Give lo­cal na­tive bees a nice warm wel­come

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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.

Photo: Con­trib­uted

THE POL­LI­NA­TORS: Make a home for na­tive bees and en­joy the fruits of your labour.

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