They may be small but native bees have a big impact on the world and now, visitors to Alexandra Park Zoo can find out more about the tiny creatures at a new exhibit.
A stingless native bee hive has been introduced to the zoo just in time for World Bee Day.
Zoo curator David Flack said the hive was donated by Wide Bay Stingless Bees, the Wide Bay Branch of the Australian Native Bee Association, and had come from a tree which was about to be chopped down.
“They call it a ‘rescue hive’,” David said.
“Wide Bay Stingless Bees often receive calls about hives when an area is being cleared.
“The team head out to save the hive so the bees can continue to live in their original home.”
David said Alexandra Park Zoo was the perfect place for the 5,000 bees to live and would provide the community with important information about why bees needed to thrive.
“We want to continue to help with the conservation of a local native species and native bees are one of those animals that experience a great deal of habitat loss and a loss of feeding and breeding sites,” he said.
“Having a bee hive at the zoo is also a great way to educate visitors about the importance of bees.
“Our native bees are important pollinators – they help to keep many species of plants healthy and also keep our agricultural industry strong.”
Council's Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor congratulated Alexandra Park Zoo staff on the new exhibit.
“This will be an exciting and very informative feature in our zoo when it reopens again after Covid-19 restrictions have eased,” he said.
“Visitors will be able to get up close to the bee species and watch the tiny creatures carry out their normal behaviours.
“We hope this new exhibit inspires the community to take action for native bee conservation.”
Bees play a big role in indigenous culture
TECKnology Indigenous Corp's Leslie Lowe said native Australian bees had played an important role in indigenous culture for thousands of years.
“For 80,000 years our first people have used this high energy food source and ecological knowledge of the species for the benefit of country and community,” he said.
“The Ancestors considered bees to be one of the most important animals.
“These small native stingless bees form one part of a family consisting of over two thousand diverse species of bees found in Australia who all play their part in maintaining a healthy and diverse ecosystem.”
Native stingless bee facts
- The bee species is Austroplebia australis, also known as sugarbag bees
- They are endemic to Australia and New Guinea meaning this species is found only in these places nowhere else in the world
- Most native bees live by themselves but the stingless bees are social and live together
- The adult worker bees can live up to 100 days
- They do not start foraging until the temperature is above 20 degrees celsius
- Each night they close the entrance to their home with a veil like gate made of propolis which is a mixture of beeswax and plant resin
- The bees are less than 4mm in size
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