native to Australia and New Zealand. The indigenous people from both lands have been using Manuka in their traditional medicines for centuries.

Manuka honey contains a heightened stable form of natural antibacterial activity often known as Non-Peroxide Activity (NPA). Such intensified antimicrobial activity can be quantified using a range of testing methods.

Considerable research has been undertaken to determine the cause of this activity, with it recently being attributable to the naturally occurring chemical Methylglyoxal (MGO). Manuka honey can contain more than 70 times the level of MGO found in normal honeys.

Today, following extensive clinical testing in Australia, New Zealand and other countries, the unique value of Manuka has been recognised worldwide.

Activity Levels

Active Manuka Honey is sold with varying levels of antibacterial activity, which is assigned using a rating such as Active 5+, 10+ or 15+. The scale relates to the increasing antibacterial inhibition effect of the honey on cultured bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus), in comparison to what phenol achieves. Phenol is a strong organic compound that has clear antibacterial effects, providing a stable standard for comparison purposes.

Dish containing bacteria showing zones of inhibition

Reference standard is phenol.

Dish containing bacteria showing zones of inhibition
The activity rating of Manuka honey is independently tested against MRSA bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus – Golden Staph). The ‘zone of inhibition’ (honey kills bacteria) is measured.

An activity rating (NPA) is used to communicate the activity of the honey:
• Non-active: 0% activity – No zone of inhibition
Active NPA5+: 5% activity – Creating a zone of inhibition equivalent to the antibacterial activity of a 5% phenol solution
Active NPA 10+: 10% activity – Creating a zone of inhibition equivalent to the antibacterial activity of a 10% phenol solution
Active NPA 15+: 15% activity – Creating a zone of inhibition equivalent to the antibacterial activity of a 15% phenol solution


Jarrah Honey

Like Manuka, Jarrah too has heightened active properties. This quality is measured by the term of ‘Total Activity’ (TA).

Super Honey – unique to Australia
Jarrah trees (Eucalyptus marginata), unique to Western Australia, are a large forest tree predominantly found in the state’s southwest, from north of Perth to as far south as Albany.

The Jarrah tree is a slow growing Eucalyptus that can grow up to 40 metres in height and can live up to 1000 years. Jarrah trees only flower every two years, usually from December through to January in the early summer, and when in bloom are magnificently covered in beautiful creamy flowers.

Jarrah produces a deliciously dark and thick honey with an aftertaste likened to an unsweetened caramel. This honey is not as sweet as other honeys due to its low glucose and high fructose levels and for this reason pure Jarrah honey does not candy.