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BANKSIA BEE (Hylaeus alcyoneus)

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The territorial behaviour of the Banksia Bee is one of the most fascinating examples of Australian native bee behaviour! The 12 mm long male Banksia Bee (Hylaeus alcyoneus) fiercely defends a miniature territory on a Banksia flower spike. He whirs his wings and fights off all other males, like a 'King of the Castle.'

Female Banksia Bees build solitary nests in widely scattered locations, so it would be hard for males to locate females for mating. However, the females flock to Banksia flowers to collect nectar and pollen. So male Banksia Bees defend little territories on these Banksia flowers, and compete for the favours of the females there.

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Above: a male Banksia Bee guards his Banksia flower territory. This excellent photograph was contributed by Dr Michael Batley.

The Banksia Bee, Hylaeus alcyoneus, is black with a dark metallic blue abdomen. It has bright yellow markings on the face and across the shoulders. This species belongs to the Masked Bee group in the family Colletidae. It is found in southern areas of Australia, including Tasmania.

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