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What are Native Bees?x

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There are over 1,500 species of "true blue" Australian native bees (see photos of some common examples below).
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Commercial honey bees (Apis mellifera) are not native to Australia. They were introduced from Europe in about 1822.
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Australian native bees can be black, yellow, red, metallic green or even black with blue polka dots! They can be fat and furry, or sleek and shiny.
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Australia's smallest native bee is Cape York's minute Quasihesma bee. It is less than 2 mm long.
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Australia's largest native bee is the Great Carpenter Bee of the tropical north and northern NSW. It is up to 24 mm long.
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Most Australian bees are solitary bees which raise their young in burrows in the ground or in tiny hollows in timber.
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Australia also has 10 species of social native bees (genera Tetragonula* and Austroplebeia) which do not sting!
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Previously called Trigona - Why has their name been changed?)
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Stingless bee honey is a delicious bush food and stingless bees can be good crop pollinators. So stingless beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular.
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Native bees are also important pollinators of Australia's unique wildflowers and are a vital part of our Australian bushland.
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Australian Native Bees
trigona stingless bee

Stingless Social Bee (Tetragonula - previously called Trigona) - 4mm

Blue banded bee

Blue Banded Bee (Amegilla) - 11mm

Carpenter bee

Great Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa) - 24mm

Teddy bear bee

Teddy Bear Bee (Amegilla) - 12mm

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Introduced European Bees
commercial honey bee

European honeybee (Apis) -- 12mm
Photo by Simon Boyd

This bee is used for honey production and crop pollination throughout Australia. Feral nests of this bee are also found in most areas of Australia.

European bumble bee

European Bumblebee (Bombus) -- 8 - 22 mm
Photo by Brian Faulkner

A feral population of this bee has become established in Tasmania but fortunately it has not spread to the Australian mainland. More details.


Author: Anne Dollin
(See Anne Dollin's Google+ profile)

© 1997-2013 Australian Native Bee Research Centre
PO Box 74, North Richmond NSW 2754, Australia