At the moment Flowering Gums are swarming with insect pollinators. The greatest in number are the Honey Bee (genus Apis) but if you look carefully there are many smaller insects also buzzing around. Many of these are Australian native bees.
There are over 1600 species of native bee. Unlike honey bees which live in large colonies, many of the native bees are solitary. The female bee constructs a burrow either in wood or the earth. A single egg is laid in a cell which is then sealed. This process is repeated until the burrow is filled.
The egg is laid on a mound of pollen and nectar which acts as the food source when the egg hatches. Different native bees collect this pollen in different ways. Some collect it on combs on their legs whilst others collect it on the hairs on their abdomens. Certain types of native bee swallow the pollen and nectar. To concentrate this food source they undertake ‘bubbling’ – regurgitating the liquid mixture into a bubble to evaporate off the water (see photo below).
It is a great opportunity to observe native bees because they remain stationary to do this, and they are usually such flighty critters.
I wonder if I could employ the bubbling technique at an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord restaurant?