A Guide to Native Bees of Australia

A Guide to Native Bees of Australia

by Terry Houston


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Bees are often thought of as yellow and black striped insects that live in hives and produce honey. However, Australia’s abundant native bees are incredibly diverse in their appearance and habits. Some are yellow and black but others have blue stripes, are iridescent green or wasp-like. Some are social but most are solitary. Some do build nests with wax but others use silk or plant material, burrow in soil or use holes in wood and even gumnuts!

A Guide to Native Bees of Australia provides a detailed introduction to the estimated 2000 species of Australian bees. Illustrated with stunning photographs, it describes the form and function of bees, their life-cycle stages, nest architecture, sociality and relationships with plants. It also contains systematic accounts of the five families and 58 genera of Australian bees. Photomicrographs of morphological characters and identification keys allow identification of bees to genus level. Natural history enthusiasts, professional and amateur entomologists and beekeepers will find this an essential guide.


• Discover the extraordinary diversity of Australia’s native bees, their natural history and fascinating behaviors
• Includes identification keys and diagnoses for all five families and 58 genera of Australian bees
• Extensively illustrated with photographs of live bees from expert wildlife photographers as well as photomicrographs of diagnostic features for each family and genus.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781486304066
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Publication date: 11/30/2018
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Terry Houston has studied Australian native bees for more than 50 years, both in the field and in state museum collections. He served as Curator of Insects at the Western Australian Museum in Perth for 34 years and, although retired, he continues his bee research there in an honorary capacity.

Table of Contents

Preface v

Acknowledgements vii

Part I Overview of Bees and Their Biology 1

What is a bee? 2

Form and function 3

Origin and evolution of bees 17

Australian bee fauna 19

Importance of native bees 21

Bee life-cycle 22

Sexing bees 26

About males and mating 27

Stings 35

Bees' glandular products 36

Size range 39

Colour patterns, mimicry and crypsis 40

Sociality 46

Nests and nesting behaviour 47

Cuckoo bees 57

Flower visitation and feeding 59

Seasonality and flight times 69

Associated organisms 71

Conservation of bees 76

Historical account 79

Collecting and preserving bees 81

Encouraging native bees in the garden 84

Part II Identification of Bees 87

Identifying bees 88

Is it a bee? 89

Native bee or honeybee? 91

Regarding names: scientific versus common 92

Identification of Australian bees to family 93

Family Colletidae 96

Family Stenotritidae 168

Family Halictidae 174

Family Megachilidae 197

Family Apidae 214

Bees introduced to Australia 246

Glossary 249

Further Reading 252

Bibliography 253

Index 265

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