Friday, 13 June 2008

Native "Stingless" Bees

I've been doing a little research into native bees, which you may know are actually stingless. I found heaps of good information on the Aussie Bee site. They list different types of native bees and provide contact details for obtaining hives, etc.

Unfortunately, here in the ACT it is not recommended to keep them as it is outside their natural geographical region and the cold winter can kill the little creatures (they are more tropically inclined).

Native beehives are generally kept in hollow logs and you need to protect them from predators and extremes of temperature (both heat and cold). There are quite a few varieties and the ones that looked the cutest to me were the "Teddy Bear Bees" - soft furry looking bees (pictured).

I also read the other day that apiarists sometimes wipe the inside of a new hive with lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Apparently, the bees really love this plant and wiping the hive with it will help a swarm settle into its new home. I'm not sure if this works for native bees or only for honey bees. But the principle might be the same - if you rubbed the inside of a log with a plant the native bees liked (and you are in a native bee area) would they come and live there? There are quite a few native bee plants listed on the Aussie Bee site if you are interested.

So for my own garden it looks like I'm back to honey bees. Apart from the lemon balm, so far I've found they like fruit trees, herbs, veges, tree lucerne (tagasaste), Queen Anne's lace, alyssum, phacelia, cottage salvia, white cosmos, lawn thyme, bronze fennel, daisies, roses, stocks, wallflowers, poppies, gazanias, forget-me-nots, portulacas, sunflowers and cineraria.

My main concern will be to have food for the bees over winter, as the fruit trees and veges will probably keep them going at other times. Apparently the tree lucerne, which can be hedged and is a good fodder plant, will provide some food over winter. If anyone knows of plants that bees like and that flower over winter, please let me know.

love and light


Anonymous said...

ack, I got all excited, checked out the web site and then read they wont allow them in this part of WA lol

Oh well, times will change I am sure.

For winter flowering heather, Christmas roses, primroses, snowdrops and winter aconite.

Try beans, lets some of your winter veggie crop flower and eucalypt trees. Thats about all I can think of for now :)


Cheryl said...

Hi Naturewitch.....lovely to see you going into this so deeply.
Winter flowering shrubs are Mahonia and Christmas Box. I have planted them in groups and it has worked really well.

Good luck with this project.

naturewitch said...

Hi Molly and Cheryl

Thanks for your suggestions - I will add them to the list