There has been a lot of buzz about the importance of bees! The decline in bee numbers around the world has caused a hive of activity around bee populations and their relationship to both our native vegetation and our agriculture. They pollinate plants that are important to our environment like bottle brush and silky oak and many that are essential food resources across the country and the planet.
In Australia it is estimated that there are over 1500 species of native bees.
Only about 10% of Australia’s native bees are social, forming hives and nests. These species, like the Stingless Social Bee (Trigona and Austroplebeia) make a small amount of honey which they store in tiny pots in their nests.
One of the most well-known species of native bee in Australia is the Common Blue Banded Bee (Amegilla cingulate). With a blue stripe across its back and abdomen it can often be seen darting around in flower beds across Australia. Although it is a solitary bee, the Common Blue Banded Bee often builds its nest close to other bees of the same species – like a little neighbourhood of bees!
Bees are also food for many of our native bird species. The aptly named Rainbow Bee Eater is immune to the stings from bees and wasps.
At FNPW we understand the importance of bees to our native environment & also how important learning about the relationship between different animals and plants is. In 2019 we have funded the Wagga Wagga Landcare Group to develop their Busy Bee education project. The project will educate local students about the importance of native bees and provide vital habitat for native bees, through the construction and installation of bee hotels and bee baths, and encouragement of suitable plantings and retention of nesting sites.
You can build your own bee hotel to encourage native bee neighbourhood in your garden. You can find more information about native bee species and creating a bee hotel on the Backyard Buddies website here, here and here!
There are also plenty of groups around Australia that may be able to assist you with finding out what bees are in your area. Any of the local landcare groups, museum or the Parks & Wildlife service or Department of Environment in your state will have information. They may also have education officers or volunteers who can come into your classroom or visit your group and provide you with resources.
May 20th is International Bee Day and we encourage you to learn more about bees in your area and the local environment in which you and they live.