This month’s #CreatureFeature has a bit of a buzz about it…
The blue-banded bee is named after its vibrant and distinct turquoise stripes that run across its abdomen, with the males having five bands and females having just four.
Adults will usually grow to between 10mm and 12mm in length and have gold and white fluff, large green eyes and their wings are tan in colour.
You can find the blue-banded bee all over Australia, excluding Tasmania and the Northern Territory, in burrows in the soil or crevices in rocks where they usually live in solitary.
Research has shown that blue-banded bees could be valuable pollinators of greenhouse tomatoes as they use a particular method called ‘buzz pollination’, which is also useful on crops such as blueberries, kiwi fruit, eggplant and chillies.
Female bees build their nests in semi compact environments like mud bricks or soft sandstone banks by digging with their jaws and while they are a solitary animal, the female bees are attracted to nesting sites where other females have previously burrowed.
Inside the burrows, the bees create oval-shaped cells that are lined with waterproof secretions in which they place an egg with a mixture of nectar and pollen.
Once the egg has been deposited, each cell is filled and the burrow is sealed with a layer of soil before the female then moves onto another nesting site.
Baby bees incubate for approximately seven weeks and only live for about 40 days after hatching.
Perhaps the most attractive quality of the blue-banded bee is their mellow nature, with this species differing from most other bees by avoiding travelling in packs and rarely using their sting.