Most of us are familiar with the European honey bee. Australia also has over 2000 different types of native bees, most of which are solitary bees, as opposed to ‘social’ bees such as the honey bee which exist as a colony rather than individual insects . Some Australian native bees are stingless and all produce a type of honey. Native bees are becoming increasingly popular in backyard beekeeping, for example as an alternative for people who are allergic to bees but want to keep bees in the backyards. The honey is very different to that of European honey bees. It is more fluid and tastes quite different, not quite as sweet. It has been used by indigenous Australians for thousands of years. The wax was also used in boat building and weaponry. Native bee honey possibly has medicinal properties and uses that are yet to be discovered.
Here are some of the bees you are most likely to encounter in your garden:
European honey bee
Carpenter bee (Xylocopa) : This bee is a solitary bee that lays it’s brood in wood and branches which it cuts out with it’s mandibles.
Blue banded Bee (Amegilla) : A solitary bee
Sugarbag Bee (tetragonula carbomaria): A stingless social bee.
Teddy bear Bee (Amegilla) : A chubby solitary bee
More information is available at www.aussiebee.com.au