Monday, August 15, 2011

Native Bees

Native bees here in Australia have a significant role in our native ecosystems and presently with the overall world decline of pollinators they have a very important place in our backyards. There are apparently over one thousand native bee species here in Australia, with the honey bees, that we typically associate as honey providers, being an introduced species. Native bees are generally solitary with only about 10 of our native species being communal or social, with these occupying a variety of habitats, but a primarily hollows in trees.

There are many reasons for the reduction in the number of native bee species and other pollinators here in Australia but some of the primary reasons are the reduction of their habitat and the widespread use of insecticides throughout the community.

Native bee hives in tree hollows are not visually prominent and as a result are often destroyed when areas of native vegetation are cleared. If these nests are identified prior to clearing activities, they can be salvaged, as has been done with this one that is now located in the Mt-Cootha Botanic Gardens in Brisbane, Queensland.

Native bees provide an important ecosystem service for humans, with these insects acting as pollinators for many of our food crops and also native vegetation. If these species are lost, overall food is likely to become more difficult to produce and in the long-run more expensive due to higher production costs and increased scarcity.

Things that you can do to encourage and maintain these species in your garden:

  • Become aware of their plight (including increased competition for food resources from the European honey bee) and their physiology (they are stingless and therefore don't pose any threat to people with allergies); 
  • maintain their habitat;
  • alternatively if clearing is necessary salvage a native bee nest; or 
  • invest in a salvaged nest to include in your garden. 
Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment