Bees - general








Bees belong the clade (another level of classification) Anthophila which aptly means “flower lover”. The word bee actually means “busy worker”. Bees belong to the same order as wasps and ants and they look very similar. Most bees are instantly recognised by their striped abdomen and many species have a furry thorax. We also usually see them when they are collecting pollen and this is visible on their hind legs where they have pollen baskets. The smallest bees are the dwarf stingless, and the largest is Wallace’s giant bee (Megachile pluto). The most common bee we know, especially because it produces honey on a commercial basis and it is very active in our gardens, is the European honey bee – Apis mellifera. This bee is also one which has a stinger. The stinger is actually the ovipositor that would be used to lay eggs but because it no longer serves that function it has becomes a stinger with venom glands attached. There are ground dwelling bees which are solitary as well as the more social type which live in hives. Australian native species include: Leaf cutter bee – genus: Megachile Blue banded bee - Amegilla cingulata Stingless bees – there are about 14 species Teddy bear bee - Amegilla bombiformis

Adult size: 2 - 40 mm

Out and about

They will be about when plants are flowering. There are between 20,000 and 30,000 species of bees occurring all over the world apart from Antarctica.There are around 1,600 species of Australian native bees.

Reproduction and Life cycle

The social bees build hives and have one queen that produces all the other bees in the colony. She determines which will be workers, female bees with no ability to reproduce but born from fertilized eggs, or males which are born from unfertilised eggs. These females are the worker bees and it is their job to build and maintain the hive, care for the young and collect the pollen. The males only purpose is to mate with queen bees. Fertile queens are born when there is a need for new hives to be built. Solitary bees only build individual nests for their offspring. All females are fertile and make cells within their nest for each egg. She collects pollen to provide food for the bees when they hatch. Within the nest will be eggs that hatch males as well as females. Once the female has built the nest and laid her eggs she will not have anything more to do with it. Some species will build their nests close to each as a group or communal, but each nest is completely separate.

To deter

To control

Plants to repel

Plants to attract

Plant flowering plants for their nectar and pollen Lavender / Fennel / Lemon balm / Basil / Coriander / Thyme / Borage / Ajuga / Astralagus / Calendula / Clover Dianthus / Dill / Heather / Mugwort / Parsley / Queen Anne’s lace / Red clover / Rosemary / Sage


Why they are Beneficial
Bees are important pollinators of flowers and fruits, and the word bee actually means “busy worker”. Of course we must mention the added benefit of getting wonderful honey from them.