Today, I’m going to tell you about one of the prettiest bees in this world. Have you ever seen a blue-colored bee or have you ever heard about such a species? If it is not, this article will bring you some amazing facts and information about those beauties.
These bees are known as blue-banded bees or blue-striped bees. Their scientific name is Amegilla Cingulate. They are named for the amazing turquoise bands they have around their abdomen. When talking about their appearance, they have enormous green eyes, white and lush golden fluff, and tan-colored wings. These blue-banded bees usually grow up around 10mm- 12mm. you may wonder how to distinguish female ones from male ones. You can simply do it by counting the blue bands they have. Male bees have five blue stripes while female bees have four stripes.
This species is native to Australia and can be found everywhere except in Northern Territory and Tasmania. These blue-banded bees are one of approximately 1,700 reported native Australian bee species. There are 14 reported blue-banded bee species in Australia and they inhabit forests, woodlands as well as urban gardens. And also these blue-banded bees are also native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, East Timor, and India.
Some people say that these blue-banded bees are attracted to purple and blue flowers. Sometimes it may be true because, with their blue color, they can blend with the surroundings while collecting pollen from those flowers. These blue-striped bees are also known as lavender plant flowers. And also according to Australian Museum, these blue-banded bees are attracted to people with blue clothes. But there is nothing to be afraid of because these bees are non-abrasive and do not move around in swarms.
Blue-banded bees are known as one of the native Australian bee species that perform pollination called ‘buzz pollination’. This action is also known as sonication. When a blue-banded bee visits a flower, she starts to vibrate her thoracic muscles vigorously and it makes a loud buzzing noise. This vibration causes to release pollen from the anther and some of those pollen lands on her body. When she flies from flower to flower, she also pollinates all those flowers. This method of pollination is very useful for some crops such as blueberries, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, cranberries, chilies, and eggplants. So this blue-banded bee is very valuable to Australian farmers.
Most of the bee species in the world live in colonies. But blue-banded bees are solitary ones. There are no working bees or a queen. The female bees create nests in the ground after mating. However, sometimes individual bees nest together in one place in the ground. Even though female bees live on the ground, male blue-banded bees don’t do that and they roost in small groups on stems. They hang on to the stems with their mandibles, tucking their legs under their bodies.
When you see one or two blue-striped bees on a flower, whereas you might see hundreds of European honey bees, you may think that Blue striped bees are endangered. But actually, it is not. You see one or two of them at once because they don’t live in large colonies.
Once blue-banded bees mate, female bees build their nests on a soft sandstone bank, shallow burrow in clay soil, or in loose dirt. Their nests consist of oval-shaped cells. These female bees deposit a paste of nectar and pollen in those cells before lay eggs. Once an egg is laid, the female bee seals the cell and when all cells are filled with eggs, she covers the entire nest with a layer of soil. And also female bees make solitary nests for their own use. They like to nest near other female ones. So you can find several nests in one area like neighbors in a small village.
According to studies these blue-banded bees usually have nine foraging trips every single day to find food. They like to forage close to their nests without traveling far and wide. It is rare to see that they travel more than 300 meters from their nests to find food.
As none of the solitary bees do make honey, this Australian blue stripped bee also does not make honey. They have small nests with individual cells to house their young. In those cells, female ones paste nectar just enough to feed and develop the babies until they are mature to leave.
Blue striped bees are actually not dangerous as they are not aggressive. They have a stinger, but it is very small. So they can’t do an effective sting. Unless you are allergic, the sting of these bees produces pain as much as the sting of a bull ant and it only lasts for a few minutes.
You can attract these beautiful little creatures to your garden with a few simple steps. The first thing is to provide them with suitable flora. Flora is the main key factor that helps the development of all bee species in the world. These Australian bees usually prefer native flora. So if you have a garden full of native flora, you can easily attract these blue-stripped bees. They usually prefer native flowers like westringia and scaevola. And also they prefer non-native plants like lavender, abelia, borage, salvia, and flowers of vegetables such as pumpkins and tomatoes.
The other thing you can do is provide suitable nesting sites. As these blue-striped bees usually nest on the ground, you can create nesting blocks to attract them. You can create them by using old bricks. Fill the holes of bricks with mud and place small holes as starting points. As these bees prefer to live near others, you can place a few of these blocks near each other. You can also use other materials such as pieces of PVC pipes and milk cartons to build these nesting blocks.