The Australian continent boasts of an ecosystem that supports a vast range of flora and fauna. In this guide, we’re going to look into one of the most crucial insects, the bee. How much do you know about Australian bees? Well, a majority of us can quickly mention a few of the introduced commercial honey bees but only a few people can name or identify the native Aussie bee species.
The Native Bees of Australia
According to entomologists, nearly 1,600 native bee species exist in Australia. But most of the commercial farmers do not rely on these bees due to their low production compared to the likes of European honey bees. Their population is small, and most of the species are solitary or exist in small colonies thus less attractive to commercial farmers. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the common Australian bees.
Australian Stingless Bees
These are tiny bees (3-5mm) and probably the most known of Australia’s native bees. They are black and stingless. Just like most bees, the colony consists of a queen, male, and numerous number (hundreds or thousands) of worker bees. These bees usually make nests inside hollow trees, but in northern areas they also nest in urban settings such as underneath concrete footpaths. Stingless bees are the only native bee species that are legally available for sale, but has been classified among the bee species under threat from human development.
These are solitary insects and popularly known for their glittering stripes of whitish and bluish colours across their black abdomens. At8-13mm long, they are slightly longer than stingless bees. You will mostly find these bees darting around abelias and lavenders flowers. Unlike most bee species, female blue banded bees are the ones that build the nests. According to recent research, it has been proven that this species can be valuable pollinators of greenhouse tomatoes.
Green Carpenter Bees
This is another species that’s popular with those keeping native bees. An adult green carpenter bee measures up to 17mm long making them larger in size compared to most native bees. They are metallic green with tints of blue and yellow making them among the most attractive bee species in Australia. Although there has been a phenomenal loss in population due to land clearing, these bees can be found on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
Yellow And Black Carpenter Bees
They are named carpenter bees because they cut nest burrows in soft timber. Yellow and black carpenter bees are 15-24mm long making them the largest bee species in Australia. Unfortunately they have seen their population dwindle due to human activities such as land clearing.
These are just a few of the native bee species in Australia. There are other species such as homalictus bees, masked bees, resin bees, leafcutter bees and teddy bear bees amongst other species. Fact is that most of these bees’ population is shrinking, concerning entomologists.