Australian native bees are small and can be hard to see. They are smaller than the more familiar western or European honeybee that provides us with honey.
Native bees also tend to be solitary and are important pollinators of our native plants.
Our native bees come in a range of sizes and colours, and nest in a range of habitats. The stingless bee, for example, builds nests in hollow trees and can be kept in hives.
Some of our more recognisable native bees include the teddy bear bees, which are fluffy and orange, and the blue-banded bees. If you don’t see them, you may hear them: they emit a high-pitched buzzing sound as they collect pollen.
Other common but less seen natives include the cuckoo, leaf-cutter and resin bees.
Native bees you could see in your garden
Bees prefer yellow and blue flowers but will come in search of nectar and pollen from many of your garden’s flowers, regardless of the colour.
They will also visit native plants including daisies, coastal rosemary, tea trees and nectar-rich trees like gums, lilly pilly and bottle brush.
Some native bees are social and form nests or hives, like the honeybee, but most are solitary. These include the teddy bear and blue-banded bees, which nest in shallow burrows in the ground. Blue-banded bees also make nests in soft mortar between bricks.
Other bees use or make nests in holes in dead wood or in plant stems.
Help our native bees
Bee populations around the world, including our native bees, are in decline.
The main reasons for this are widespread pesticide use, disease and habitat loss.
You can help save our bees:
- Grow bee-friendly plants in your garden.
- Keep a native beehive in your garden. Sydney Native Bees tells you how to get started.
- Provide nest sites for native bees to lay eggs – don’t clear all the dead wood from your trees, leave old hollows and bare ground in your garden.
- Let some herbs and vegetable plants go to flower.
- Avoid using poisons or pesticides.
- Install a bee hotel.
- Join the Wild Pollinator Count to help keep track of Sydney’s bees.
- Add a drinking area for bees. Bees can drown in deep water, so fill a bowl with marbles, stones or corks to make it easy for bees to get in and out. If you have a pond they can land on a lily pad.