Our native Australian bee hive was rescued from being cleared and kindly donated to the zoo by Wide Bay Stingless Bees. The hive is in a native Eucalyptus tree and takes pride of place next to our freshwater turtle exhibit.
What’s happening to the bees?
Native bees are experiencing loss of habitats, feeding and breeding sites so we want to do our bit to help conserve a local native species, especially one that plays such an important role in pollinating our natural environment.
Australia is home to over 1,700 native bee species most of which live by themselves. Eleven of these species are stingless bees who are very social and live together. Stingless bees, as their name suggests, do not have a sting like a honeybee but can bite if they feel threatened.
What species of bee is at the zoo?
The stingless bee species at Bundaberg Zoo are called Austroplebeia australis, a special group of bees endemic to Australia and New Guinea. In Australia, you can find them from the north coast of New South Wales, through Queensland and the Northern Territory, and across to the Kimberly in Western Australia. They are black with a row of four cream marks on their thorax (the area just behind their head) and they don’t like the cold that much, only appearing once the temperature reaches 20 degrees Celsius.
Will the bee's honey be harvested?
Stingless bees are collectively known as sugarbag bees due to their sweet honey. Our bees will produce around 1kg of honey each year depending on seasonal influences. As we don’t want to disturb their hive the zoo will leave the honey to the bees.
How many bees are in the hive?
There are about 5,000 individual bees living in our hive. There is one queen, some drones (male bees) and thousands of female worker bees.
How far do the bees fly, and where do they live in the wild?
At only 4mm long and weighing as much as a grain of sand, our native stingless bees might be small but they can fly up to 500 metres from their hive in search of nectar, pollen or plant resin.
In the wild, native bee hives can typically be found in tree hollows, however they are commonly found in water meters and telephone pits in urban areas.
Read more about our bees here.
When you come to visit we hope that you enjoy watching the bees as much as we do, get inspired to plant some bee friendly plants in your garden and learn more about these amazing insects.
Did you know? Native bees have a weak electrostatic charge on their bodies to attract pollen to their bodies, but don't worry it's not strong enough to hurt you.