High teas anywhere in the world are a special occasion to celebrate being with loved ones.

Within a simple, three-layered metal tray frame known as an etagere, lie sweet, savoury and more sweet tempting offerings.

Last month, to celebrate National Bee Day (20 May), a Bee High Tea was tested at Parliament House in Canberra.

We visited the Queen’s Terrace Café one Saturday afternoon after a tour of Parliament House.

The High Tea menu looked inviting and the price of $45 was also attractive. The three-course offering came with lashings of English Breakfast Tea so it was sure to please my tastebuds.

As we settled into our seats near the window of the Queen’s Terrace café, we looked out to the inner courtyard of the Parliament’s terrace. Rays of sunshine highlighted the flight of bees which were circling the Winter flower beds on the terrace.

Various-sized birds were swooping in and out of the Queen’s Terrace architecture to gather the crumbs of recently enjoyed High Teas. The only birds which I recognized though, during our visit to the Queen’s Terrace, were magpies of the black and white variety.

Bee-keeper’s tour

We’d just completed an absorbing tour of the Parliamentary Gardens, bushland and bee area with the volunteer beekeeper and his knowledgeable supervisor.

Along the way, we learnt about the Parliament’s garden walks in planted bush settings as we strolled through the outer landscape of Parliament House.

We also learned about bird life in Canberra. For example, there are many different types of birds known to nest and breed within the Parliamentary Triangle of bushland.

These include Eastern Rosellas, Crimson Rosellas, variegated wrens, Magpie larks known as Pee Wees, Australian Magpies, Currawongs and Kookaburras.

On this tour group, we met representatives from the Australian Bee industry group, as well as from the Swiss embassy and the Swedish embassy. Apparently, each of these embassies in Canberra has a resident beekeeper on site who tends to the bees and hives.


Honey from the diplomatic community and federal parliament in Canberra seems like a market-niche for any honey lover. Thankfully, the Parliamentary Gift Shop has plenty of Australian varieties of honey to try. We noticed several different types of honey from Beechworth, in Victoria, on display.

As part of the organized bee tour, each patron received a gift tote bag full of bee-products. These gifts included oats and honey handmade soap and three different types of Australian honey. We also received literature on beekeeping practices in the grounds of the Australian Parliament House.

With the one-hour tour of the Parliament Beekeeper’s paradise completed, thoughts of thirst and hunger for honey products definitely came to mind.

Bee High Teas

In the light of Winter’s sunshine, three decadent plates of nourishing food arrived. What a welcome offering! Each plate featured a different type of gourmet sample featuring bee products from the gift shop.

My pot of English Breakfast tea was replenished quickly and it was time to sample the delicious-looking High Teas (see the photo of High Teas menu above).

On the menu to tempt weary bee-keeping tourists were:

Gourmet potato, wattle seed, Stracciatella;
Lamb nigiri, Alto olive, dukkhah;
Tuna crudo, sea kelp togarashi;
Campari tomato & cream cheese, Pico de Gaye;
Chicken, avocado & bacon brioche club;
Mixed friands;
Rosella lamington;
ANZAC cheesecake;*
Citrus marshmallow tart;
Chocolate hazelnut fudge; and
Lemon myrtle crumble choux.

It was a superb High Tea and absolutely scrumptious, thank you. Bon appetite!

* See my blogs on ‘Christmas in July at the Australian Parliament House’ posted July 2021; ‘High Teas with the birds and the bees’ posted June 2021; ‘ANZAC Biscuit baking supports Commonwealth values’ posted April 2021; and ‘French Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s Day’ posted February 2021.

Queen’s Terrace Café: https://www.aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament/Shop_and_Eat/Queens_Terrace_Cafe
Or email

Text copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Photograph copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Uploaded 1 June 2021.