A pilot trial of ‘sugarbag’ native bee honey production on North Stradbroke Island between the local Aboriginal community and The Star Entertainment Group (TSEG) has hit the sweet spot with both partners committing to harvesting up to 140 hives on the island, and creating a future supply of authentic and exclusive Indigenous product.

Since November 2017, the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC), representing the island’s Traditional Owners, the Quandamooka People, and TSEG have been trialing an Aboriginal native bee honey production business on the island, traditionally known as ‘Minjerribah’. As part of the deal, TSEG will be the only company outside of the Quandamooka People that can use the native bee honey, securing 50 per cent of supply for VIP gifts and as a key ingredient across its restaurants and bars.

Both partners joined Australia’s leading native bee expert and former CSIRO entomologist Dr Tim Heard to extract the first honey from the trial’s original nine hives, before splitting some in half to form more hives. Further, another 12 hives have been installed to take the total number to more than 20, which will continue to double each year as hives are split to form up to 140 hives by around 2022.

QYAC CEO Cameron Costello said the move from an industry-first trial to a sustainable partnership was a result of a strong and mutual commitment to help deliver capacity-building outcomes for the Quandamooka People. “Right now, we’re enjoying the sweet taste of success with our joint trial enabling us to realise the potential of an Aboriginal native bee honey microfood business here on our beautiful and pristine island,” Costello said. “We are proud to have The Star’s support and see this trial grow into a long term partnership that will create many economic growth opportunities for our Quandamooka People – especially in jobs and training. For example, we’re proud to have our new lead bee keeper in training, Cheyenne Doyle, with us and to also see interest from the next generation of Quandamooka People like Tu Wai McDonald, one of our cultural guides and tourism trainees who is keen to explore a career as a chef.”

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