South Australian Native Bees

A glimpse into their world

Pollination

Many plants need bee pollination to produce seeds and fruit.

Are the flowers falling off your peas? Have you ever had a tomato which is hollow inside? Have you ever had a strawberry which seems puckered to one side? An apple which is lopsided? These are the result of poor fertilization/pollination.

Attracting bees and others to visit is important for pollination and helps produce healthy seeds, pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male part of a plant to the female part of the same plant, or more often to a different plant of the same species. This helps to make seeds for plant reproduction.

Animal pollination, as carried out by bees, spreads different pollen across a larger area to avoid inbreeding. This is called ‘cross pollination’ and maintains a diverse plant gene pool, helping with plant survival.

Native bees do a brilliant job pollinating native plants and are a key part of healthy ecosystems. Unlike the honey bee which spits on the pollen making it infertile before putting it into its pouches, our native bees collect the pollen dry on the hairs all over its body.

Native bees also pollinate some introduced plants, so they also improve food production.

The blue banded bee for example does a terrific job at fertilizing tomatoes.

Research has found that food properly fertilized by bees tastes better, is more nutritious, has improved quality and keeps longer.

Some of the crops bees are know to be of great help in are-

Canola, almonds, apples, beans, capsicums, lupins, mustard, nectarine,  peas, peach, pear, plum, pumpkin, water melon, strawberries, sunflowers, tomatoes. There are a lot of other crops which benefit from pollination.

Blue banded bee on a grevillia
A native bee on a mustard plant
A bee fertilising a pumpkin flower.