There are currently 1661 described Australian Native bee species but there are hundreds of undescribed species, and so the true diversity is estimated at around 2000 or more. The largest percent of these are Solitary bee species. Unlike social bees like the introduced honeybee, solitary bees don't live in hives or colonies. Instead, each female bee builds her own individual nest, lays her own eggs, and collects food for her offspring which is usually pollen. These bees can burrow into holes found in dead wood, the ground, or in brickwork of houses. They are everywhere but most people don't know they exist.
These incredible insects play an important role in pollinating native plants and crops without them there would be no plant reproduction or a reduction in it. Native bees are crucial for maintaining healthy ecosystems and without it, we would not have some plants. And that is very important to life as we know it!!
Reclink Caboolture Construction Group acquired grant funding to make a mixture of social and solitary bee hives to assist in the conservation of native bees in the local area. A mixture of construction and conservation trainees were involved in making eusocial and solitary bee hives. A workshop funded through Moretonbay city Council which is yet to be determined will hopefully be open to the public to demonstrate the hard splitting of a eusocial bee hive as well as provide education on general native beekeeping practices. The money used from this workshop is to help perpetuate the continuation of future bee conservation efforts.
A partnership with Tafe Queensland and generously donated funds through AUSbuild has also determined the restoration of an area of Lagoon creek environmental reserve to be a scene of eusocial native bees and indigenous native pollinator plant species.
Many native species of plant help support native bee populations. Once you plant these amazing native plant species "they will come". Some species are just spectacular to look at or are perplexing in behaviour and will absolutely amaze. I love telling the story of how bees and wasps are closely related. While there are wasps that will eat nectar of flowers, there is a large amount that are not. Bees are actually more related to the wasps that predate on other insects, such as the spider-killing wasps. Bees are the vegetarian cousins that have adapted to getting nectar and collecting pollen for their larvae instead. Female bees have specialised hairs on them to collect this pollen and therefore can be distinguished as so. The females though solitary still can burrow close by to other females of the same kind and females place the females eggs right at the back of their egg burrows, males are sacrificed or matyrs at the entrance. Males of the same kind are never far from the females hanging off branches. There are all sorts of ways that different solitary bees make their nests! Some collect resin to line and seal their nest and some cut circular cutouts of leaves instead such as with the leaf cutter bees.
Native Australian Bees are very important pollinators of Edible food crops as well as Native Australian plant species. We have 11 known species of eusocial stingless bees which are said to produce medicinal honey with strong anti-microbial qualities, equivalent to or in some cases surpassing that of which is found in manuka honey. The majority of Native bee species are solitary and have a variety of different nesting habits. Some of these Bees have evolved specialised skills and some are specialist pollinators. In Australia some native species can perform a special type of pollination called buzz pollination - which European honey bees cannot. Buzz-pollinators include the blue banded bees (Amegilla species) and the carpenter bees (Xylocopa species). Biodiversity is important for ecosystems to thrive as well as being a source of wonder and amazement.