When we moved into our house 8 years ago, we had no gardens only a few established trees. This was wonderful as it meant that we could have the gardens exactly how we wanted them. I also made an effort not to use any pesticides and to keep the garden and surrounds as organic as possible.
The yard evolved over the years and with more and more plants and sheltered areas, the bugs, birds and animals multiplied.
I started to notice that we had more than just your regular honeybee visiting the garden. I noticed that there was also half a dozen different species of native bees that visited. So I spent ages watching and photographing them and then surfing the internet to find out more about them. Unfortunately there is not a lot of information about them.
My favourite bee is the Blue Banded Bee (Amegilla Cingulata) They are the prettiest of the Australian native bees. They have a gold/brown furry head and thorax and they have a shiny black abdomen that has pale blue bands on it (the males have five bands the females only have four)
Because they are buzz pollinators you can always hear when they are around, they make a loud buzzing noise when they land on flower. The vibration from the buzz makes the flowers drop their pollen. They tend to favor purple and blue flowers so I have mass planted Salvia Mystic Spires, Bog Sage, some other Salvias, Native Daisies and a Duranta which are their favorites.
They are a solitary bee and do not live in hives like the honeybee. Instead they burrow into soft rock or mortar. The females make the burrows, in the end of the burrow is an egg with a pollen/nectar mixture for the emerging larva. The larva stay there during the cooler months and start to emerge when the weather warms up.
The males are not so comfortable. They are left to roost on twigs at night, hanging on with their mandibles. I first noticed them in groups of three and fours but nowdays there can be as many as eight roosting together on a twig. I have one group that roost on my Passionfruit vine each night another group roosts on some dead twigs in a tree in my backyard. See the picture below.
As they are open to the elements they only live through the warmer months. I usually notice their appearance around the end of October and then their numbers start to dwindle around the end of March. The group that slept on the Passionfruit vine have disappeared but I am still noticing one or two bees buzzing around in the garden. They will probably all be gone by the end of this month as they cannot survive the cold nights.
I have stumbled across a Native Bee website and they give instructions on how to make nest blocks for them. I plan on having them ready for October, hopefully this means that I will be able to watch them closer and have more photo opportunities. Here is the website if you are interested in learning more. Scroll down to Article 8.
Unfortunately it seems that a large amount of the Australian population are not aware of these bees. The only reason that I really noticed them is because I spend so much time hunting around in my garden to find things to take photos of. My passion is macro photography and these little bees are great subjects.
I will be blogging about other Aussie bees. Some even more amazing than the Blue banded bees.
Thanks to the following sites as they helped me with some of the information:-