Sugarbag Bee

Sugarbag Bee

PDF Week 12/2016: Canon 7D, 100mm, 1/200, f25, ISO 100, external flash.

Did you know that there are more than 1500 different bee species in Australia? What an amazing diversity! I knew that were quite a few native species, was actually proud to have photographed half a dozen different species so far. But this high number really amazes me. A long way to go for my bee documentation.

Since I have some friends overseas who are interested in bees, I thought I should share. I miss the European Bumble Bees but doubt that the old world has anywhere near as many bee species as Down under. Maybe someone knows?

The Sugarbag bees not only have a cute name. It is also quite a stunning animal. It is about the size of a small lady bird beetle. They are little quirky things, more reminding of some busy bug that I associate with a nasty bloodsucking bite. However, this is one of the many stingless bees in Australia.

They do collect honey that tastes fine. From what I read, Aborigines used to do some honey harvesting from this species and you can even buy it by the hive. Certainly fun to keep some bees, certainly involved with a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork that is not quite as stingless (

The photo was taken in our garden on a flowering Calistemon tree. These bees have an interesting technique to collect the pollen. They seem to wrap themselves around one or two filaments or other parts of the plant to stabilise themselves. It looks like they are on their backs, nibbling for a few milliseconds on the anthers before they fly the the next one.

It is easy to see where they got their name from. They store the collected pollen in a bag. Unlike normal European sugar bees, they carry that bag not close to their bodies but on their lower legs. I assume that helps their collection technique. It also might help their egos and make them look more voluminous than they are.

Have a look at the other bee species on my Good Pictures Online website. This morning, I uploaded an invasive species from South Africa, the Meterbox Carder Bee. The Neon Cuckoo Bee and the Blue Banded Bees are all common visitors here, enjoying our flowering basil at the moment.

And there are lots of nervous 2mm bee-like insects hanging around. They will be almost impossible to catch on camera in full focus and decent quality. I tried but all I almost caught was a sunburn. We all need challenges, don't we!

Enjoy your weekend!

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