Yesterday I noticed a HUGE bee flying around a couple of pot plants on my front window sill. I have never seen a bee so big. I kid you not, it must have been 3 – 4 cm long with a bright yellow body and big, translucent wings. So not at all like the one in this photo.
I wish I had taken a photo. Instead, I tried to head it towards the front door which I left ajar. Surprisingly, it quite happily hopped on board a yellow fly swatter for long enough so I could head it in the right direction. And out it flew.
I am on a mission now trying to find out what kind of bee it was. My best guess is that it is a native Australian leafcutter bee. Most native bees are singles – that is they do not live in hives. Neither do they sting or make lots of honey. Nectar yes, just enough to feed the growing larvae. But what they do is so much more important. Pollination.
This journey led me into all sorts of fascinating information about our native bees. Such as Buzz Pollination, aka sonication. It turns out this is the specialty of several native species. Some flowers are stubborn about letting of their pollen. Solitary bees are able to grab onto the flower and move their flight muscles rapidly, causing the flower and anthers to vibrate, dislodging the pollen. This is something honey bees can’t do. About 9% of the flowers in the world are primarily pollinated in this way.
We do have lots of cute little blue banded native bees. They just love the little red flowers that grow on our ground cover.
This has to be one of the prettiest bees in the world. Named for the beautiful turquoise bands that run across its abdomen, the blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulate) sports a lush golden and white fluff, enormous green eyes, and tan-coloured wings that look like crisp layers of cellophane.
I have not finished this investigation. I emailed the local Beekeeping Association to see what they could tell me. And, I am going to look into hosting some bee hotels in our yard! TRH (The Retired Husband) looked at me oddly when I mentioned it to him….. Why? Seems a perfectly logical thing to do.
Steps for Peace
The bees lead by example
‘The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them.’
Saint Francis de Sales