Steve Maginnity used to be a school teacher, and it shows as he patiently answers the raft of usual questions about Australian native bees. Don’t they sting? I thought they didn’t make honey? Is it the same as regular honey? What does it taste like?
No. Yes they do, just not as much. It has a higher water content and is more acidic, so store it in the fridge. Hints of eucalyptus and citrus. Some is even a bit like caramel.
The Australian Native Bee Company got its start after Steve went looking for a project for his students and the experimental foray into native bee keeping sparked his interest. But originally the business that he started wasn’t about the honey at all. The honey was actually the by-product of a focus on pollination. It turns out that native bees are adept at pollinating crops from macadamias to blueberries to avocados to citrus, all Northern Rivers specialities, and so a thriving business working with farmers to increase crop yields was born.
Steve’s teaching prowess found an outlet too, as he started to run education programs for schools, teachers, community organisations and more, sharing his knowledge about the stingless bees.
Luckily for us, Steve has now added honey collection to his efforts, but even with 750 hives under his management, will only be able to yield around 100kg of honey each year. Native bees do not produce at the same levels as other bees, making their honey a rare product you’re unlikely to find or taste often.