Aussie Bee > Save Australian Native Bees > Rescue Reed Bee Nests from Lantana

In the wild, the fascinating, native Reed Bees (Exoneura) live in hollow pithy stems of native plants. However, these bees have discovered that old stands of the weed, Lantana, can make wonderful nest sites.

native Reed bee

Reed Bees are small slender native bees, about 8 mm long. They are found in all states and territories of Australia.

Reed Bees may excavate 2 mm wide nest burrows in the pithy centres of thick dead Lantana canes near bushland. Many species have a primitive social behaviour, with a number of bees living in each nest. They individually feed their developing young in the nest with nectar and pollen. One bee will guard the nest entrance by blocking it with her red or black abdomen (hind segment). This looks like a tiny red or black spot, just inside the opening of the hollow in the cane.

So if you are removing mature stands of Lantana with thick dead canes (especially canes which have been cut back in earlier pruning operations), take a close look! If you see the characteristic red or black spots of the Reed Bee abdomens, you have found some colonies of these fascinating bees!

Reed Bee nests can be saved quite easily and moved into your garden, before Lantana is removed. Simply cut out the sections of cane (about 30 to 40 cm long) that contain the nests. Do this in the evening after the bees have finished foraging for the day. Cover the entrance holes with Blu-tak or damp tissue and masking tape, then take them home to your garden.

pithy nests for native bees

A bundle of cut Lantana canes wired into a shrub.

Firmly attach the canes in groups in a suitable shrub in your garden using waterproof tape, wire or plant ties. Try to match the height and angle of the original nests if possible. Unplug the entrances and you will have saved some colonies of Australian native bees!

Note: Exoneura Reed Bees can give a small sting; so please handle them carefully.

Save Australian Native Bees
Help Stingless Bees
Help Ground-Nesting Bees
Help Carpenter Bees

Learn more...

how to make a native bee hotel

How to Make a Bee Hotel

Explore Australian native bees...

Back to top


Australian Native Bees
What are Native Bees?
Native Bee ID Guide
Bee Photo Gallery
Native Bee Videos
Bees in Your Area
Common Questions

Stingless Native Bees
What are Stingless Bees?
Buy Stingless Bees
Keep Stingless Bees
Save a Damaged Nest
Honey Production
Crop Pollination

Support Native Bees
Rescue Native Bees
Make a Bee Hotel
Bee-Friendly Gardens
Bees in Houses - Advice
Varroa Mite Crisis

Study Native Bees
Free In-depth Articles
Native Bee eBooks
Field Guide eBook
Other Good Books

About Aussie Bee
Who We Are
Free Newsletter
Site Map
Privacy Policy
Copyright Policy

Visit Aussie Bee's Facebook page for stories and photos from the world of native bees:
Aussie Bee on Facebook

Back to top