The Blue-Banded Bee ... Amegilla cingulata ... has iridescent blue on black bands all over the abdomen ... rather like a fancy waistcoat ... and it's head and thorax are covered in gold hairs. Apparently the males have five blue bands while the females have only four!!!
This bee is around 15 mm long and is a solitary bee. Actually we have many hundreds of species of native bees that live solitary lives. There are no Queens or Workers in solitary bee species ... so you will see them all out there working hard on their own to collect pollen.
These bees will nest in tiny holes in the ground or in wood. Each nest is built by one female ... although it's an interesting fact that the females have been known to build in the same location close to other nests.
|Blue-banded Bees are such important pollinators and are specialists in what is known as 'buzz pollination'. They use this special technique to get the pollen from certain flowers. Apparently the 'anther' of these particular flowers is tubular with an opening at one end. The pollen inside is very smooth-grained and attached firmly.|
These bees come along, hold the flowers and by moving their flight muscles very, very quickly, they cause both the flower and anthers to vibrate. This vibration causes the pollen to drop! That's why every time one of these bees rests on a flower, you will hear a short buzzing sound! (Sorry you won't hear the bee's buzz on my video clip because the sound of the wind blowing through the Eucalyptus trees in just too loud!)
Blue-banded bees have a very distinctive 'dart and hover' flight pattern ... which was evident in the video. Another fascinating fact about these bees ... the males apparently rest at night by clinging tightly onto plant stems.
To encourage and support native bees such as these, it's important to plant nectar-rich flowering native plants such as Eucalyptus, Callistemon, Grevillea, Melaleuca, Leptospermum, Westringia and Xanthorrhoea. We need to avoid using insecticides and if you're clearing up around your yard or property look out for possible nesting sites. These bees will build nests not only under the ground but also in:
-- burrows in soft sandstone, mortar or mud bricks
-- hollow pithy twigs (including tree fern fronds and even dead canes of lantana ... as we found out when clearing away large patches of it out in the bushland!)
-- old beetle holes in trees or logs
-- soft timbers such as dead mango branches and grass tree flower spikes
-- hollows inside large trees.