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How to identify a native honey bee?

Did you know that there are at least 1,700 species of “true blue” Australian native bees.

Commercial honey bees (Apis mellifera) are not native to Australia. They were introduced from Europe in about 1822. Australian native bees can be black, yellow, red, metallic green or even black with blue polka dots! They can be fat and furry, or sleek and shiny.

Australia’s smallest native bee is Cape York’s minute Quasihesma bee (shown in photo above, with Australia’s biggest bee). It is less than 2 mm long.

Australia’s largest native bee is the Great Carpenter Bee of the tropical north and northern NSW. It is up to 24 mm long.

Most Australian bees are solitary bees which raise their young in burrows in the ground or in tiny hollows in timber.

Australia also has 11 species of social native bees (genera Tetragonula* and Austroplebeia) which do not sting!
(*Previously called Trigona)

Stingless bee honey is a delicious bush food and stingless bees can be good crop pollinators. So stingless beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular.

Native bees are also important pollinators of Australia’s unique wildflowers and are a vital part of our Australian bushland.

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