Australia has over 1500 species of native bees and they come in a range of sizes 2mm – 24mm. Commercial (European)Honey bees, the ones most people would recognise as a bee, are introduced. Native bees are essential for pollinating many of our native species and some plants such as flax-lilies and hibbertias need buzz or vibration pollinating, which European bees don’t do but the native Blue banded bees does do. Learn more about Pollination and pollinators on our page about butterflies and other insects.
We are losing native bee habitat as areas become more urbanised and we can make a difference to their future survival by what we do in our gardens. If we are too tidy in the garden we may be removing potential nesting sites.
Many are solitary and have solitary nest and don’t live together in a colony. Dead pithy stems are used by reed bees, some bees nest in the ground and need a clear area not covered by mulch, so leave some firm bare undisturbed soil. Some live in small holes in wood or stems.
Most native bees are not aggressive so you don’t have to worry about having them in the garden but they can still sting but usually too small to cause much pain. Unlike the honey bee they don’t have a barb and may sting more than once. If you are allergic to honey bees then you may also react to native bees.