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April 23, 2016

DSCN2186The Wild Pollinator Count was again held around the country last week. This citizen science project involves simply watching a flower or group of flowers for 10 minutes and recording what insects land there and presumably aid pollination.

Our predominantly native ‘garden’ is lacking many flowering plants at present – a few bluebells, Austral Stork’s-bill and Rock Isotome but what was really buzzing was a Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis – a ring-in from coastal areas of Queensland and northern NSW). At first sight it seemed to be mainly attracting European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) but on closer inspection  amongst the numerous bottlebrush stamens were lots of small insects that we couldn’t identify.

But with the help of Karen and Manu from Wild Pollinator Count we were able to label them as native bees in the Subfamily Hylaeinae. These bees, which appeared to be from two related genera, Hylaeus and Amphylaeus, are among around 2,000 native bee species, all of which play an important role in pollination.
Hylaeine bees are distinguishable from other bees in having yellow markings on their face and/or body and appearing smooth and shiny since they don’t have as many hairs on their bodies as other bees. On close inspection of our bees there seemed to be several species with different markings, but as Manu pointed out, males and females of a single species usually have different face markings, so it is easy to mistake them for different species. Even so, there were perhaps two or three species. The pollinator count has shown that Hylaeus bees in particular are very keen on callistemon flowers.

DSCN2103A rosemary bush also seemed to attract a range of pollinators, including butterflies – a rather showy Meadow Argus (left) and a delicate Common Grass Blue (below).


The Wild Pollinator Count has a Flickr album with a wonderful range of photos submitted during the count. And if you want to see our bees in closer detail, click on the photos above.

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