Native Stingless Bees
We are excited to become the host of Stingless Native Bees ( Tetragonula carbonaria) which are ideal for pollination. When you come to visit us you will have the opportunity to watch this amazing little things for what they can do for the environment.
Bees are a crucial part of our ecosystem, as are all pollinators. Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce. When bees collect nectar from the flower and some of the pollen sticks to the tiny hairs on their body. This is then transferred to the next flower they visit by being rubbed off onto the stigma, the middle part of the flower, allowing the plant to produce fruit containing seeds. About 80 percent of flower plants depend on pollination.
Honeybees also pollinate about 90 per cent of our edible crops and are integral for the production of one third of the human diet. As well, many animals (including livestock) are dependent on bees for their food supply.
Believe it or not, you have a bee to thank for every one in three bites of food you eat.
"The keeping of Bees is like the direction of the Sunlight." Thoreau
Our intention is to help with the world bee shortage. Saving the Bees. Scientists know that bees are dying from a variety of factors—pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution, global warming and more.
Why are bees at risk?
Bee populations worldwide are declining due to the loss of habitat. With expanding cities and shrinking natural areas, there are fewer places for bees to thrive. An increase in the use of chemicals, such as insecticides and fertilisers, on crops, is also having an affect on bees. They are affected by these chemicals when it is absorbed by the plant and its nectar and pollen are collected by the bees. The chemicals attack the bees’ nervous system, usually resulting in death.
The native honey bee Tetragonula carbonaria previously called Trigona carbonaria is a stingless social bee endemic to Queensland and northern and eastern regions of NSW.
Its common name is sugarbag bee.
Twenty years ago, American bee expert, Professor Charles Michener, proposed a classification for the world's stingless bees that has been largely followed in Australia. In this classification, the old genus Trigona was a massive one. It included over 100 species from America (from Mexico right down to Argentina), Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, and westwards to India.
However, DNA studies in recent years showed that the Trigona bees in our region were sufficiently different from other stingless bees worldwide to deserve their own names.
Australian stingless bees are small black bees about 4 mm long which live in large colonies of hundreds or even thousands of bees. They are known for their small body size, reduced wing venation, and highly developed social structure comparable to honey bees.
They live up to a hundred days, compared to European bees which live for 50 days
Sugarbag bees forms honeycombs in their nests.
Most stingless bee species are monogynous, meaning that when the colony divides, one of the daughter colonies will be queenless. T. carbonaria colonies are frequently divided by beekeepers to increase the number of colonies. They build emergency queen cells by fusing two worker-sized cells that contain eggs or young larvae.
The queens cannot live alone and they are not transferred to a new nest until it has been fully prepared by workers. The new queen is the bee that makes the flight to the new nest, with the old queen remaining in the parent nest. When the old queen has died, mating swarms can occur at the established nest to replace the old queen with a young, unmated one.
The antioxidant activity of T. carbonaria honey has such a high value that it has potential to serve medicinal needs both nutritionally and pharmaceutically.
Sugarbag honey is a rare product to be savoured because each hive only produces about 1 kg of honey per year.
For honey production, the bees need to be kept in an especially-designed box so that the honey stores can be reached without damaging the rest of the nest structure. Box designs for honey production provide a separate compartment for the honey stores so that honey pots can be removed without spilling honey into other areas of the nest.
What are the threats to Australian native bees?
Pesticide use that contaminates bees food sources
Removal of natural habitat
Increased flowerless landscapes as a result of urbanisation
What do bees need?
A food source: Cut-leaf daisy Brachysomes, Lavender, Flowering gum, Pincushion Hakea Hakea laurina, Tea tree Leptospermum, Purple Coral Pea Hardenbergia violacea, Grevillia Pink Surprise, Sage Salvia officinalis, Native Rosemary Westringia fruticosa, Bottlebrush Callisteon Bees are drawn to flowers in clumps of one metre or more, so if possible plant your flowers in groups. Plants such as lavender and borage are generally this size anyway. Bees appear to be particularly attracted to the colour blue but enjoy a diversity of colours.
A water source - provide access to water - Some pebbles in a birdbath or some wet sand is a perfect source of water for bees. Open water can be a risk because bees often drown.
A safe nesting area
Protection from pesticides/insecticides
Protection from new pests and diseases through biosecurity measures
“Handle a book as a bee does a flower, extract its sweetness but do not damage it.”