There are more than 1500 indigenous species of bees in Australia.
Most of these have been relatively obscure and unknown to science until recent years.
One exception of course, is a tiny native stingless bee whose colonies are found in more northern parts of Australia.
The small amounts of honey stored in the hives of this species, now known as apis tetragonula, has been savoured by indigenous Australians for thousands of years.
Indeed it even has a common English name – sugar bag.
However that species is not at all a typical native bee.
Apis tetragonula is not typical both because it is stingless, and lives in large colonies.
Most native bees are, to the contrary, capable of stinging, and don’t live in large colonies.
Indeed most of them live relatively solitary lives, and their nests or hives are often well hidden, even under-ground.
Those characteristics have meant that not much has been known about them for a long time.
But in the last twenty years or so, they have became a much more popular topic for research and study.
Now there are excellent books generally available on Australian native bees such as The Australian Native Bee Book by Tim Heard, and the more recent Guide to Native Bees of Australia published by the CSIRO.
Some fantastic and inexpensive native bee posters and cards have also been produced by Newcastle based botanical artist, Gina Cranson.
The posters, and related cards, are available for sale at her Etsy store.
For more information go to www.ginacranson.com