Give local native bees a nice warm welcome
NATIVE bees in Gin Gin and Childers are helping your garden grow.
Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife chief executive officer Susanna Bradshaw said when most people thought of bees, they imagined the European honey bee, with its distinctive yellow and black stripes.
“But did you know there are more than 1500 native bees across Australia? And most of these bees look nothing like their European cousins,” she said.
There are two types of bees in Bundaberg and Childers: solitary and social bees.
Social bees live in hives and work co-operatively.
Solitary bees like to keep to themselves and usually only get together to mate. It’s these solitary bees that need your help in autumn.
“Right now, solitary bees are looking for little holes to lay their eggs in before it gets cold. You can easily help these useful pollinators by providing them with their very own house or apartments to keep their babies safe over winter,” Ms Bradshaw said.
“If you keep your eyes out, you may discover some of these solitary bees in your own backyard. I was delighted to discover green carpenter bees living in my NSW central coast backyard,” she said.
“The green carpenter bee is very distinctive, which helped me identify it – it is around 2cm long and is a brilliant blue-green iridescent colour.”
Some solitary bees to look out for in Bundaberg and Childers are the large carpenter bee, blue-banded bee and reed bees.
It doesn’t take long for bees to find their new home and if you set it up in the next few weeks, you should get residents before winter.
You will know the babies have moved in when you see the ends of the holes filled in with mud or leaves.
“Native bees are very important for pollination in our natural environment and for agriculture. Without them, many plants would no longer be able to reproduce,” Ms Bradshaw said.
“The introduced European honey bee is very common in Australia but only accounts for around 5% of pollination,” she said.
“Our Aussie bees are just as important for pollination, especially in remote areas like deserts where introduced honey bees don’t venture.
“If you’re having trouble getting your tomato plant to fruit, it’s probably because you haven’t had a blue-banded bee or teddy bear bee come and ‘buzz pollinate’ it.
“Buzz pollination involves the bee vigorously shaking the pollen free from the flower. Making some clay-brick bee homes will attract these types of bees to your garden.”
Despite being so important to pollination across Australia, there has been little research on Australian solitary bees, as they can be hard to find and difficult to keep and study.
THE POLLINATORS: Make a home for native bees and enjoy the fruits of your labour.