Bees & Wasps
Blue-banded Bees are one of our most beautiful native bees as they have bands of metallic blue fur. Males have five stripes, whilst the female has four. This bee lives a solitary lifestyle with females building nests alone after mating. They perform a special type of pollination called 'buzz pollination' which involves the bee shivering its flight muscles causing pollen to shoot out of a tiny capsule hidden inside some species of flowers. The pollen is collected for the nest and whilst being carried from flower to flower, it pollinates the flowers. Quite a few of our native flowers require buzz pollination such as Hibbertia and Senna.
Chequered Cuckoo Bee
The striking Chequered Cuckoo Bee lays its eggs in the nests of other bees. Hatching first, the bee eats all or most of the food stores.
The Chequered Cuckoo Bee is similar to the Neon Cuckoo Bee but can be distinguished by its spots on its back, whereas the Neon Cuckoo Bee has stripes.
Golden Browed Resin Bee
The Golden Browed Resin Bee is one of our largest native bees and named for the golden brow on its face. Only the females have red eyes. Part of the leafcutter family, they use leaves to line their nests. Instead of cutting a leaf, it is softened into a pulp: a "resin". The female bee selects a home, stores some pollen and nectar, lays an egg, then seals the hole with a mixture of resin and chewed up green leaves. Young Golden Browed Resin Bees appear to be white and the older bees appear to be black, since the white hairs have worn off from the older bees, leaving a darker colour.
Hairy Flower Wasp
The Hairy Flower Wasp is a solitary insect without a nest and can be found around flower and shrubs feeding on nectar or hovering over wood piles and compost heaps looking for grubs and beetles. Female wasps have long, spiny legs for digging in soil. After mating, the female digs into the soil and finds a grub or beetle. She then paralyses it temporarily and lays a single egg in it. As the larva grows, it uses the host as food. Because these wasps have no nest to protect, they are not aggressive and will only sting if physically interfered with. Hairy Flower Wasps are widespread and most active during warmer months.
The Leafcutter Bee is so-called as the female of this species uses her powerful mandible for cutting out pieces of leaves in extremely neat circles. She then grasps the leaf piece with her legs to carry it back to her nest and uses it to weave tiny cradles for her eggs inside her nest burrow. She provides each egg she lays with a pollen and nectar mixture, and leaves the eggs to hatch into grubs, which will eat the provisions before pupating. It is believed that during courtship the male Leafcutter Bee passes his feet over the female's eyes in a rubbing motion. She uses the patterns to identify the male as the correct species and potential mate.
The name ‘Potter Wasp’ derives from the shape of the mud domed nests they build, sometimes seen on walls of houses. When a nest is completed, the adult wasp typically collects beetle larvae, spiders or caterpillars and, paralysing them, places them in the nest to serve as food for a single wasp larva. When the wasp larva hatches, it starts to feed upon the supplied prey for a few weeks before pupating. The complete lifecycle may last from a few weeks to more than a year from the egg until the adult emerges. Adult potter wasps feed on floral nectar.
Adult sand wasps feed on nectar but most hunt for flies to feed to the larvae in the nest. They are excellent hunters, capturing flies on the wing, paralysing them with venom in mid-air and carrying them back to the waiting larvae. Nests are dug in the ground for their eggs which are provisioned with insects, usually various types of flies. Often, many sand wasps make their nests in the same small, sandy area, but they are not social or communal. If the nest needs defending, they may attack as a swarm.
Sand wasps can deliver painful stings, only attacking humans if their nest is disturbed.