Species of Australian Native Bees
Most of the 1630 species of Australian Native bees are solitary insects, building nests in the soil, or hollow sticks. Two of the more common species are the Blue-banded bee (Amegilla spp.) and the large carpenter bee (Xylocopa spp.)
There are 2 varieties of Australian native bee that are highly social. These are the small stingless bees Austroplebeia australis and Trigona carbonaria. Grey/black in colour they measure about 4mm long. With nectar available year round, a hive will rarely store more than 1kg of honey. This contrasts with the Eurpean honey bee which collects large stores in expectation of long winters with cold and snow.
Identification: When the hive is opened, Trigona will crawl over the intruder, into eyes, ears, mouth etc. Austroplebeia do not show this behavior, and is one distinguishing behavioural difference.
Trigona build a hexagonal brood cell, in a flat layer spiraling outwards (horizontally). Austroplebeia do not build in a discernable regular pattern.
The Austroplebeia queen has a light brown appearance, in contrast to the dark brown Trigona queen.
"Research is showing that the native bee might be a more efficient at pollinating a range of crops, particularly tropical fruits such as avocados and macadamias."
Senior lecturer in agriculture and horticulture, John Swift - UQ Gatton.
For more information, visit Australian native beekeepers .