Study produces sweet results

SWEET TALK: Kepnock Bush Tucker students listening to CQ University environmental science student Leslie Lowe talking about their recently received working native bee hive as a part of the Gabai Native Bee Project. Photo: Zach Hogg / NewsMail
SWEET TALK: Kepnock Bush Tucker students listening to CQ University environmental science student Leslie Lowe talking about their recently received working native bee hive as a part of the Gabai Native Bee Project. Photo: Zach Hogg / NewsMail Zach Hogg

KEPNOCK'S bush tucker students will have the opportunity to learn about the role of Australian native bees, the unique properties of the honey and how to engage with their indigenous heritage.

Second-year Environmental Science student Leslie Lowe presented the school with the specially designed working bee hive yesterday. It is part of his decade-long interest into designing sustainable hives through the Gabai Native Bee Project.

Recently awarded a CQUniversity Opal Award for his engagement with the indigenous community in Bundaberg and his work with the Woorabar elders to create a sustainable bee industry, Mr Lowe has been using the knowledge of indigenous elders to domesticate bees and to develop propagation and extraction techniques.

"Through my indigenous background, I was shown the native bee dreaming as a child and became fascinated with their lives during my walkabout years," he said.

Mr Lowe began engaging with local indigenous groups in Bundaberg earlier this year to drive a commercial native bee industry using education and his research activities and to showcase how relevant and powerful indigenous knowledge was to the Australian demographic.

"Just recently the elders had a board meeting where we took damper, sugarbag and pollen extracts for them to eat," he said.

"They enjoyed the traditional bush tucker and the flavours took many of them back to their childhoods."

Mr Lowe is now working with the Woorabar elders to promote the native bee industry to the wider community and has designed education packages, working with schools and disadvantaged youth to engage them in the program.

Ultimately, Mr Lowe said, he would like to see the project generate a revenue source so the elders could profit by marketing the bee hives and pollination services to local agriculture and extraction of native honey and other components.

Mr Lowe said Kepnock was the fist school to get involved with the project and he had plans to expand it to every school in the region.

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