|Stingless bee||Leafcutter bee||Teddybear bee|
So far we have been talking about apis mellifera or honeybee, which was introduced to Australia in about 1822.
There are about 1500 species of native bee which come in a range of colours and sizes, only ten of these species are stingless, and unlike apis mellifera , native bees can sting more than once.
Nearly all of the 1500 native species are solitary bees ,they do not support a hive, a female bee mates and builds a nest to lay her eggs .
The exceptions to this include ten species which are classified as social native bees (genera Trigona & Austroplebeia), They have a queen ,workers and drones in a nest found often in hollow trees. As they are stingless they are often kept as a novelty as they have a fascinating and complex social behaviour. These bees are more primitive than the honeybee and only produce a small amount of honey for their nest. Special small boxes can be made to house them if you find a nest in your garden, it is illegal to take them from National Parks etc. you may also be able to purchase a boxed nest from native beekeepers( links).
While many people say that the honeybee is destroying our native bees, they are quite often found inhabiting the same tree, log etc in the wild. They have totally different foraging habits, the honeybee flies up to 5km for nectar while most natives only fly 100-200 m. The structure of a native bees nest is also quite different as it is frequently a spiral shape.
Attracting native bees to your garden.
Land clearing and landscaping can destroy habitat, food sources and nest sites so planting nectar-rich trees and flowers is very helpful.
Good plants include: Abelia grandiflora, Angophera, Baeckea, Buddlea davidii, Callistemon, Eucalypts, Grevillea, Melaleuca, Hardenbergia, Leptospermum, Westringia, Lavandula and many others.
Some of the other common natives found in gardens are blue banded bee, leafcutter bee, teddybear bee and golden resin bees.