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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.
Part I: Overview of bees and their biology
- What is a bee?
- Form and function
- Origin and evolution of bees
- Australian bee fauna
- Importance of native bees
- Bee life-cycle
- Sexing bees
- About males and mating
- Bees’ glandular products
- Size range
- Colour patterns, mimicry and crypsis
- Nests and nesting behaviour
- Cuckoo bees
- Flower visitation and feeding
- Seasonality and flight times
- Associated organisms
- Conservation of bees
- Historical account
- Collecting and preserving bees
- Encouraging native bees in the garden
Part II: Identification of bees
- Identifying bees
- Is it a bee?
- Native bee or honeybee?
- Regarding names: scientific versus common
- Identification of Australian bees to family
- Family Colletidae
- Family Stenotritidae
- Family Halictidae
- Family Megachilidae
- Family Apidae
- Bees introduced to Australia
Dr 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.